Breaking Bad Star Makes No Money From Netflix Streams

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Updated

breaking bad better call saul
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul

It’s been almost two months since the Screen Actors’ Guild joined the Writers’ Guild of America on strike. There are many issues that the two unions are opposing, one of which is the fight against unfair payment. Since going on strike on July 14, many actors have spoken out against the lack of fair pay, and according to The Independent, Breaking Bad actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are the latest to share that they, too, do not receive any residuals from Netflix streams.

“I don’t get a piece from Netflix on Breaking Bad, to be totally honest, and that’s insane to me.”

Aaron Paul, star of Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul recently gathered to support striking screen actors and raise their voices against the changing landscape of the entertainment industry. Standing outside Sony Pictures Studios on August 29, the stars of the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad called upon Hollywood studios to resume negotiations with striking actors and address the challenges posed by the streaming revolution.

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Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad

The landscape of the entertainment industry has transformed significantly over the past decade, primarily due to the emergence of streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. These platforms have disrupted traditional production and access to content. Yet, compensation practices have not been updated, leaving many actors, including household names like Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, S.O.L., when it comes to getting paid for cable shows, like Breaking Bad, that later transferred over to streaming.

Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Jesse Plemons used their experience with Breaking Bad as an example of why actors are on strike.

“I don’t get a piece from Netflix on Breaking Bad, to be totally honest, and that’s insane to me,” Aaron Paul said. The actor elaborated that these streaming platforms have gotten away with not paying fair wages for long enough and that he and his fellow actors now expect platforms like Netflix to “pony up.” 

Aaron Paul’s co-star, Jesse Plemons, who played Todd Alquist in Breaking Bad, emphasized how the industry’s structure had changed. He highlighted that ten years ago, the industry’s setup allowed mid-level actors, or “journeymen-type actors,” to thrive. However, the rise of streaming services has altered this dynamic, leaving many actors feeling undervalued and under-compensated.

Jesse Plemons in Breaking Bad

Sony Pictures Studios was chosen as the site for this picket-line reunion, as it was responsible for Breaking Bad‘s Emmy-winning success, along with its spinoff projects such as Better Call Saul and the Netflix film El Camino. However, despite picketing against the studios, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul made it clear that they didn’t intend to vilify these Hollywood executives but wanted to make them aware of the realities actors are facing.

Breaking Bad won countless awards and is considered one of the greatest shows of all time, yet the stars receive little to no residuals for their exceptional work.

The cast of Breaking Bad are not the only ones speaking out against unfair wages in the streaming age. Picketing alongside Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston, and Jesse Plemons were actors from other popular shows, including Parks and Recreation and the cult hit Jury Duty.

As the industry grapples with the dominance of streaming services, it becomes increasingly crucial to ensure that actors, writers, and other creators receive fair compensation for their contributions to the success of these platforms. As Aaron Paul and the rest of the Breaking Bad cast join the ranks of hundreds of Hollywood creatives, it’s clear that SAG-AFTRA and WAG are not backing down from the fight until these unions finally receive the pay they deserve.