Actors from popular television shows often have difficulty breaking into films. I'm not really sure as to why, but "Breaking Bad" felt like one of those shows where all the main actors could've probably picked any project they wanted after that series ended. "Breaking Bad" existed at a time before streaming really took off. It was one of those event shows. I've been open about not watching a ton of television, but I definitely follow along with "Breaking Bad." It was a phenomenon. I figured that pretty much all the main actors would be A-list stars. Bryan Cranston isn't exactly slumming it, but the guy who's come out of it with the greatest success in film has been Jesse Plemons.
Bryan Cranston has had a remarkable career in film and television, but he was already a name before "Breaking Bad" existed. He was the dad on "Malcolm in the Middle." He was rarely a leading man, but he was in that J.K. Simmons category of character actors you always loved seeing. Aaron Paul was an unknown, and because he was the youngest of the group, I kind of figured he would end up being the biggest star in movies. And again, it's not like these guys live at the poor house. I just figured that they would have careers that would take off. But Plemons has been the one who's taking off the most.
Credit to Jesse Plemons, dude. The guy went from being the kid in the orphanage in "Like Mike" to being a supporting actor in "Breaking Bad" to being a guy in a million different movies. He hasn't been typecast, either. He's done dramas, he's done comedies, he's been in films that have been nominated for Academy Awards. He got nominated for an Oscar for his first performance in "The Power of the Dog." It speaks to the power of being smart with the projects you choose. Aaron Paul is a brilliant actor, but from a film standpoint, the first thing he did right after Breaking Bad was that poorly received "Need For Speed" movie. I feel like he never got another big shot after that.
Looking at his IMDb page, Plemons is a fucking workhorse man. The number of series and movies he's been in over the last decade is staggering. And he's always great. That's the thesis of this blog. The guy has become a brilliant actor. He's the equivalent of that baseball player that you might not think much of, but then you look at the end of the season and realize they put up a 5 WAR. There's something to be said for that.
Some people will still contend that Bryan Cranston is a bigger name. It's close, but Plemons has been so prolific, being in so many different genres of film, that I think mainstream audiences might know him better at this point. Cranston is a better actor, but that's not a knock on Plemons. Few actors are better than Bryan Cranston, but I view this as something about the underdog story. Nobody could've seen this coming in 2013.