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The Surprising Jesse Scene In Breaking Bad That Didn't Use A Green Screen

Though it seems like it ran for much longer, AMC's beloved crime drama "Breaking Bad" was only on the air for a total of five seasons. Still, what series creator Vince Gilligan and the rest of the "Breaking Bad" team accomplished in that 62-episode run is the stuff of legend, packing each hour with more pulse-pounding thrills and stark personal drama than most shows deliver in twice as many episodes.

At the center of the drama were Walter White (Bryan Cranston), an average high school teacher who transforms into one of the most fearsome drug kingpins the world has seen, and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), the former student who helps his old teacher take control the New Mexico underworld. Almost a decade after "Breaking Bad" ended, fans of the show continue to marvel at the visceral impact of those intricately-woven character arcs. But even as "Breaking Bad" is still regarded among the most ambitious narrative ventures to ever grace the airwaves, it remains every bit as revered for its visual artistry.

As discussed by regular "Breaking Bad" cinematographer Michael Slovis in a 2012 interview with Indiewire, part of what made the show look so unique was the crew's penchant for using practical effects over digital. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that Slovis and the "Breaking Bad" team managed to shoot one of the show's most talked-about Jesse scenes without the use of a green screen.

Jesse's iconic Season 2 moment was executed sans green screen

The Season 2 scene in question finds Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) using heroin for the first time with his girlfriend, Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter). In a chilling moment of drug-induced euphoria, Jesse falls back on a bed and promptly begins to rise from it, floating high above the scene below him. Per "Breaking Bad" cinematographer Michael Slovis's interview with Indiewire, this shot was achieved by attaching Paul to a board, then actually lifting him from the bed on a camera crane.

From the looks of Reddit, many fans are commonly shocked to learn this scene included no green screen. This includes u/WeHaveTheFacts, who opened their Reddit thread with a behind-the-scenes picture of the shot, accompanied by the title, "I always thought this was a green screen shot with added background. The fact it was practical is actually pretty cool." Praise for the stunning shot soon began trickling in. 

U/KillKrites responded, "Oh wow.. it makes so much sense this was a practical effect, it looks so real in the show ... Vince Gilligan and his team are true artists." Likewise, u/Lunch77 applauded the show's efforts to shy away from digital effects, saying "Breaking Bad's adherence to practical effects is legendary." 

Others left even more detailed comments reflecting on other iconic shots of the series. "To be honest I thought all the cinematography in this show was badass," u/Riverb0atGambler said. "They had a ton of stuff that was shot from really unique perspectives and they created a lot of really cool time-lapses that they definitely had to hang out at a spot all day to get." 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).