How do the 'Breaking Bad' Actors Compare to Their Characters?

Of all the questions we have about Sunday's Breaking Bad season premiere — is Walter going to die? What will Hank do? How soon until someone makes that Star Trek movie idea a reality? — one of them has kept us awake at night: Will Jesse ever be happy again? The poor guy was miserable all episode, whether he was smoking weed in Saul's office or throwing money out car windows. He's far from an innocent bystander, but seeing a clearly torn-up Jesse try to convince Saul to give Mike's money to his granddaughter was heartbreaking. 

The only thing that cheered us up? Remembering that Jesse's portrayer, Aaron Paul, is the happiest guy on the planet. Paul isn't the only Breaking Bad cast member whose life is far different than his character's — read on to see how the lives of the actors behind Walt, Skylar, Skinny Pete and more line up with their characters'. Image: AMC

'Breaking Bad' Actors vs. Characters

Of all the questions we have about Sunday's Breaking Bad season premiere — is Walter going to die? What will Hank do? How soon until someone makes that Star Trek movie idea a reality? — one of them has kept us awake at night: Will Jesse ever be happy again? The poor guy was miserable all episode, whether he was smoking weed in Saul's office or throwing money out car windows. He's far from an innocent bystander, but seeing a clearly torn-up Jesse try to convince Saul to give Mike's money to his granddaughter was heartbreaking. 

The only thing that cheered us up? Remembering that Jesse's portrayer, Aaron Paul, is the happiest guy on the planet. Paul isn't the only Breaking Bad cast member whose life is far different than his character's — read on to see how the lives of the actors behind Walt, Skylar, Skinny Pete and more line up with their characters'. Image: AMC

Walter White...

A mild-mannered chemistry teacher finds out he has cancer and turns to making meth to support his family. Over the course of the series, he becomes a manipulative, murderous drug lord who puts money and power before everything else. He says ridiculous things like "I am the one who knocks" and "say. my. name" — and gets away with it, because everyone's afraid of him. Image: AMC

and Bryan Cranston

Meanwhile, the man behind Heisenberg couldn't be a nicer guy. He's a baseball-obsessed, theater geek family man, who tweets "That's what she said" jokes and takes selfles with Breaking Bad posters. 

Jesse Pinkman...

Jesse is Walt's delinquent former student, who partners with his old teacher to make crystal meth. He's done some bad stuff in his life — killing Gale, for one — but viewers still root for him, because he's the drug dealer with the heart of gold. Still, working with Walt has dampened his spirits, to say the least, and the fiery "Yeah bitch!" attitude of seasons past is long gone. Image: AMC

and Aaron Paul

Aaron Paul may just be the happiest guy on Earth. The 33-year-old recently got married, has a burgeoning film career, and will tell anyone who listens that he's eternally grateful for Breaking Bad. He's frequently seen attending music festivalsgreeting fans on tour buses, and hugging his BFF, Bryan Cranston.

Skyler White...

For the show's first few seasons, Skylar was in the dark about her husband's second life, but after its reveal, she reluctantly got involved. She's smart, tough, and willing to play dirty if it means protecting her family. Image: AMC

and Anna Gunn

Gunn keeps a relatively low profile, and not much is known about her day-to-day life. Yet with two Emmy nominations, she's definitely seen as more likable than her character, who (unfairly) has earned the title of "Most Hated Wife on TV."

Hank Schrader...

Hank, Walt's brother-in-law and an officer with the DEA, started as the show's comic relief but quickly took on a much more substantial role. He's had a dangerously obsessive focus on capturing Heisenberg, and only recently realized that the meth king was a member of his own family. Hank is a decent man, but with some anger issues and panic-attack inducing PTSD. Image: AMC

and Dean Norris

The only thing Dean Norris has in common with Hank is a limp; the actor was hit by a car when he was younger, an injury worked into Breaking Bad. Otherwise, Norris is nothing like his character. For one thing, he has five kids, and we all know Hank could not deal with that.

Marie Schrader...

She may be an annoying kleptomaniac, but Marie has a good heart, and she's incredibly loyal to her family. She's a supportive sister to Skyler, a devoted wife to Hank, and a ready aunt to Walt Jr. and baby Holly. Image: AMC

and Betsy Brandt

Like the rest of the cast, Betsy Brandt takes great pride in working on the show, live-tweeting each episode and posting behind-the-scenes photos. According to her Twitter, she does SoulCycle, shops at Whole Foods, and takes pictures of cakes — in other words, her life is what Marie probably wishes she had, if she didn't have that PSTD-scarred husband and moody teenage nephew to take care of.

Walter Jr....

Walt and Skyler's son has become the comic relief on the show, with his constant breakfast-eating and insistence on being called "Flynn." Still, he's a good kid, albeit an oblivious one, who often found himself torn between his fighting parents. Image: AMC

and RJ Mitte

Like his character, Mitte has cerebral palsy, but his condition isn't nearly as severe (those cruches are just a prop). Unlike his character, he doesn't take himself too seriously, with a Twitter bio that reads "I'm RJ aka Walt Jr. aka Flynn aka your favorite breakfast eater on Breaking Bad." The biggest difference between Walt Jr. and Mitte? The TV show kid would never be caught dead looking like this.

