There are four kinds of people who are going to see "Smashed" this weekend, when it opens in limited release: 12-steppers intrigued by the film's focus on alcoholism and recovery; film buffs who want to see for themselves if lead actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead really has a shot at an Oscar nomination (she does); people who have been crushing on Winstead since she starred in "Scott Pilgrim"; and "Breaking Bad" fans who adore Emmy-winning actor Aaron Paul and can't wait to see him do his thing on a 22-foot-tall screen.
Expressing love for Paul's "Breaking Bad" character, Jesse Pinkman, has long been something of a calling card for in-the-know fans of the award-winning AMC drama. You have to spend some time with the show to truly understand his appeal -- dipping in for an episode or two, or watching this amazing mashup of him saying "yo" -- isn't going to do it. Because the appeal of Jesse is that he's completely awesome -- despite being one of the most annoying people on Earth. You can't truly appreciate him until you've felt the impulse to fling something heavy at his face.
Paul's character in "Smashed" is pretty annoying too, as Paul himself admits. He's happy as long as he and his wife, Kate (Winstead), are careening through life trailed by an endless array of empties. But when she hits bottom and decides to get her act together, he can't muster the maturity to join her. HuffPost Entertainment had a brief phone chat with Paul, who's in London shooting "A Long Way Down" with former 007 (and apparent Radiohead fan) Pierce Brosnan.
Michael Hogan: You told GQ you didn't want to accept any more roles as "the drug addict with a heart of gold" -- so what was it about this role that made you say yes?
Aaron Paul: This one was is just so honest. And I could relate to these characters in a a very personal way. I was in a relationship years ago that -- when we first started seeing each other I was super young, early 20s, and her and I just we were drinking a lot and running around, not a care in the world. But then I kind of realized, "Oh, wow, I can't go out again. No, I don't want to drink anymore. No, I don't want to open that bottle of wine." I noticed that she would and always did. And when I wasn't drinking, I noticed how hammered she would always get. If she opened a bottle of wine, she would finish it. And I brought it up: "Hey, do you think you might have a problem?" And she said, "Absolutely not." And she said she would kinda slow down, but she would start putting Jack & Coke in a Snapple bottle and she was hiding that. It was like, "Wow." And then some serious things started happening -- apartment catching on fire, her causing a serious car accident, and me trying to get her to go sober, desperately telling her, "I will stop drinking along with you, I will help you to stop."
You offered to quit drinking to help your girlfriend, which is something your character in "Smashed" never does for his wife. Were you annoyed by him?
Yes, I was very annoyed with Charlie. He just wasn't willing to grow up yet. He didn't really feel that he had a problem. You know, was his problem as intense as Kate's? No, it wasn't. Could it turn into that? Absolutely. He's not the one waking up in an alley in Downtown L.A. after smoking crack with a stranger. He's not down that path just yet. But I was annoyed that he didn't stand by his wife's side in it. If she wanted to go sober, and she asked him, "Hey, would you do this with me?" then he should, absolutely. I was annoyed with him, but he's not me. [Laughs.]
Do you know guys like him in L.A.?
Absolutely. Especially after doing this film, it really did open my eyes. You know, you go to the same bar, you see a couple friends of yours there. You go a month later and, "Oh, wow, those same friends, they're here as well." But the sad fact of the matter is, they're there all the time. So in your head, you just ran into the same people. Alcohol is a serious thing, and it can do damage. And it's incredible to me that pot is illegal and alcohol is not. Because alcohol is so much more dangerous than marijuana. What is someone going to do if they smoke too much weed? They're going to go to sleep after eating a box of Twinkies. What is someone going to do if they drank too much? They're going to get in their car and possibly kill themselves after killing someone else. Alcohol is a very vicious thing. And it's not like I'm sober. I drink, but I know my limits.
Did you do any other research for this role?
