Last month, AMC premiered a new show called Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston. Cranston, who is known from his work on such shows as Malcolm In The Middle, How I Met Your Mother, and Seinfeld, stars on the series. Critics call his character, Walt White, the “role of a lifetime” for Cranston, who has been in the business for over 25 years. Breaking Bad airs on Sunday nights at 10pm ET. Last week, the Emmy nominated actor sat down with BuddyTV and talked about his new series.
Below, you will find the complete transcript and mp3 of the interview.
Hey everybody. This is Gina from BuddyTV, and today I’m talking to Bryan Cranston from the new AMC show, Breaking Bad. When you meet fans, what do they know you most for do you think?
Right now it’s Malcolm, they’ll know me as the dad from Malcolm in the Middle for the most part. I still get a legion of people who remember my character Tim Whatley, the dentist on Seinfeld. There are people who know me from the neighbor on King of Queens, and then every once in awhile I’ll get some egghead guy who goes “Oh, From the Earth to the Moon, the Apollo project. I saw you.” So I love to talk to them.
Well now people are going to know you as Walt White, since you’re starring in a new show on AMC called Breaking Bad. How did you get involved in the project?
I got a stack of scripts to read, new pilots that were starting up, from my agents. I flipped through the first one and it was boring and I tossed it aside. I got down to a couple others and I was reading Breaking Bad, what’s this about? I started reading it, and reading it and reading it and reading it, and usually you’ll stop somewhere because it’s just not that good. I read Breaking Bad from cover to cover, and I stopped right away at the end and I called my agency and I said, “I need to get in on Breaking Bad.” It just seemed to work out, and I love this character, he’s wonderfully complex. What we’ve created on Breaking Bad is this dilemma for the audience even, that they like this man, they sympathize with this man, and yet they hate what he’s doing. It’s a great moral dilemma for them.
Now the show just premiered late last month on AMC. Can you give the BuddyTV readers a little synopsis of the show for those who haven’t become familiar with it yet?
Sure. Breaking Bad is about a middle-aged high school chemistry teacher who is depressed. He’s filled with regret, he probably should have gone after his dream all those years ago and he didn’t, and that sort of informed his life. He became introverted and soft, a little flabby, colorless. He’s invisible, basically, to the world around him. He’s got a wife who he loves, a special needs son of 16 who has Cerebral Palsy, an accident baby on the way, and on top of this he finds out that he’s got terminal lung cancer with a year or two to live, regardless of treatment. So at first he’s numb by this information, and then he’s thinking what am I gonna do? I can’t leave my wife with these two children penniless, I need to do something, anything. In that desperate condition he decides to make a desperate move, and he uses his chemistry background to make as much money as he can before he dies by cooking crystal meth and becoming a drug dealer.
People are drawing comparisons to the show Weeds. What is the difference for you between the two shows?
I like Weeds, I enjoy watching it. It’s funny and it feels real, and the actors are terrific and the writing is great. I think we are different in that it seems like she is in a upper middle class and she’s trying to maintain her lifestyle. In Breaking Bad, we are definitely in a lower middle class and just trying to hang on, going from paycheck to paycheck. The other difference is the drug of choice in here. Marijuana, which is very mild really and a passive drug, the crystal meth is anything but. It’s a very serious, dangerous drug, that is very dangerous to society. My character, even though he is busy making this and putting it out on the street, he is also feeling the effects and the repercussions from what he’s doing. That certainly heightens our drama on Breaking Bad, and as the season progresses you’ll see that he’s going to face the ramifications of his decision.
When you’re acting, do you have a preference of doing comedy or drama?
I really enjoy comedy, because the nature of it. You’re going to work, you’re cracking up, the crew is laughing and having fun, and it seems to make the day go faster. On the other hand, drama is really more heartfelt and it sinks into your soul more, so the best thing for an actor is to be able to mix it up and do both. After seven years of Malcolm in the Middle, of doing comedy both verbal and physical, and now doing Breaking Bad, I have an opportunity to explore that part. The irony too is that Breaking Bad is also very funny. At times it’s really darkly funny.
We never hear anything about you, Bryan Cranston, getting into trouble or being in the tabloids. What’s life like for you outside of Hollywood when you’re not acting?
I think my favorite story that refers to that question is, I was nominated for an Emmy a couple times. One year, I had just come from the red carpet, I’m in a tuxedo, people are asking for autographs and taking my picture and all this. We got home, and my wife is in the kitchen and she smells something funky, and said, “Oh, the trash. There’s something leaking here, you’ve got to take this out.” She hands me the trash, and like a dutiful husband I grab the trash and I go out to the trash can, keeping it at arm’s length because it’s dripping. I realize I don’t want it to drip on my patent leather shoes or my tuxedo that I’m still in, and I’m thinking, 20 minutes ago people around the world are asking for my autograph, and now I’m taking out trash. That is really how life is, and that’s how it should be, that you enjoy the fruits of your labors and yet that’s not where you live. The foundation of your life that you create is how you want to live day in and day out. I have really a very normal lifestyle at home. A wife, a daughter of 14, and a house, a dog, chores, bills to pay, the normal thing.
Well, this Sunday AMC is going to air the first two episodes of Breaking Bad after the Super Bowl, and a new episode is premiering February 10. Thanks so much for talking to us today, Bryan.
Thanks, I appreciate it. Thanks so much.
– Gina Scarpa, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of AMC)