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Dual Interview: Aaron Paul Talks Dark Comedy, Working With Karen Gillan

Written and directed by Riley Stearns, the sci-fi film Dual is out in theaters on April 15, 2022. The film stars Karen Gillan, Aaron Paul, and Beulah Koale.

“Upon receiving a terminal diagnosis, Sarah opts for a cloning procedure to ease her loss on her friends and family,” says the synopsis. “When she makes a sudden and miraculous recovery, her attempts to have her clone decommissioned fail and lead to a court-mandated duel to the death. Now she has one year to train her body and mind for the fight of her life.”

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Dual star Aaron Paul about the dark comedy, getting to show off his dancing skills, and his varied acting history.

Tyler Treese: I thought Dual was a really fun film, and what really impressed me was just the dark sense of humor to it all. What was it about the script that really caught your eye?

Aaron Paul: I’m such a huge fan of Riley. I love his work. He’s been a buddy of mine for years now. And so, when this script landed on my desk, I couldn’t wait to kind of dive in and see what story he was telling next. I just love his sort of dryness, like matter-of-fact. That’s kinda like how he is as a person as well. I mean, not necessarily, like, dry, but he’s just very matter-of-fact. I just love him to pieces. So, I just love this story he’s telling. And so for me, it was just a no-brainer. I’ve always wanted to work with him, and I just absolutely love Trent. He’s maybe not the best trainer out there, but he definitely believes in his craft.

Your character in the film, he’s a weapon and battle expert. I know you attended UFC 229, but what’s the extent of your like real-life interest in martial arts and weapons?

I don’t really have much interest, to be honest. Never have. But Riley is really into sort of martial arts, and he’s been asking me to kind of get on the mat with him and I would love to dip my toe in a little bit and see if it intrigues me, but I’ve never really been into athletics. I just kind of like to chill, you know what I mean?

In the film, you do this kind of slow-motion combat sequences that are simulated. It kind of reminded me of live-action role-playing fights. How fun was it filming those?

That scene, I think was one of the best times I’ve ever had on a film set. I mean, both Karen and I showed up and was like, “Okay, how are we going to do this?” We pretty much spent the majority of the day on that scene. After each take, when they yelled cut, we just…all of us were laughing. Not just Karen and I, but the entire crew was just so ridiculous what we were doing. But, it was great.

There’s another scene that really stood out between you two where you were telling Sarah that if she doesn’t have money, you can pay in a mutually beneficial way. So, it’s kinda like “Oh, this guy is a sleeze ball,” but all you wanted to do was learn to hip-hop dance. How was it getting to do that scene and show off your dancing skills?

Terrifying. I’m not a dancer, which is great for the character because he’s not a dancer either, but he’s always had a dream to learn. It’s so funny, like when Karen and I were training with our dance instructors, she just was laughing at us. Literally pointing and laughing and I go, “You’re laughing at us.” and she’s like, “Yeah, it’s funny because you’re actually trying,” and I go, “Well, we are trying” [laughs]. She was an incredible dancer and she’s been dancing her whole life, the instructor. So yeah, we try to take it seriously, but my character wasn’t that great at it, he’s not supposed to be good. So leading up to it, I would see Karen really practicing the moves on set like in another room and I’d sometimes join her, but I’m not supposed to be a super pro. So I didn’t want to even…I mean, let’s be honest, even if I train wherever, I still wouldn’t be good, but yeah, it was fun.

Karen was great in the film and your interactions make up a large bulk of that second act. Can you speak to just working off her?

She’s amazing. I’m such a fan of hers and, I had never met her prior. And so, she’s just such a light on set, she really is. And I see why she just has such a monster career, you just want to be around her and I adore her. So yeah, to be able to play off opposite of her on this film and in such a unique, sort of dry way, telling one of Riley Stearns’ stories is a dream. I hope to do it again soon down the road, but for sure.

Back in 2010, you did this great short with Funny or Die, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, and now it’s actually being made with Daniel Radcliffe. How wild is it to see this joke you did a decade ago become this full-fledged thing?

Oh, it’s amazing. I had the best time. When I sat down with Funny or Die years ago, they asked me what sort of thing I would like to do with them and I just loved their spoof movie trailers. I go, “Look, if you can come up with a great spoof or a movie trailer, I would love to do it,” And so, months down the road, they pitched me Weird, and I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m such a fan of Al,” how can you not be, you know? And so I was really excited to jump on board. I met Al and just loved the man, and got to know him through the years.

They actually sent me the script. Eric Appel wrote the script as well, the guy that did the short and this was years ago, and I read it and, I’m not a funny guy, you know? I really am not. And so I’m like “This is just too much for me to try to take on.” And this was, again, years ago, and that was at the very birth of the idea of turning into a feature. So I’m so happy to see that it’s all finally come together. And Daniel, I’m such huge fan of, and he’s so perfect. I actually was coming to do a cameo and I met Daniel in the parking lot. He was heading to set in the full Hawaiian shirt, big curly black hair, wig. I was coming to do a cameo and I did the COVID test, and I had COVID. I didn’t even know I had COVID, of course, and so I couldn’t do my cameo. Then I was out for 10 solid days. Never have felt more sick in my life. But so sad that I couldn’t go play with them on set.

You also starred in the animated Final Fantasy film a few years ago, and you’re open about how you hadn’t played one of those games. In the meantime, have you had a chance to check one out?

They sent me when I was doing it, they sent me, it’s an Xbox, right? I’m not a big gamer. I try to play it and, I just…I could tell it was really sucking up a lot of time. I mean, I have fun, but yeah, I’m not a big gamer. I used to be, but now I got kids. I mean I have friends that have kids that play games still, but I just kind of just like to run around and scrape up my knees with my kids instead.

Yeah, definitely a better use of your time.

One of your first film roles was Van Wilder and you play this drunk college student.

Oh, yeah.

You call Ryan Reynolds “the raddest fucking dude alive.” When you’re doing a small role in a party scene, talk me through it. Are you pretending to be drunk? Are you a method actor? Are you knocking a few back? How’s that go?

I was wasted. No, I’m kidding. I got to be honest, Ryan Reynolds is the raddest fucking dude alive. I had such a small role in that movie and very excited to do it, you know? But I remember at the premiere, I’m kind of like, just head down, walking past the carpet as fast as possible, and Ryan was in the middle of an interview and he grabs me, he’s like, “You should talk to this guy, this guy’s the real star of the film.” I was just so shocked by it, and it’s something I will always remember. I see he’s just such a kind-hearted man and always has been. I’m just so happy for his success, yeah, but yeah, it was a great experience on screen and off.

You got to reprise Jesse Pinkman in El Camino, and now apparently, you’re going to be in the final season of Better Call Saul. What’s it like stepping into that character after years away?

It’s great. He’s such a part of me, you know? I mean, I lived and breathed every moment of his onscreen life and then some, so it was very easy to kind of zip on that skin again.

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