No, I didn't. I lived it. I didn't talk to anyone else. I did film myself drinking quite a bit. And I watched people online who were drunk. On YouTube, I'd just type in, "people drunk" or "people acting drunk." And I found everything I was looking for.
You make yourself very available to your fans on Twitter, going so far as to take calls from them on pay phones. Have you ever had any scary run-ins?
Honestly, never. That's why I think I'm so open with people on Twitter. Without fans, this business wouldn't exist. And obviously our show wouldn't be here. I look at them as my friends. I'm so happy that they're there. And so thankful. When I started doing the phone thing, it was because I couldn't respond to everybody, so I figured if I just did the phone thing it would be quicker and easier than typing back. I could just answer the phone and answer quickly. "Do you have questions? Want to tell me something about yourself? Want to yell at me?" I'll just Tweet out random phone numbers and have them call me -- it's great, and I definitely plan to do it again once I'm back in the States. I tried to find pay phones in London, but honestly, all the big red boxes, they don't take incoming calls. I want to do a Web series with different celebs doing phone calls on different pay phones around the world.
'Bachelorette' (Sept. 7)
Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher star as the three worst bridesmaids this side of Kristen Wiig in "Bachelorette." Based on the stage play by director and writer Leslye Headland, the hilarious film debuted on video on demand and iTunes in early August and earned nearly $500,000 during its first weekend.
'The Words' (Sept. 7)
The Fareed Zakaria story? "The Words" stars Bradley Cooper as an author who stole the work of another man (Jeremy Irons). Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid and Ben Barnes co-star in the CBS Films release.
'Finding Nemo 3D' (Sept. 14)
Find Nemo again, this time in three dimensions.
'Resident Evil: Retribution' (Sept. 14)
The fifth (!) "Resident Evil" film has the tagline "Evil Goes Global." OK, then. Milla Jovovich once again stars, while Michelle Rodriguez returns to the franchise for the first time since the original "Resident Evil" in 2002.
'Liberal Arts' (Sept. 14)
If you believe the strong reviews "Liberal Arts" received after it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, Josh Radnor's second film is a major leap from the "How I Met Your Mother" star's directorial debut, "happythankyoumoreplease." In "Liberal Arts," Radnor stars as a college admissions officer who falls for a student named Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen).
'The Master' (Sept. 14)
"The Master," Paul Thomas Anderson's first feature since "There Will Be Blood" in 2007, is already one of the most discussed films of the year. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix star as a religious zealot and his protege, respectively, in a story that reportedly mirrors L. Ron Hubbard's formation of Scientology in the 1950s. Oscar buzz is already humming around "The Master," which should also become one of the most discussed films of 2013 by the time awards season comes to a close next year.
'Dredd' (Sept. 21)
Karl Urban is the law in this gritty reboot of the popular comic "Judge Dredd." Expect fanboys to be out in force for this one: The hyper-violent "Dredd" debuted at Comic-Con in July to mostly high praise.
'End of Watch' (Sept. 21)
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star as L.A.P.D officers who stumble onto a drug ring in "End of Watch," the latest cops-and-robbers thriller from David Ayer ("Training Day"). Go ahead and google what the term "end of watch" means if you want some insight on where this film might end up.
'Perks of Being a Wallflower' (Sept. 21)
Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson star as three Pittsburgh teens coming of age with the help of David Bowie and The Smiths in Stephen Chbosky's adaptation of his own seminal novel.
'House At the End Of the Street' (Sept. 21)
A rising superstar isn't a rising superstar unless they've got an oft-delayed horror film coming out <em>after</em> they hit the big time. Enter "House At the End Of the Street" with "Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence.
'Trouble With the Curve' (Sept. 21)
Clint Eastwood returns to the screen for the first time since "Gran Torino" in 2008 for "Trouble With the Curve." The film -- directed by Eastwood protege Robert Lorenz and not the acclaimed actor/director himself -- focuses on the relationship an aging baseball scout (Eastwood) has with his daughter (Amy Adams). Justin Timberlake co-stars and takes off his shirt. Just FYI.