Mike Ehrmantraut...

Before his death, Mike was a private investigator, cleaner, and hit man who was secretly a softie (poor, poor Kaylee) underneath his tough-as-nails exterior. Image: AMC

and Jonathan Banks

The key difference between Mike and Banks? The Breaking Bad fixer would never be seen wearing that fedora (or be seen laughing with Walt and Aaron driving down the street). 

Saul Goodman...

The sleaziest lawyer on TV is also the funniest, between his "you better call Saul" ads and his ridiculous, flamboyant suits. He's not a terrible person, but he's willing to help out the wrong people when large amounts of money are involved. Image: AMC

and Bob Odenkirk

Odenkirk shares Saul's aptitude for comedy, as the actor spent years writing and acting for Saturday Night LiveThe Larry Sanders Show, and Mr. Show. It's a good bet Saul would've gotten a kick out of Movie 43, the raunchy, poorly reviewed "comedy" directed by Odenkirk.

Gus Fring...

The drug king/owner of Los Pollos Hermanos was brilliant and ruthless, hiding in plain sight from the DEA. He was as passionate about his appearance as he was about making meth — in an epic Breaking Bad moment, he straightened his tie the moment before he died. Image: AMC

and Giancarlo Esposito

Esposito's career, which has spanned everything from Broadway to Spike Lee movies to Community, has involved neither meth nor fried chicken (as far as we know). 

Lydia Rodarte-Quayle...

Lydia, a smart but snobby drug distributor, is most often seen as a nervous mess, someone who refuses to order food in a diner for fear that it'll look suspicious but sees nothing weird about wearing dark glasses indoors. As an executive for Madrigal, she worked with Gus, and then Walter, to expand the meth empire. Image: AMC


and Laura Fraser

Fraser is relatively new to the cast, so not too much is known about her. Fun fact, though: She was cast as Jessica Brody on Homeland until Morena Baccarin replaced her. We guess something about her screams "unsuspecting accomplice."

Todd Alquist...

There's not much we know about Todd, except that he has no qualms about killing innocent kids and dissolving their bodies in acid. Image: AMC

and Jesse Plemons

Landry Clarke (yes, we know that's not his real name, but to FNL fans, that's who he'll forever be) is thankfully nothing like his character. He sings and plays guitar, and is close enough with past-and-present cast members to perform at their weddings. 

Hector Salamanca...

He may not have ever spoken on screen, but the old man in the wheelchair was a powerhouse player. He's a former drug king, a loyal patriarch, and a fervent enemy of Gus Fring. Image: AMC

and Mark Margolis

The actor is known for his roles in Darren Aronofsky movies, and we can't imagine Hector Salamanca ever watching Black Swan on TV.

Tuco Salamanca...

Tuco was violent and terrifying, prone to kidnapping Walt and Jesse and killing anyone who gets in his way. He died in a shoot-out with Hank. Image: AMC

and Raymond Cruz

In real life, the actor, who has appeared in Training DayMy Name is Earl, and The Closerhas a love of cooking, not drugs. 

Gale Boetticher

Gale, the chemist groomed by Gus to replace Walt, was a self-described nerd who loved loved coffee, poetry, and music. He wasn't innocent — I mean, he did cook meth — but he was a good guy who didn't deserve to die. Image: AMC

and David Costabile

Costabile has an impressive acting resume, with roles on The Office, House, and Suits, shows you know Gale would've watched. Yet despite Gale's love of music, we can't imagine the chemist being too keen on Cosabile's expansive Broadway career.

Brandon "Badger" Mayhew

After Sunday's premiere, most viewers know him as the guy who came up with the best Star Trek plot ever heard. Badger is Jesse's loyal friend, who, when not stoned out of his mind, is a decent guy. Image: AMC


and Matt L. Jones

This line from Jones' Wikipedia page is enough to make it clear that the actor has nothing in common with Badger: "He has two dogs, Hank Williams and Ernest Hemingway." 

Skinny Pete...

Jesse's other closest friend goes back and forth about what he wants his involvement in the drug trade to be, but ultimately, he's there to support Jesse and provide comic relief, along with Badger. Image: AMC

and Charles Baker

Looks like Skinny Pete's piano skills were no joke. Baker was a theater major at college and has performed around the country.

Jane Margolis...

Jane is a recovering addict who relapses while dating Jesse, and her death is a major catalyst for both Walt's cruel actions later on in the series and Jesse's guilt. Image: AMC

and Krysten Ritter

Ritter is way too quirky for Jane's taste, with funny-best-friend roles in 27 DressesGilmore Girls, and the titular B in Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. Her Twitter background is of her wearing a floral dress and holding a puppy; we can't picture tattoo-artist Jane voluntarily posing for that.