Three years after Aaron “Yeah, Bitch!” Paul finished his unforgettable turn as Jesse Pinkman on AMC’s Breaking Bad, he’s back as yet another tortured soul in the new Hulu series The Path.
Following up Breaking Bad must be tough. On your new show, The Path, you play a guy who joins a cult after enduring a crisis. Why this show?
The moment I read this it was impossible to ignore the material and this world of cults. The stories get more and more intense.
Your character’s cult, called the Ladder, is an amalgam of a lot of real cults. Did you do any research for the role?
These people in this cult don’t think they’re in a cult. They think the message they’re spreading is true and real. So I actually used my religious upbringing as a platform. I grew up in a very religious household, Southern Baptist minister father. I’m not saying cults and religions are the same thing. But just as human beings we’re desperately searching for our questions to be answered. That’s why it’s easy for people to “go toward the light,” per se.
The Ladder followers believe in the power of green juice. Are you a juice guy?
I’ve tried to do a cleanse only once in my life. It was a three-day juice cleanse, and right around 3 o’clock the first afternoon is when I gave up on it. Kung Pao Bistro that night. But for that half day, it really felt like I was accomplishing something.
The cult also has restrictions on booze consumption, but everyone smokes weed. Your character even does the hallucinogen ayahuasca. Have you ever tried it?
I have not tried ayahuasca, but I was strongly considering doing it before we started shooting. It’s another trend that has kind of just taken off where I’m living in Los Angeles. Some of my friends just out of nowhere started doing it. They say it’s such a cleansing and eye-opening experience.
Have you ever had to kick a bad habit?
I used to smoke, but I stopped years ago. It was hard because my character, Jesse, would smoke a lot on Breaking Bad. I asked them if they could write that out of the script, but then there was the whole ricin cigarette thing—I had to be smoking.
It’s a far cry from the clean living in Idaho. Do you get home much?
I moved away 17 years ago, but anytime I have a break, I run back there. Most people think Idaho is just open fields of potatoes, which is so funny. It’s gorgeous. Idaho is full of national parks, lakes, and beautiful rivers. Incredible outdoor activities. I just hang out with family or get on some ATVs and ride around.