Aaron Paul was hardly a household name before he began picking up Emmy after Emmy for his work in AMC's Breaking Bad, but he was in almost every household project you knew from the 1990s. There was just something about his spiky, burned-out, slacker aura that made him an instant sell during the decade where "Not!" and head goggles reigned supreme.
So it's little wonder one of Paul's first roles was on the most '90s of '90s television shows, Beverly Hills, 90210. As the Breaking Bad actor recounted on Tuesday night's Tonight Show, he must be humble about his very, very humble beginnings. Or, in his words, "That was awful. That was awful. Wow."
But the appearance kicked off an early career full of small roles in high school comedies, all which, strangely enough, play like acts in the life of Jesse Pinkman. As seen in 90210 and 3rd Rock From the Sun, things started with so much promise — just a high school kid enjoying watching Larisa Oleynik from afar, like all high school kids did. (See him at 2:46 in the clip below.)
But then, as this Corn Pops commercial proved, something changed. Something has made him start to fixate solely on his cereal, ignoring his parents hoping to have a heart-to-heart about the consequences of his actions. We hear the most disturbing inner monologue about cereal ever: "Just leave a pamphlet on the table, and I'll read it after breakfast." No wonder Pinkman has gotta have that blue meth.
Since childhood and pizza are Breaking Bad's biggest victims, there's this Tombstone ad, in which Paul throws a Jesse-esque party while his parents are away. Sadly, no Badger included.
All this behavior leads to a convoluted plot in Whatever It Takes' college to hook up his friends Shane West and James Franco with two women who West and Franco don't really want, or maybe they do, but there are other women, and everyone is just a poor man's Jennifer Love Hewitt in Can't Hardly Wait. (This plot was definitely too busy huffing a bong to make sense.) His commitment to a scheme that has nothing to do with him is disturbing, as is his character's affinity for a man who was arrested for stealing a head off of a statue. (Admittedly, unlike Jesse, who tried to save the head of one man.) But the Fastball track bopping in the background is charming.
But, without a woman of his own by his side and only crime in his future, he continues his downward spiral in Van Wilder, much like Jesse did post-Jane.
My god, even the lighting in this Juicy Fruit spot makes it look like a Breaking Bad scene. Will stealing from this man work out better than stealing from Gus?
And then there's Paul's famous Price Is Right clip, in which the actor (before he was famous) got to the showcase showdown... only to lose by going over by 132 dollars. The entire clip plays like an alternate reality for Jesse Pinkman, one in which he used his math skills to calculate prizes instead of count grams of crystal meth. But, as it turns out for poor Jesse (and, literally, Paul, in this clip), the price was simply wrong. Bitch.