Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad interview - Digitalspy


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DS talk to Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston about the future of the show.
A man on his deathbed with terminal cancer, some hardcore family betrayal, and more than a trip to the dark side... No, it's not the latest instalment of the Saw franchise - it's acclaimed drama series Breaking Bad! With the first and second seasons about to drop on Five USA and a third season on the way Stateside, we caught up with leading man Bryan Cranston for a chat about the show and what's it's like to play Walter 'not-whiter-than-white' White.

The show has a large following online and has won a lot of awards. What's the secret to its success?
"Does it have a large following online? Good job! I think it's attracting audiences because it's different. In the States AMC told our studio and producers that they didn't want anything that could be seen on broadcast networks like NBC, CBS, ABC - they wanted something different and they have to have something different because there's such competition to draw attention to any show. It has to strike a chord with viewers but if it's really daring and exceptional you're not going to have a large audience at any given time because it's not safe television. The lines between good and evil are very blurred."

We're about to get season two here. What can we expect from that?
"In season two it really explores the ramifications of his decision and the penalties he's going to pay emotionally and physically. It's in regards to the chemotherapy but more importantly in regard to deciding to become a drug dealer. He's a scientist - he's not equipped to deal with people who are nefarious like drug-dealers, liars and cheats. So he's under-prepared for this and throughout season two it feels like he's taking one step forward and two steps back."

When do his family discover the truth?
"Aha - you'll have to be patient my friend! I think it is going to be revealed. In season two it gets very close and my wife discovers that I've been lying and everything I've worked for - putting the family unit together and keeping it together - is going to be jeopardised. He realises, 'What have I done? Everything that I've wanted is going to be lost so I have to make some more changes'. Legally, too, my brother-in-law, who is the DEA agent, is closing in on the identity of this Heisenberg person [Walter's pseudonym]. It's like a noose wrapped round my neck getting tighter."

I heard his tumour shrinks in the second season. Is there a chance of a full recovery?
"You're talking about going into remission and you know what I learnt about this? Remission has the connotation that it's receded and things are better but all that it means is that whatever stage you were diagnosed at, it hasn't progressed beyond that point. You've probably bought yourself a little more time because it's not progressing as fast. I do go into somewhat of a remission stage in season two and I'm contemplating trying a surgery that might even increase my lifespan by another few months but at the end of it I will still be dead."

Do you think Walter has to pay for his crimes or do you think the payment will be his eventual death?
"There's a season long mystery connected with season two and a lot of people are saying, 'Is he going to die such and such a way?' but no - that would be letting Walt off the hook if he just died suddenly or quickly being hit by a bus or something. All I know is that I will die at some point at the end. I don't know how it's going to happen but I'm not going to be hit by a bus. It's going to be a bit more involved!"

Do you have an ending in mind?
"Vince [Gilligan, creator] has an ending in mind. He didn't offer to tell me and I didn't ask. Quite frankly I'm enjoying the idea of getting each script and reading it almost like a viewer would. I get each script and it's like opening a present - I get startled and I laugh a little bit and it's a full package - I like that surprise."

How does the role of Walter compare to the other characters you've played?
"It's the role of my career. Complex, sympathetic, frustrating, physically demanding, emotionally demanding - I mean I understand this man, I commiserate with him, yet I'm angry with him for what he's doing. We're more complex as human beings and today's television shows are demanding more honest portrayals and we feel that's what Breaking Bad ushers in. We weren't the first - you have Tony Soprano or Michael Chiklis in The Shield, Denis Leary in Rescue Me - so there are templates there and that gave us permission to tell a story about a man who's not necessarily a good person."

But he's doing it for the right reasons, isn't he?
"What's interesting is that it starts out that way. I think the trait in all human beings is trying to justify our actions, but what's happening here - and you'll see this in the second season - is that Walt becomes addicted to the rush of what he's doing. We're going to explore and be honest about his journey but also his ego and how it steps in and affects his decisions. It's not always going to be very clear as far as this character and what his motives are."

Does it make a difference having more episodes to play with this season compared to the first?
"We got cut short [in the first season] because of the writers' strike - we were going to do nine because I was only contracted for nine. Everything worked out really well so it increased to thirteen for season two and then we have thirteen coming up for season three. We're hoping to be able to extend the series for as long as it takes the story to be told well and, given the set of circumstances I think we could do five years of thirteen episodes but at the end of that it has to end. It's better to keep the story strong."

Breaking Bad season one begins Tuesday, November 3 at 11pm on Five USA. Season two follows Saturday, December 19th.