Since his breakout role in Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul has never shied away from intense roles. For the most part his characters are positioned at a critical life precipice, a stage at which every next decision could be the one that completely unravels everything. Such is the case for his latest film, Eye In The Sky, in which he portrays a drone pilot ordered to carry out a deadly strike on an area in Kenya where young children are playing. Caught in a struggle between his conscious and his commanding officer, played by Helen Mirren, he does everything in his power to spare an innocent life.
"I just love stories with conflict," Paul tells us from his suite in the Waldorf Astoria in New York. "I wasn't very familiar with drone warfare when I first started on this movie, but the more I learned, the more I was fascinated in these soldiers' ability to compartmentalize. Would I be able to pull the trigger? Absolutely not. But that's why I could never do what these guys do."
His other recent projects, Triple 9 and Hulu's new cult-based series The Path are just as affecting, leaving us to ask how Paul chooses to decompresses from these arduous shoots. His answer lies in his home state, Idaho, where he has a secluded cabin to get away from it all.
I was just in Sun Valley, and have to say Idaho's a beautiful state.
I love that Idaho is this sort of kept secret. But everyone visualizes Idaho, as this dirt field filled with potatoes. I guess that would make sense as the public perception, given what's out there, but that's not accurate at all. It's just nothing but mountains and rivers and lakes.
What was it like growing up there?
It was amazing. I think I kind of took it for granted when I was being raised there. It was just a daily occurrence to be cliff jumping and floating down rivers. The whole time I'm living this dream life in the wilderness and I'm thinking, "God, I just can't wait to get out of here." I had something I was chasing, but the more time I spend away from there, the more I miss it.
How often do you get back?
Now that we have a place there in Idaho, we spend more time in Idaho then we do in L.A., when I'm not working at least. We have a house in Boise, but we're also building a cabin by a lake just two hours out of Boise. We just had the property stakes put in a month ago.
Do you see any wildlife?
Our cabin property in McCall, another great mountain town like Sun Valley, is right next to this great gorgeous lake called Payette Lake. There is a group of deer there, and they never leave their area once they're born. They're all born on this little peninsula, and every summer you can see these beautiful baby white-tailed deer, with spots all over, learning how to walk, learning how to live.
What do you like to do in Idaho?
I love to get a boat on the river, and during the winter months I love to snowboard. My wife is an insane boarder; she's actually better than I am. I have difficulty keeping up with her.
Have a favorite slope?
I like my local spot, in my backyard, called Bogus Basin, which takes only about 40 minutes to get to from my front door. I love it.
I have to imagine you have a proper adventure vehicle at the cabin.
I got one of my dream cars. I got an old blacked out Land Rover Defender. I had them put "Highway 55" on the license plates, which is the highway that goes along the river to the mountains.
There's a great fishing culture out there. Have you gotten into it?
Yes actually. I'm getting into fly fishing. My dad loved to fly fish.
Any tips for people trying to learn?
It just takes time. It just all of a sudden clicks. At the beginning, you're not going to be great, but then, "Oh, I guess I can do this now." It's all just practice, and you have to stick with it. It's easy to give up once you are failing at it for a little while, but when you get it, totally worth it. It's gorgeous and you feel like Brad Pitt on the side of a riverbed. It's hard not to fall in love with that.
You should have Mr. Bryan Cranston over there soon.
It was just his birthday! It's great to see what he's doing now. I got to see an early cut of Trumbo with him, the first time they screened it. He was just tremendous. We still talk all the time.
Eye In The Sky, directed by Gavin Hood, is in theaters now.