'Hotel Transylvania' (Sept. 28)
Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Cee-Lo Green, Steve Buscemi and many more provide voices in "Hotel Transylvania," an animated comedy about what happens when Dracula's daughter (Gomez) falls for a mere mortal (Samberg). Sandler voices Dracula.
'Looper' (Sept. 28)
Rian Johnson's twisty sci-fi action thriller stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mob hitman tasked with killing his future self (Bruce Willis). Gordon-Levitt -- who also starred in 2012 films "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Premium Rush" -- spent hours in make-up each day to look like a younger version of Willis. Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels and Emily Blunt co-star.
'Won't Back Down' (Sept. 28)
"Inspired by actual events," "Won't Back Down" tells the story of two mothers (Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal) who attempt save the the school that their children attend. This marks Davis' first major role since losing Best Actress to Meryl Streep at the 84th annual Academy Awards.
'Frankenweenie' (Oct. 5)
Tim Burton's second feature of 2012 (the first was the derisible bore "Dark Shadows") is based on his own 1984 short film of the same name. "Frankenweenie" tells the story of a young boy named Victor Frankenstein, who brings his recently deceased dog back from the dead. Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Christopher Lee and Martin Short provide the vocal talent while Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O performs one of the songs on the film's soundtrack. This one will be huge with the Hot Topic crowd.
'Pitch Perfect' (Oct. 5)
Elizabeth Banks produced this a capella comedy, which stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and Anna Camp as an all-female singing group trying to defeat their male counterparts at a college choir competition. Judging from the trailer, "Pitch Perfect" looks like "Bring It On" with songs, so it should be awesome.
'Taken 2' (Oct. 5)
Liam Neeson still has a very particular set of skills in "Taken 2."
'The Paperboy' (Oct. 5)
Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy" stars Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, John Cusack and 2012 It-Boy Matthew McConaughey, but you'll probably want to see this fever dream because Kidman's character pees on Efron's character. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/30/nicole-kidman-paperboy-urination-efron-lee-daniels_n_1555386.html" target="_hplink">Yep</a>.
'Sinister' (Oct. 5)
Because "Paranormal Activity 4" doesn't come out until the middle of October, "Sinister" is here for all your haunted house needs. Ethan Hawke stars in the low-budget horror film, which debuted to strong reviews at SXSW back in March.
'Argo' (Oct. 12)
Ben Affleck directs and stars in "Argo," a drama about how the CIA used the guise of a fake film to extract six Americans from Iran during the hostage crisis. (The story is so unbelievable, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Caper" target="_hplink">it could only be true</a>.) Warner Bros. is so high on "Argo," they moved the film from its original September release date to October to take advantage of growing Oscar buzz. Affleck's latest will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.
'Here Comes the Boom' (Oct. 12)
Paul Blart: Ultimate fighter? Kevin James goes boom in "Here Comes the Boom," which looks like "Warrior" mixed with a Happy Madison comedy.
'Seven Psychopaths' (Oct. 12)
A rogues' gallery of character actors (Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson) star in Martin McDonagh's follow-up to the critically acclaimed "In Bruges."
'Nobody Walks' (Oct. 12)
Co-written by Lena Dunham, "Nobody Walks" tells the story of an impetuous young girl (Olivia Thirlby) who moves to Los Angeles to finish her student film, but gets caught between a suburban married couple (John Krasinski and Rosemarie DeWitt).
'Alex Cross' (Oct. 19)
It's Tyler Perry like you've never seen him before! The cottage industry drops his Madea drag for the time being to play the title character in "Alex Cross." A grotesquely jacked Matthew Fox co-stars as the film's antagonist, while Edward Burns provides support as Cross' possibly doomed partner. The film is based on the James Patterson novel "Cross." Morgan Freeman previously played Cross onscreen in "Kiss the Girls" and "Along Came A Spider."
