At 5 p.m. on Monday, police sirens blasted throughout the surrounding streets of Westwood in front of the Fox Village Theater. Helicopters flew overhead and heads turned every which way.
A black 1978 Chevrolet El Camino with red stripes came racing in front of the famed movie theater, known for hosting premieres of tent pole films going back as far as the 1930s.
Following close behind the vintage car were three law enforcement vehicles labeled “DEA” and cheers from dozens of fans that rivaled the volume of the sirens.
Stepping out of the vehicle and onto the red carpet, was the star of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Aaron Paul.
Paul plays Jesse Bruce Pinkman, a co-founder of the biggest methamphetamine empire in the nation, as he tries to escape from the police, who are offering a 5 million dollar reward for any information leading to his capture.
As one of the most anticipated releases of the year, Paul was joined by co-stars, Charles Baker, Matt L. Jones, and Jonathan Banks.
Breaking Bad alumni, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, Giancarlo Esposito, Jesse Plemons, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, and more also strutted the carpet, in support of their former colleagues.
Hailed as one of the greatest television series of all time, Breaking Bad went off the air just over 6 years ago. Even then, the show continues to be watched daily by loyal fans, whether it be through rebroadcasts on its home channel, AMC, or through the streaming site, Netflix.
The film is the second spin-off in the Breaking Bad universe, after 2015s Better Call Saul starring Bob Odenkirk. While the dramedy should be enough to whet one’s appetite, a true fan will be the first to tell you that one can never get enough of the immersive world created by Vince Gilligan.
The red carpet, which was actually a sort of beige carpet dressed up with shrubbery and rocks meant to mimic the look of the desert landscape showcased prominently in the show, was walked by more than just the stars of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and El Camino.
From Bobby Burke of Queer Eye, to Derek Hough of Dancing With the Stars, to Kirsten Dunst of the Spider-Man trilogy, to even Mark Hamill of Star Wars, Hollywood stars came out of the woodworks to see the biggest movie in Hollywood.
While most celebrities abruptly attended to the roaring fans at the carpet, Paul brazenly signed almost every poster, shook almost every hand offered and took almost every photo with almost every fan. Because of Paul’s devotion to his fans, the film started over half an hour late.
With almost a thousand in attendance, the film’s director, Gilligan, and Paul introduced the film. Paul thanked the fans and told the story of Gilligan’s “itch” to write a new chapter in the Breaking Bad story.
“It was a kind of rash,” Gilligan said.
Gilligan went on to point out how the balcony level was noticeably closed off for the screening. Noting that Netflix commissioned Dolby Laboratories to come in and install the world-famous Dolby Vision projection system specifically for the premiere.
“This is the best the film will ever be seen,” Gilligan said.
The projector, commonly considered one of the best in the world, is a custom design of two 4K laser projectors that allow for one of the clearest images ever put to the silver screen.
The duo left the audience with a request to not spoil the contents of the plot or to “synopsize” the film, as to allow the rest of the world to experience it when it premieres on Netflix this coming Friday.
The theatre gave out complimentary popcorn and drinks to the audience, who cheered and hollered at many points during the duration of the film.
Derek Reyes, a 22-year old who had driven from Calabasas, was not thrilled with the ending to one of his favorite characters.
“That’s it?” Reyes said as the credits rolled, then letting out a laugh.
While Reyes did not think the film lived up to the hype, others stood in ovation.
The film, which is very similar to an elongated episode of the original series, may not be as action-packed as one might hope for after 6 years. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be. It is a plot-driven story with a definitive ending for the Jesse Pinkman character.
Despite what one might think of the film’s quality, Paul’s performance in the film is undeniable.
Paul is shown at the peak of his acting career in El Camino. From channeling Pinkman’s post-traumatic stress from being locked in a cage, tortured, and forced to cook meth, to playing off of Skinny Pete and Badger’s humor, Paul’s performance is downright compelling.
Once the film began, one forgets Aaron Paul is merely walking distance from every fan in the auditorium.
Simply put, for those 2 hours and 2 minutes, Aaron Paul is Jesse Pinkman.
Although Paul is set to star in the HBO powerhouse, Westworld, next year, he let on about his hardships securing worthwhile roles after Breaking Bad in a recent interview. He is fully aware that Jesse Pinkman is the one role people will remember him by.
What sets Paul apart from other beloved character actors is that, while one might call out “Skinny Pete!” or “Badger!” when Charles Baker or Matt L. Jones walk by, when Aaron Paul walks by, they call out “Aaron!”
Aaron Paul may define the character, but he does not let the character define him.
And as the final image cuts to black, the fans feel compelled to thank him as they crowd him in the lobby. However, it is Paul who is the first to say thank you.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad movie is set to premiere October 11 on Netflix and in select theaters from October 11-13.