Like father, like son, eh?
During a Times Talk with the cast of Breaking Bad Tuesday, Aaron Paul revealed that one of Bryan Cranston’s favorite on-set pastimes was taking advantage of Paul’s tendency not to read ahead in the scripts – by making Paul believe that his character was about to die. (Yo, bitch: Not cool!)
And at another event held in New York City last night, RJ Mitte – who plays Cranston’s kid on AMC’s drama – explained that he, too, loves messing with people by lying about what’ll happen next on Breaking Bad. “I just say random, horrible things about everyone,” the actor explained with a big smile. “Anything you can think of.”
More specifically, what has Mitte tried to pass off as fact? “That it was all a dream. That we wake up on the island. That everyone’s dead, and Jesse and Walt are lovers. That baby Holly dies.”
At that, Anna Gunn – Cranston’s onscreen wife – clutched her own heart and gestured as though to make her costar stop, clucking that she was acting like his actual mother. Mitte then stopped giving fake spoilers and got to the heart of the matter: “I don’t think people wanna know. You all wanna know, really?” he asked, addressing the crowd. When they responded with a chorus of “no”s, he sat back – as if to say, “See?”
Other fun tidbits gleaned during last night’s Lincoln Center panels, the first of which featured Mitte, Gunn, and Bob Odenkirk, the second of which featured Cranston himself:
- Mitte knew he was meant for the part of Jr. partially because the pilot made special note of the character’s big eyebrows.
- Anna Gunn pitched the idea of Skyler being a frustrated short story writer: “I felt like she was similar to Walt in that she was somebody who had had her dreams deferred. And she was a disappointed person,” she explained. Gunn imagines that Mrs. White’s fiction would be “very painful” and “dark,” along the lines of Raymond Carver or Flannery O’Connor. No wonder Walt fell in love with her.
- Remember how horrified you were when Gus Fring cut poor Victor’s throat with a box cutter? You’re not alone: According to Odenkirk, somebody actually fainted when that scene played during season 4’s official premiere. “They had to call a paramedic. They had to stop showing the show!” he remembered.
- Odenkirk’s original pitch for Saul’s hairdo: “He’s got a mullet in back, and he’s got a comb over. But it’s business on the sides.”
- In Cranston’s mind, Walt’s descent into darkness is all the result of a deep depression. “He was a depressed man from missed opportunities, and over the years…he would just gloss over, gloss over, pushing it down, pushing it down,” he explained. From his research, Cranston found that depression tends to manifest in one of two ways: “One, you explode and blame everyone for your misfortune,” he said. “Or you implode – and that’s what happened to Walter White.”
- Walt’s look in the show’s early days was carefully calculated to evoke that sense of depression. Cranston wanted him to be 10-14 pounds overweight, completely colorless “in his hair or his face,” clad in “clothes that match the walls, so he’s unremarkable in every way” – and sporting “a mustache that people look at and go, ‘Either grow it or shave it!’ I said I wanted it to look like an impotent mustache.”
- Heisenberg, by contrast, is physically taller than Walt because he walks with his shoulders unslumped and his chest puffed out – like a guy constantly poised for a fight, said Cranston.
- When Cranston imitates Breaking Bad creator (and certified Southern gentleman) Vince Gilligan, he sounds like he’s doing a Bill Clinton impression.
- Cranston commemorated his time on the show by getting a tiny Breaking Bad logo tattooed between two fingers on his right hand. (The placement was mostly a practical consideration; “I don’t want to mark something that I have to constantly cover up,” he explained.) A Breaking Bad “art department guy” who doubles as a tattoo artist did the deed after shooting had wrapped on the show’s very last scene. Cranston called the decision a Walt-esque impulsive moment: “I thought, okay, I’m going to get a tattoo. I’m going to shock the hell out of my wife.” Better a tattoo than cooking meth, right?
P.S. The first eight episodes of Breaking Bad’s fifth season are on Netflix as of today. You’re welcome.