'Killing Them Softly' (Oct. 19)
Brad Pitt reunites with his "Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" director Andrew Dominik for the more succinctly titled "Killing Them Softly," a crime drama based on the 1974 George V. Higgins novel "Cogan's Trade."
'Paranormal Activity 4' (Oct. 19)
Fourth verse, same as the first, second and third. At this rate, count on "Paranormal Activity 5" to hit theaters in October of 2013.
'Chasing Mavericks' (Oct. 26)
Based on a true story, "Chasing Mavericks" follows Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston), a California high school student in search of the massive waves known as mavericks. Gerard Butler is Jay's onscreen spirit guide, while one-time "O.C." nemesis Taylor Handley plays one of the film's bad guys. The trailer for "Chasing Mavericks" is aces, though that might have something to do with the outstanding use of Gym Class Heroes' hit single "Fighter."
'The Big Wedding' (Oct. 26)
<strong>UPDATE</strong>: "Big Wedding" has moved to April of 2013. A night of too many stars? Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried and Topher Grace star in "The Big Wedding," which surprisingly isn't a sequel to "New Year's Eve."
'Cloud Atlas' (Oct. 26)
"Cloud Atlas" has one of the year's best trailers and casts (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent). However, can Andy and Lana Wachowski (back behind the camera for the first time since "Speed Racer") and Tom Tykwer bring David Mitchell's sprawling 2004 novel to life on the big screen? That question is one of the biggest of 2012, and its answer will go a long way to deciding whether or not "Cloud Atlas" becomes a major Oscar player next year.
'Fun Size' (Oct. 26)
Director Josh Schwartz ("The O.C." and "Gossip Girl") makes the leap to the big screen with "Fun Size," a Halloween-set one-crazy-night movie that could recall the shaggy charm of "Adventures In Babysitting."
'The Sessions' (Oct. 26)
Formerly titled "The Surrogate" (as well as "Six Sessions"), "The Sessions" is an Oscar contender under any name. The film is a true-story account of a man (John Hawkes) stricken with polio who hires a sexual surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his virginity. Both Hawkes and Hunt are already among the favorites for Best Actor and Actress, respectively, and supporting star William H. Macy could have a shot at a nomination as well.
'Flight' (Nov. 2)
Robert Zemeckis' first live-action film since "Cast Away" in 2000 casts Denzel Washington as a hero pilot who may have been drunk when he safely crash-landed a tumbling airliner. "Flight" is set to close the New York Film Festival in October, and could be on the short list for Oscar. Regardless of awards bona fides, it's good to have Zemeckis back with the living after his sojourn to the uncanny valley for films like "Polar Express" and "A Christmas Carol."
'The Man With The Iron Fists' (Nov. 2)
RZA. Russell Crowe. Kung-fu. Be there.
'Wreck-It Ralph' (Nov. 2)
It's "Toy Story" for video games! "Wreck-It Ralph" tells the story of a video game villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) who wants to become a hero. The charming trailer -- which features real video game characters from the past -- sets "Wreck-It Ralph" up as the type of kids' movie that adults will love too.
'This Must Be The Place' (Nov. 2)
The long-delayed "This Must Be the Place" stars Sean Penn as a rock star-cum-Nazi hunter looking for the man who killed his father. But it's funny?
'Skyfall' (Nov. 9)
Or: "James Bond Rises"? Sam Mendes directs the latest Bond, which sort of looks like "The Dark Knight Rises" in all the best ways. Fingers crossed, however, that villain Javier Bardem doesn't ever speak through a ridiculous mask.
'Lincoln' (Nov. 9)
Steven Spielberg's epic historical drama "Lincoln" casts Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president. Translation: Here's your Best Actor frontrunner.
'Breaking Dawn Part 2' (Nov. 16)
The final installment in the "Twilight" franchise will also provide fans with the chance to remember stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in better times. Ah, memories.
