Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) is one of Breaking Bad’s most iconic characters, in part because despite everything he goes through, he still has a soul.
Most of the show — which follows Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse as they strike up a partnership and start cooking meth together — happens while Jesse is still, essentially, just a kid. Walt only knows him because he’s a former student, and their partnership starts when Jesse is very much still a small-time meth dealer. As the series evolves, Jesse becomes more and more involved in the criminal underworld, and by the end of the show, he’s just as good at cooking meth as Walt. It’s his skills as a cook, in fact, that ultimately lead him to be imprisoned by Nazis who put him in an underground hole and force him to cook for them.
The series finale of Breaking Bad, “Felina,” follows Walt as he devises a plan to free Jesse from captivity, which he succeeds at doing by the end of the episode. For years, the last thing that fans saw of Jesse was him fleeing the scene, into an uncertain future, but 2019 saw the release of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on Netflix, which takes place immediately following Jesse’s escape. The film offers an extended, much-desired send-off for the character that he didn’t get in Breaking Bad. However, it does raise a question — by this point, just how old is Jesse?
Jesse seems older in El Camino. Is he?
Although Jesse has been through several different forms of hell by the time El Camino starts, he’s still quite young, when you look at the broad picture. “Felina” — which El Camino takes place immediately after — is set on Walt’s birthday, which is known to be September 7. Because Walt is turning 52, we also know that the finale is taking place in 2010. Jesse’s age was first mentioned by Gus’s doctor in the episode “Crawl Space,” and Jesse’s birthdate is established as September 24, 1984, which means that during the events of both “Felina” and El Camino, he should be 25 years old. It’s entirely possible that he turned 26 somewhere in the middle of the events of El Camino, but it’s not mentioned, if so.
As for why Aaron Paul looks older than that: El Camino was released in 2019, several years after the end of Breaking Bad. That means that, although Aaron Paul was playing a 25-year-old (or 26-year-old) in the movie, by the time it was actually filmed, he was roughly 39 years old.
The thrust of the movie involves Jesse’s attempt to escape from Albuquerque and start over in Alaska. By the end of the movie, he’s gotten the happy ending that he’s been working for. Given his relative youth when the movie ends, it seems that Jesse still has plenty of time to find some happiness, even if the past few years of his life were so horrible.
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