IT wasn’t even shown on TV in this country, but it hasn’t stopped US drama Breaking Bad from gaining a huge and enthusiastic audience here.

There is even a burgeoning trend for Breaking Bad parties where people dress as their favourite characters.

So, when you tell someone you’re meeting the actor Aaron Paul, who played Breaking Bad’s Jesse, to discuss his new film Need for Speed, hysteria tends to break out.

Let’s put it this way, no-one really seemed to care when I met Lee from Blue (even though he was a great interview and a thoroughly nice guy).

And, Aaron (also a thoroughly nice guy) is the first to recognise how much his life has changed since Breaking Bad.

He said: “I have been part of this business for 17 years, I joined the show six years ago and my life has changed dramatically.

“I hold Breaking Bad on such a high plateau that I always joke around that it’s always downhill from here, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I’m able to stay busy because of it.”

Rather than taking a step down, Aaron has become a Hollywood leading man.

Need for Speed is based on the hugely successful racing game, and in it Aaron is a fully-fledged action man. It’s a departure from Jesse but did he see himself as an action star?

“Maybe when I was five or six years old wearing my cape and pretending to be Superman,” he said. “But other than that, no.”

Aaron plays Tobey, a mechanic and talented street racer who is out for revenge against suave rival, Dino (played by Kidbrooke’s Dominic Cooper).

Director Scott Waugh was adamant he wanted the high octane stunts to be real and shunned CGI, so all of the stars had driver training so they could handle the smorgasbord of exotic supercars.

He said: “When I signed onto this project, Scott wanted me to be in the driver’s seat and learn how to drive these cars.

“The few days was just learning how to get out of problematic situations. It wasn’t learning how to drive 200mph.

“The fastest I ever got was 125mph, maybe 130mph. Any time the cars were going faster they brought in the real drivers.

“If he felt it was safe, he’d say get in the driver’s seat. The stuntmen and women were there for a reason and that’s what they do.

“They were the ones who really made it look like we knew what we were doing.”

Some of the stunts involved a pod car, where Aaron sat in the driver’s seat but the car is driven by a stuntman on top.

Aaron said: “The first time we got into the pod car, it was terrifying, But after that is became exciting.

“It was like the most realistic video game.”

He said: “I’ve always been a fan of cars. I grew up loving cars. I used to play around in my uncle’s ’67 Mustang. That was when the love of cars began.

“I have an old classic car myself. I got it four or five years ago. It’s a ‘65 Shelby Cobra and I love it.”

In order to buy the car, Aaron had to fight off bids on eBay.

He said: “I went through a crazy bidding war. Me and like four other bidders. I was on every single second. The last 12 hours it was on I was just on eBay because I wanted the car so bad.”

It’s all a miles away from his first car, a 1982 Toyota Corolla.

“It was pretty beat up. Any time it rained, the trunk would fill up with water so you couldn’t put anything back there. The water would stay in there until it eventually evaporated.”

Need for Speed is out Wednesday (March 12).