Simon Bland had a quick chinwag with Aaron Paul AKA Jesse from Breaking Bad, to talk about his new film, creating an Aaron Paul cocktail and being drunk.
Sup Aaron? So tell us about Smashed. How did you get involved?
It was sent over to me and I was a little nervous about reading a project that was tackling substance abuse but I started flipping through it and I was instantly drawn into it and I fell in love with just how honest the story was and I really thought I could relate to a lot of these characters in this film. The first person I met was James Ponsoldt, our wonderful director/co-writer of the film and we sat down and talked for a few hours and just really hit it off and then I sat down and talked to our producer Jonathan Schwartz and then the next and final person I met before I was cast was Mary Elizabeth Winstead. We met up in a little restaurant for a light meal and a couple of drinks and I think they really wanted to make sure that she felt comfortable around me and wanted her to give the A-Okay thumbs up and once we sat down everyone kind of agreed that they wanted me to be this character so that’s how it all happened.
Did you have instant chemistry?
Yeah, from day one it was a very special experience. First off she’s brilliant and I’ve been a fan of hers for some time and when I heard that she was involved, just envisioning her being able to sink her teeth into such a meaty role was very exciting for me so it was great from moment one.
You two play a boozy couple. How much research did you do?
The only research I did was I drank a lot, heavily and I filmed myself doing so. It’s amazing how after three drinks you might be okay and you’re convincing yourself that you’re fine but at the fourth drink you’re such a different person and even by the fifth drink you just become so unbelievably sloppy. I found out that I was a very happy, loud drunk. A very loud drunk but very happy and just wild and rambunctious. And I watched a lot of stuff online, people that were just hammered, that was fascinating. Do yourself a favour and just type in ‘Drunk people’ on YouTube and you can find some pretty spectacular videos.
Booze often leads to embarrassing moments. Had any moments you’d rather forget?
Yeah, I’m sure we all have but it’s definitely been a while. I haven’t really drank like that for a long time. So it was fun to get to put on those shoes again but I’m happy that those days are way in my past.
If there was an Aaron Paul cocktail what would be in it?
You know, I use to just strictly drink Jack Daniel’s, that’s it, Jack and Coke. Then I went through a phase of just drinking whiskey or just drinking scotch neat with no ice, just straight up. Now I’ve found out that vodka, if you drink a few of them, you don’t feel as bad in the morning compared to drinking the darker liquors.
So is Vodka your new favourite tipple?
The cast in this movie is well good…
Oh it was amazing, the thing is really the majority of the cast I got to work with was just Mary. I got to work with Kyle (Gallner) a little bit, but really all of my scenes were with Mary and we shot all of the house stuff all on a row. We shot the entire film in 19 days, I think I worked maybe a total of ten of those days so it was a very intense ten days but super fun and moving. I met a lot of the cast at Sundance when we took our film there, and I’m such a huge fan of everybody. I had worked with Mary Kay Place before on a series I did a few years ago and obviously I’m such a huge fan of hers, but then it was too bad that I didn’t have any scenes with Octavia [Spencer], Megan Mullally or Nick Offerman because I mean, come on, those guys are just epic! But yeah I’m so proud of this film.
Everybody likes a bit of a drink. Do you think this’ll help people relate to it?
Yeah I think it’s great. This film is not necessarily a scared straight story, really it focuses on a young woman dealing with her addictions and it dives into this young marriage and then they’re just struggling with their own set of issues and trying to overcome their problems and you feel like you’re just a fly on the wall watching these circumstances happen. That’s what I just love so much and so many people that are recovering or dealing with alcoholism, they obviously relate to it and I think it’s a film that people that are dealing with those struggles should absolutely watch, it’s a scary lesson to learn. Alcohol for some people is just an evil, evil thing.
You’ve played high on screen loads in Breaking Bad. Is it harder to play drunk?
No, they’re both hard, they have their own set of struggles but they’re both completely different animals. Playing drunk, that was really, really terrifying for me because if you do it wrong then it’s really, really, really wrong and it just looks super fake and so that’s what the challenge was, to just try and keep it as honest as possible. There were some little techniques that I picked up along the way and definitely some techniques that I leaned from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, really just watching her it was incredible and all the stuff I saw online was very helpful. But there are some techniques before you roll, when you’re playing drunk it helps if you kind of spin around in circles as much as you can before you start rolling because then you get the spin and you can really play with that and play with those emotions and the things you’re going through.
You didn’t throw up on set with all the spinning, did you?
Naa, not at all!
Smashed is in cinemas today.