Reddit’s community for Photoshop Battles loves messing with photos of celebrities. Of the all-time top-rated posts, nine feature actors, filmmakers, and other public figures. Among those is a recent contest featuring a picture of Aaron Paul. So many people liked the contest that it currently has nearly 50,000 upvotes and over 1,000 comments. Among the contest’s fans? Aaron Paul himself, whose shared one submission on his Instagram.
The original picture comes from 2012, shortly after the last episode of the first half of Breaking Bad‘s fifth season aired on AMC. Paul took a front row seat at the Burberry Spring Summer Womenswear Fashion Show in Kensington Gardens. Photographer Gareth Cattermole snapped this picture of him staring at a runway model with a curious expression. Redditor TediBare123 posted it on August 1 as “Aaron Paul confused by fashion,” and many commenters interpreted his expression similarly. Others speculate he might have just been checking her out. Either way, they found it ripe for material.
A Vietnamese user known as cyan1618, elected to replace the model with Paul’s Breaking Bad co-star, Bryan Cranston. However, it wasn’t a clipping of Cranston as his Breaking Bad character, but as goofy father Hal from Malcolm in the Middle – specifically, the episode “Malcolm Holds His Tongue,” in which Hal becomes obsessed with “race-walking.” This is the one Paul shared on his Instagram account @glassofwhiskey, calling it “one of the great memes that was created during the battle.”
In an exclusive interview with Trill! Magazine, cyan1618 said he feels “awesome and overwhelmed” by the responses to his edit. He was first drawn to /r/photoshopbattles when he “kept seeing those posts on 9GAG about some kind of battles somewhere.” After more than a year of posting on the subreddit, he now has a post so popular that it received Reddit Gold and more than 12.6 thousand upvotes. In his words, “My life is complete!”
He doesn’t just do this for fun, either – it’s his line of work. cyan1618 is a graphic designer by trade, and you can see his skill in the attention to detail in the picture. Unlike the original model’s practiced strut, Hal is race-walking down the catwalk, so cyan1618 gave him a little motion blur. Meanwhile, he retains the model’s gilded purse, which actually reflects his fiery-red bodysuit. This idea could have gotten laughs from a crude cut-and-paste, but these little touches make Hal feel more present. This makes Paul’s bewilderment more palpable and the picture even funnier.
This makes it all the more impressive that cyan1618 claims to have taken very little time with the picture. “I finished the submission in about 15 minutes (just for fun so I didn’t invest so much time on it). I went to sleep right after, and the next morning, whoosh, fireworks.”
When asked why he does this, he said, “I like to make beautiful stuff and make people laugh.” Well, he made Aaron Paul laugh. Oh, and Paul tagged Bryan Cranston himself in the Instagram picture, so cyan1618 might just make another beloved actor laugh, too.
Bonus: More from the Photoshop Battle!
Here are a few other “great memes,” as Paul called them, from the contest.
For more Photoshop fun with celebrities, check out this article!