Making light of suicide is a risky business, but Aaron Paul isn't worried...
His new film, A Long Way Down, is adapted from Nick Hornby's best-seller and follows four strangers who meet as they prepare to hurl themselves from the roof of a skyscraper. Not immediately fodder for laughs – but Pascal Chaumeil's film is peppered with jokes, a dollop of schmaltz and scored with plinky plonky rom-com music.
Nevertheless, the Breaking Bad star has no trepidation about his audience's reaction. "Not at all. That's the world – if there's going to be a negative reaction, I don't know why there would be because that's just the world. Suicide is a real thing and so it's OK for us to talk about real things. If people don't think it's OK then they shouldn't watch the movie."
Since Breaking Bad came to an end last year, Paul has switched his focus to movies, starring in motor-racing thriller Need for Speed before switching pace for A Long Way Down which sees him play troubled musician JJ opposite Pierce Brosnan, Imogen Poots and Toni Collette. Their four characters – also a disgraced television presenter, out-of-control party animal and harried single mother – make a rooftop pact not to end their lives, a journey that sees them through hospital waiting rooms, national chat shows and an impromptu trip to Tenerife.
On a career high thanks to Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman, Paul is hot property in Hollywood – so what led him to the role of JJ? "Nick Hornby has a way of bringing you into his world and you're instantly invested in the characters the moment you start reading his books and the moment you start watching his films. He just has a way of writing characters that you can relate to – that's what made me fall in love with the story. Even though we were dealing with a very serious situation, it is also very, very funny."
What does he think the film offers anyone feeling suicidal? "That life is beautiful and life is rare and suicide is never the answer. This film is about four people looking for a way out. They're desperate and just by chance they all meet each other on the same rooftop they're planning on jumping off and they end up saving each other."
A Long Way Down is released in UK cinemas today. Take a look at the trailer below...