'I did not see this coming at all,' says Paul, while Gilligan teases: 'It's surprisingly funny.'

By Dan Snierson
October 10, 2019 at 01:42 PM EDT

It’s not a Bad dream — it is coming back for real.

For one more ride.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie reunites Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul with creator Vince Gilligan for a sequel film of sorts to AMC’s legendary, Emmy-grabbing meth drama series, which saw chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) join illicit forces with burnout-not-standout student Jesse (Paul) to create a formidable and ultimately doomed meth empire. The show’s 2013 series finale ended with a double punch of satisfaction: Jesse drove Todd’s El Camino straight out of that neo-Nazi compound to freedom with a laugh/scream/cry while Walt (Cranston) succumbed to wounds suffered in his automated shootout with that white supremacist gang. Though Gilligan declared that this story had been wrapped up, six years later, the next part of Jesse’s story is about to rev up.

Written and directed by Gilligan, Netflix’s El Camino picks up right where Jesse left off, a criminal prisoner who just busted free from depraved captivity and is now a fugitive on the run, with every cop car in Albuquerque in heavy pursuit. Paul and Gilligan want to remain rather mum on the details of the stealthily filmed movie, though they will spill a few hints. “If you trust in Vince, you’re gonna really love this movie,” Paul tells EW. “What he did with Breaking Bad was pretty pitch-perfect, and you just follow him into this next chapter. It’s not trying to be anything that it’s not. It’s just a genuine, honest next chapter — and it’s a beautiful one.”

Paul describes the two-hour film — which hits theaters in 68 cities this weekend for a brief run — as “action packed, yet very slow at times.” In praising Gilligan, he adds: “He has the beautiful ability to allow certain moments to really breathe and take their time — and then some of them just blow right past. It’s great.”

Gilligan notes that some things never change for Jesse, a directionless young man who suffered catastrophic psychic wounds from his dealings with and manipulations by Walter White. “Jesse Pinkman has never had an easy road — not from day 1, when he first met Walter White,” the Bad overlord tells EW. “Folks can assume that the two-hour run of El Camino will continue that series of hardships for this poor guy. It’s like the Perils of Pauline with this kid. He has had a tough road. I don’t think it’s giving away too much to say that will likely continue for a large chunk of the movie. There’s a lot of drama in the movie. There’s a lot of big moments.”

Breaking Bad, and even more so its AMC prequel Better Call Saul, has been known to play with time. Will that disorienting and spry spirit permeate the movie, too? “If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, you do realize that we treat time with a fair degree of elasticity,” says Gilligan. “We pop back and forth from the present to the past to the present to the future. You would not be remiss as a fan to think that perhaps we might see some of that in this movie.”

While this tale of a fugitive is intense and gritty, that jet-black humor that was laced into Breaking Bad will be on display here, perhaps even more than Gilligan intended it to. “It’s surprisingly funny,” shares Gilligan. “Just like with Breaking Bad. I realized early on if Breaking Bad wasn’t leavened with a healthy dose of humor, it’d be very rough going to watch. For some of the dark stuff that happens in this movie, it’s surprisingly funny to me. I wanted it to be funny. Some of it is even funnier that I intended, and I could not be happier about that because there’s no drama without humor. It’s like yin and yang. You need the mix of it to make both really work. You need the light to make the darkness dark, you need the darkness to make the light bright.”

Don’t look to Gilligan and Paul to shine much light on which of your favorite familiar faces from the ABQ — including and especially Walt — might resurface in the movie. Trailers and teasers for El Camino confirm only that Skinny Pete (Charles), Badger (Matt Jones), and Old Joe (Larry Hankin) make appearances. Hankin was worried about slipping back into his old salvage-company-owner character after so many years, but it “was real easy,” he reports, adding: “Vince is such a great writer that you can’t make a mistake if you just say his words.” The actor is tight-lipped about how Joe factors into the plot, other than to offer this tease: “Uh-oh.”

There are many of those moments in El Camino, a movie that no one saw coming. Jones recalls being startled to get the call about continuing this Breaking Bad story. “I thought I had graduated college and they called me and they’re like, ‘Oh, by the way, there’s still one class you have to go back and take,’” he says with a laugh. “No, it was great. It was amazing. It was crazy. I had no idea. None of us did.” That includes the man of the two hours, Aaron Paul. How improbable was this movie and his return as Jesse Pinkman? “I thought a slight chance with Better Call Saul, but other than that, no chance whatsoever,” he sums up. “I did not see this coming at all. So, it was a nice surprise.”

More surprises await when El Camino starts streaming on Friday at 3 a.m. ET/midnight PT.

Breaking Bad marked the 10th anniversary of its premiere last year, with Gilligan reuniting with the cast in the pages of EW, which you can check out here. Read what Paul, Cranston, and Gilligan revealed about Breaking Bad‘s pivotal moments over here.

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