Grand, breathless gestures—from the romantic to the absurd—are very much Paul's thing. The 1920s Parisian-carnival-themed wedding with music by Foster the People and John Mayer? "My idea," he says. So was e-mailing the entire guest list the song "Beauty," by the Shivers (sample lyrics: "I live off love, I feed off love, I breathe off love"), and asking everyone to learn the words. "I tracked down the lead singer in Brooklyn," Paul says. "He's afraid to fly, so he drove all the way to Malibu. When he got to the song and everybody else joined in, Lauren just started weeping in the most beautiful way ever." Paul grabs a black peacoat from the closet and kisses his wife good-bye. "It's all about embracing those moments," he says, "throwing in surprises whenever you can."

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Twenty minutes later, we're standing alone, atop the Alcazaba, a sprawling 1,000-year-old fortress overlooking the Alboran Sea, the part of the Mediterranean that separates Spain from North Africa. Passing through the sand-colored Moorish arches, Paul shares a story about another time he visited a castle. "It was the Prince of Brunei's 25th-birthday party," he says. "Six years ago, outside London." Paul didn't know the prince (he'd come as the guest of a guest, having risen to the level of prime plus-one but not to that of invitee), but the prince immediately took to him. "We got there," Paul says, "and I see all these mud boots, and there were all these sheep, like a thousand sheep, surrounding the castle, and I said, 'Let's go chase after them.' So me and the prince and the princesses, Azemah and Fadzilah, all put on these mud boots and chased the animals." Over the course of the weekend, Paul also broke one of the prince's hovercraft. "Nobody else was riding them," he says, "but if I have a chance to hovercraft around a castle, I'm going to hovercraft around a castle." The height of the weekend's surreality, however, happened indoors. "I was going back up to my room," says Paul, squinting under the Spanish sun, "and this guy grabs me and says, 'Hey, Prince Azim wants to see you in the library.' So I go down there, and he's sitting on the couch with Michael Jackson, and me and Michael Jackson end up having this hour-long heart-to-heart about family and upbringings, and I remember, he just put his arm around my shoulder and said, 'You know, if you've had a rough childhood or not, it's all about forgiveness. Once you realize that, it's fine. Everything's fine.'" Paul pauses, finds a shady spot beneath a tenth-century tower. "And I'm like, 'Michael, you are absolutely right.' And then I go, 'Do you want to do a shot?' And he goes, 'Sure!' And I was like, 'Okay, Michael, let's do this.'"

For his part, Paul comes from humbler beginnings. "My mother gave birth to me on our bathroom floor," he says, making his way across one of the Alcazaba's wide-open and vacant plazas. "My dad, who worked as a Southern Baptist minister, was out of town. My family never owned a home. We leased." Paul—born Aaron Paul Sturtevant in Emmett, Idaho—grew up mostly in the Boise area. Before he graduated from high school, already intent on moving to Los Angeles, he held up to five jobs at a time. "Pizza Hut delivery boy," Paul says, "the cookie stand at the mall, delivering flyers for a local contractor, and I was a big tookie-bird mascot for a top-40 station and a giant frog for a country station." After graduation, in 1998, he drove out with his mom, Darla, in his '82 Toyota Corolla. "I had $6,000 saved, which was so much money for me."