'Anna Karenina' (Nov. 16)
Following "Pride and Prejudice" and "Atonement," director Joe Wright teams with Keira Knightley for a third novel adaptation with "Anna Karenina." The melodrama should be an Oscar player in all categories, and might provide Knightley with her first Academy Award. After all, Oscar voters love the young ingenue. (See also past winners Natalie Portman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon and Charlize Theron.)
'Life of Pi' (Nov. 21)
Like Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," "Life of Pi" comes from an acclaimed auteur (Ang Lee), is in 3D, and opens just before Thanksgiving. Twentieth Century Fox is likely hoping the similarities don't end there: "Hugo" went on to earn 11 Academy Award nominations and $184 million in worldwide grosses. Can Lee's adaptation of Yann Martel's best-selling novel turn the same trick?
'Silver Linings Playbook' (Nov. 21)
David O. Russell's last film was the crowd-pleasing, Oscar-winning drama-comedy "The Fighter." The Weinstein Company is betting that lightning strikes twice with "Silver Linings Playbook," a drama-comedy about a man (Bradley Cooper) recently released from a mental institution who forms a relationship with one of his parents' neighbors (Jennifer Lawrence). Robert De Niro and Chris Tucker co-star in this adaptation of Matthew Quick's 2008 book.
'Red Dawn' (Nov. 21)
When this long-delayed remake of "Red Dawn" was first conceived in 2008, stars Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson weren't actually stars. So, this one has that going for it, which is nice.
'Rise of the Guardians' (Nov. 21)
Not to be confused with "The Guardians of Ga'Hoole" (or the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy"), "Rise of the Guardians" imagines a world where Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and other "Guardians" watch over the children of Earth and protect them from evil. Featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin, Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman and Jude Law.
'Playing For Keeps' (Dec. 7)
Because, this fall, one sports-themed Gerard Butler-led drama isn't enough.
'Hyde Park on Hudson' (Dec. 7)
Bill Murray, Oscar winner? It could finally happen thanks to "Hyde Park on Hudson," a historical drama that stars Murray as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Murray's "Rushmore" co-star Olivia Williams as Eleanor Roosevelt and Laura Linney as Margaret Suckley, FDR's cousin and secret lover. Scandal! Roger Michell ("Notting Hill") directs.
'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' (Dec. 14)
Your precious is back. Peter Jackson returns to Middle-earth for the first of three "Hobbit" films.
'Les Miserables' (Dec. 14)
Tom Hooper's last film, "The King's Speech," won Best Picture. Will his follow-up, an adaptation of "Les Miserables" do the same? If the 90-second teaser trailer has any say in the matter, "Les Miserables" very well might. Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks star in the musical, which features <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/story/2012-05-28/les-miserables-singing/55253056/1" target="_hplink">all the actors singing live</a>. In case you needed an added jolt of gotta-see.
'Jack Reacher' (Dec. 21)
Tom Cruise gets his vigilante on "Jack Reacher," an adaptation of Lee Child's best-selling "Jack Reacher" book series.
'This Is 40' (Dec. 21)
Judd Apatow returns to the world he created for "Knocked Up" to check-in on the lives of Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) as they turn 40. The "This Is 40" trailers make the film seem like another winning dramedy from Apatow, who continues to cast his features to perfection: In addition to Rudd and Mann, Albert Brooks, Megan Fox, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd, Lena Dunham and John Lithgow all co-star. No word yet whether original "Knocked Up" stars Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl will appear.
'Zero Dark Thirty' (Dec. 21)
Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to "The Hurt Locker" focuses on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Because simply being the next "Kathryn Bigelow movie" wasn't enough? Stop being such a show-off, "Zero Dark Thirty"!
'The Impossible' (Dec. 21)
Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts star as a couple torn apart by the 2004 Thailand tsunami in "The Impossible." The film seems like a sneaky Oscar dark horse -- especially if the complete feature packs as much of an emotional wallop as its stellar trailer.