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YOU Star Penn Badgley Regrets Losing Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman Role to Aaron Paul: “the best television script I’d read… That was the one that got away”

penn badgley breaking bad

Usually, if you miss out on a pot of gold, life doesn’t hand you another right away. Popular TV series You star Penn Badgley will count himself in the distinct minority cut out by this fact, however. He had screen-tested for the role of Jesse Pinkman, the crystal-meth cook and dealer in the hit TV series Breaking Bad, but ended up going for the role of Dan Humphrey in the Gossip Girl series.

Incidentally, Gossip Girl got Penn Badgley his first major breakthrough in the industry.

Read more: Breaking Bad: Snarkiest Jesse Quotes

Breaking Bad has been consistently wowing fans for over a decade
Breaking Bad has been consistently wowing fans for over a decade

Aaron Paul says Penn Badgley would have been great as Jesse

Aaron Paul, the actor who eventually ended up playing Jesse to near-perfection on Breaking Bad, said that when he first saw Badgley auditioning for the role, he thought that the latter would be a perfect fit.

“Right when he walked in, I was like, ‘Oh my God, that guy looks like a meth addict,’” Paul recalled to Entertainment Weekly. “In a good way! He was just in the role. I was like, ‘This guy is going to steal it from me.’”

Paul went on to play Jesse, however, as Badgley accepted the role of Dan Humphrey, which had been just handed over to him, without screen-testing. He had accepted it right away, choosing the role of Dan over that of Jesse.

Penn Badgley in Gossip Girl
Penn Badgley in Gossip Girl

Penn Badgley regrets that the Jesse role ‘got away’ from him

Penn does feel, however, that the role of Jesse Pinkman was ‘the one that got away’. In an interaction with Buzzfeed, he said that the role was one of the best he’d read up to that point.

“One I got so close on was ‘Breaking Bad.’ It was between me and Aaron Paul,” Badgley told Buzzfeed. “We tested. And actually that was the best television script I’d read, at that point. That was the one that got away.”

Breaking Bad had premiered in 2008, shortly after Badgley’s Gossip Girl in 2007. Badgley’s co-star  in Gossip Girl, Chace Crawford, revealed in 2019 that at one point Badgley had both the roles of Jesse and Dan to decide which to pursue. As Humphrey’s role was basically handed over to him, he opted for it.

“If you want an interesting story, Penn screen-tested for Jesse. He didn’t even test for ‘Gossip Girl’; they offered it to him — but I remember him telling me he screen-tested for Jesse,” Chace Crawford had told The Independent. “He would have been kind of a different choice, but right around the time ‘Gossip Girl’ was getting cast, he screen-tested but Aaron Paul got it instead.”

Penn Badgley in You


You brought Penn Badgley critical appraisal

Penn Badgley has had his breakthrough, however, and how. He stars as Joe Goldberg in the high-octane You series, as a stalker and serial killer. His work has been critically appraised by several, and the show now has multiple seasons, all strongly successful. In fact, Penn feels that he has kind of been breaking bad, albeit in a different way, with his acting profession taking him from the role of Dan Humphrey to Joe Goldberg.

Know more: “That’s squarely on the shoulders of Netflix”: You Star Penn Badgley Blames Netflix for Glorifying Real Life Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer After His Fictional Character Was Conflated With a Real Monster

His character on screen as Goldberg, and the way he hides his sinister motives behind a charming demeanor makes one think that things did pan out the way they should have, after all.

Source: IndieWire

Written by Arka Das

Just someone who doesn't like to sit on his laurels, Arka has been trying to do his potential justice and looking for a bit of luck to side with him. He hopes that someday he won't be needing that bit of luck, and works hard for the same.