“Yo no estoy en peligro. El peligro soy yo” – Breaking Bad, Episode 6, Season 4. (Translation: “I’m not in danger. I am the danger.”)
Say hola to Walter Blanco, better known to U.S. audiences as Walter White, the quiet, cancer-stricken chemistry teacher turned meth cook in cult drama Breaking Bad. In Metastasis, Walter looks the same – actor Diego Trujillo’s craggy face, goatee and wire-rimmed glasses make him an eerie doppelgänger for Bryan Cranston – but he speaks Spanish and lives in the Colombian capitol of Bogotá.
“That [danger quote] was my favorite line from the series – it’s so dramatic,” says Trujillo of the iconic scene where Walt faces off against Skylar in a memorable monologue. “This is great writing, an amazing scene that works great in any language.”
But fans, take note: while the two shows are nearly identical from scene to scene, there are several key differences beyond the script’s language.
For starters, Walter is a private school teacher (in Latin America, private schools are attended in greater numbers than public school). The RV he and Jesse used as their meth lab has been replaced by a rickety school bus (RVs aren’t common in Colombia) and Saul Bueno (Bueno = good, get it?) doles out legal advice on a late night talk show, because a commercial just isn’t grand enough. And the White’s pool has been replaced with a fountain that serves as the backdrop for one particularly memorable moment. (It’s too cold for an outdoor pool in mountainous Bogotá.) Fans, remember when Skylar falls into the pool in the fourth episode of season 5? Well, things go a little differently for Cielo (the literal translation of “Sky” in Spanish).
“We were able to play with a dream sequence, where Cielo thinks she’s in a pool but actually falls into a fountain,” says Roberto Urbino, who plays the role of José Miguel (Jesse) in Metastasis. “It came out kind of poetic, actually.”
Gone are the crew of neo-Nazis who are appear in the last season, replaced with a far-right Colombian paramilitary group. Even the U.S.-Mexico border war looks slightly different in Metastasis, with a Latin American perspective on the trickle-down implications of the conflict.
“The fact is, most of the issues that Albuquerque faces as a border town are the same problems we face all across Latin America,” says Urbino, a Colombian actor who has had guest starred on U.S. shows like The Mentalist and Grey’s Anatomy. “There was no difficulty in translating that particular situation for our show.”
Metastasis – which will cram six years of action into episodes that will air nightly on Unimas for three months, a serial format made popular by telenovelas – boasts high production values, unlike the traditionally soapy shows and poor remakes prevalent on Spanish-language television.
“I hope that people will be able to talk about the ethics around the decisions Walter makes,” notes Trujillo. “There’s too much of a stigma around drugs right now. But if your family was in risk or in danger, what would you do to keep them safe? What Walter does makes him human. It would be great if those discussions came up.”
Urbino, a long-time fan of the series, had other concerns while filming. Namely, weaning himself off Breaking Bad, which aired its final season while Metastasis was in production.
“I had to stop watching the series in order to focus on [our version of the] story,” he explains. “I had [Aaron Paul’s] Jesse stuck in my head, but I had to find a way to make the character my own.”
And just like the original, Metastasis may leave fans hungry for more after its memorable last scene. Especially if Walter didn’t actually die, as Cranston recently hinted.
“[That] possibility would be fascinating,” says Trujillo, laughing.
Metastasis will premiere in the U.S. (sadly, without English subtitles) on June 8 at 10 ET/PT on Univision, Unimas, and Galavision. Check out an exclusive trailer of the show below.