Thomas Schnauz, the creator and director of Better Call Saul, reveals why the show did not digitally de-age Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul for their return. The writer-director of Better Call Saul discusses why the show chose not to digitally de-age Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.
In April, it was revealed that Walter White and Jesse Pinkman would certainly appear at some point in the final season of AMC’s Breaking Bad spinoff.
The only thing left for fans to do was wait for the two main Breaking Bad characters to eventually make their anticipated debut.
As it turned out, Better Call Saul would make fans wait quite a bit to see Pinkman and White again. But the time finally arrived in Thursday night’s episode of “Breaking Bad,” which recreated Walt and Jesse’s initial encounter with Saul Goodman from Saul’s perspective.
Cranston and Paul did not appear to have been dramatically de-aged for their sequences, despite the fact that they are now 14 years older than they were when they initially played their characters on Breaking Bad.
The decision not to de-age Cranston and Paul may have made it tough for some viewers to suspend their disbelief and believe they were seeing White and Pinkman as they were when Breaking Bad first aired over a decade ago.
Better Call Saul “Breaking Bad” episode writer-director Thomas Schnauz addressed this topic and explained why excessive de-aging effects were avoided. He said:
There’s only so much you can do before it starts looking ridiculous. We don’t do a ton of de-aging on the show. There’s a little bit of stuff on the guys’ faces to take a few lines out here and there, but other than that, Aaron is not going to look like an 18-year-old kid or however old Jesse was during this time period. … I do sort of dread people cutting this scene into the world of “Breaking Bad” and trying to match the way they look then and now, but it’s not something you can worry too much about. It is what it is. We’re telling a story and you can roll with it or you start picking at: “He looks much older than he did in the original scene.” We decided to go for it, and I’m glad we did.
Throughout its six seasons, the subject of whether Better Call Saul should do more to de-age its characters for the purpose of timeline consistency has been raised numerous times.
Schnauz has addressed the topic before, telling fans on Twitter some time ago that the expense of de-aging is a major factor in why the programme does not take that route.
Instead of using de-aging to make characters like Saul Goodman and Gus Fring appear younger, the show relies on its writing, direction, and acting to keep the audience in a state of suspended disbelief, where they don’t question the truth of what they’re watching.
It is up to each spectator to decide whether or not they can suspend disbelief when it comes to age differences between performers and the characters they are portraying.
A person like Paul, who looks significantly different today than when he played Pinkman on Breaking Bad, may be difficult to accept as a much younger character.
The episode of “Breaking Bad” used some old-school lighting and camera angles to mitigate the jarring effect of seeing these characters represented by actors who are no longer the appropriate age.
But ultimately, there is a limit to what can be done, and it is up to the audience to accept it or not. In any case, Better Call Saul provided an excellent return for Walt and Jesse, providing fans a unique perspective on the events of Breaking Bad and allowing the cherished characters to share the screen once more.