There’s no shortage of great performances on Breaking Bad. From Bryan Cranston’s unexpectedly masterful turn as Walter White to Jonathan Banks’ laconic performance as Mike to Giancarlo Esposito’s nuanced portrayal of Gus Fring, it’s easy to understand why the show has wracked up five Emmy nominations in the acting categories this season (and another eight in the non-acting categories). But perhaps the standout in the cast is Aaron Paul, whose performance as Walt’s psychologically tormented partner Jesse Pinkman becomes more and more heart-wrenching with each passing season. Even if he never acts in anything ever again, Paul will be remembered as one of the best actors of his generation on the basis of Breaking Bad alone.
Luckily, Paul will act in things other than Breaking Bad. First among them will be Smashed, another drug-themed drama which was greeted with acclaim when in premiered at Sundance and again when it played the other day at TIFF. So far, most of the acclaim has centered on Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Thing remake), who is said to be an early front-runner for the best actress Oscar (along with Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha, Jennifer Lawrence for The Silver Linings Playbook, and Olga Kurylenko for To the Wonder). But Paul has also been singled out for praise. “Paul may be best known as Breaking Bad co-star Jesse Pinkman,” writes Edward Davis of IndieWire. “But while Charlie also likes his vices a bit too much, his performance—loving, gentle, lightly hammered—is in a very different key than his work there.”
Smashed hits theatres Oct. 12.