AMC’s Breaking Bad was a landmark television drama… and not just because it was so brilliantly written, expertly plotted, and beautifully photographed.
From its charismatic leads to its supporting cast, the show’s talented ensemble turned in some of the finest performances ever committed to the small screen. And Aaron Paul was quite possibly the show’s Most Valuable Player. As you probably know, he portrayed Jesse Pinkman, the hapless accomplice to Bryan Cranston’s high school chemistry teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White.
Paul created a character that was incredibly easy to root for, despite having more than his fair share of faults. He was self-centered, endlessly self-pitying, and always looking to make a quick buck.
By the end of the series, he’d progressed from a small-time drug dealer to a reluctant murderer. Of course, Jesse also had a remarkable capacity for caring, loyalty, and trust qualities which unfortunately made him way too easy to manipulate and exploit.
Paul’s portrayal of Pinkman was so remarkable that it’s virtually impossible to imagine anyone else stepping into the role. His nuanced, soulful performance is ultimately what won fans over and what made Jesse a sympathetic character.
Interestingly, Paul almost didn’t get a chance to turn Jesse Pinkman into the character we all know and love today. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan originally intended for Jesse to die at the end of the first season. In fact, that death was supposed to raise the stakes for Walter… and hasten his transformation into the ruthless, deadly drug lord known as Heisenberg.
Even before production on Breaking Bad began, Gilligan reportedly pitched an idea to studio executives and they really didn’t like it: Long story short, Jesse would be killed in a drug deal gone bad. Blinded by rage, Walter would subsequently kidnap the person responsible and hold him captive in his basement, torturing him in unspeakable ways.
According to IndieWire, studio brass managed to talk Gilligan off that particular ledge, but he evidently still intended to kill off Jesse down the line. As it turns out, Jesse was originally supposed to meet his maker in the ninth episode of Breaking Bad’s first season… but perhaps you’ve noticed that Season One only has seven episodes. That’s because the 2007 Writers’ Guild of America strike got underway in the middle of production, reportedly forcing the powers-that-be to shorten the first season. And that was ultimately very good news for Jesse Pinkman and Aaron Paul . Keep watching the video to see the reason Jesse Pinkman wasn’t killed off during Breaking Bad season 1!
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