'Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston Says He Has His Own Evil Side
With the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad looming ahead like a dark cloud on the horizon, GQ writer Brett Martin sat down with the man behind the meth, Bryan Cranston. In the cover story of the July issue, Cranston reveals his total willingness to commit to a role, which has created some of his most memorable moments on screen, like in the pilot, when creator Vince Gilligan was worried that Cranston would be too cold in his underwear:
Gilligan says: "I took [Cranston} aside and said, 'Would you be more comfortable in sweatpants? Or boxers?' He said, 'Yeah, I'd be more comfortable. What's your point?' 'So you're okay with the tighty-whities?' 'Well, what's the most pathetic thing I could be wearing here?' I said, 'Tighty-whities.' And he said, 'Well, what else do we need to talk about?'"
Cranston truly transformed himself for the role of Walter White; so much so that it's almost easy to forget his earlier role as goofy, slapstick dad Hal on the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle ... almost. Cranston was supposed to play a peripheral character on the show, but because of his penchant for physical comedy, he became a favorite. (Some pseudo-theories about Walter White's fate have him entering the witness protection program and becoming the father of five rambunctious sons, one of whom is named Malcolm.)
It's ridiculous, but it just goes to show the range and power of Cranston's acting. When talking to Martin about his first audition for the character of Walter White, Cranston says he had a perfect vision of who Walter should be, and just how pathetic he should be:
"'I actually thought of my father, how he stands hunched, burdened," he says, slumping his shoulders. "We didn't have Walt stand erect until he became Heisenberg." He also had a precise vision of everything from Walt's weight (186 pounds) to his mustache. "I said, 'I want his mustache to look impotent. I want people to look at it and go, Why bother?' I thought he should wear clothes that blend into the wall: beige, sand, taupe, khaki. His hair should be a mop. Nothing's remarkable about this man." The meeting with Gilligan, scheduled for fifteen minutes, lasted an hour and a half; Gilligan emerged committed to fighting for Cranston to get the role. And the Walter White of that pilot—humiliated by his students, receiving a halfhearted birthday hand job from Skyler as she surfs eBay—was so convincing, so fully hatched in his pathos, that it's impossible even now not to root for him to get up and find his inner Heisenberg."
Perhaps the most interesting question posed to Cranston by Martin is: "Do you believe in evil?"
Cranston replies: "Yeah. I think it's right next to good, inside every person."
"And have you encountered it yourself?" Gilligan follows.
"I had one girlfriend I wanted to kill."
The GQ story is an amazing read about an amazing actor who has embodied the complex and often terrifying role of Walter White. So is there a way that Cranston would like to see Walter White meet his end?
"'I had notions,' he says, of The End. 'Like, what if he created this toxic world around him and, because of his actions, everybody he loved died and he had to stay alive? But then I'd think, he's wrought so much, he has to die. Doesn't he? But if he dies, what does he die of? Maybe he dies of cancer. After all this other danger! But my true answer of how I wanted it to end, my honest answer, is this: however Vince Gilligan wants it to end.'"
Read the rest of the article at GQ, and don't miss the end days of Walter White - the final season of Breaking Bad premieres on August 11 on AMC.