As Breaking Bad's August 11 Season 5 return date draws closer, we can hardly contain our excitement. We're hungry for the conclusion to the jaw-dropping, critically acclaimed series, and we've been scooping up any details we can find like hungry, hungry hippos. We're so lucky to have gotten a little info straight from the source!
Bryan Cranston plays the series protagonist-broken-antagonist Walter White, and when we caught up with him at the Television Critics Association press tour, he gave us just enough tease on the ending, while sharing details on Walt's character development, his career, and his future.
Now that Walt has had the alpha dog beaten out of him, does it feel like it's reemerged?
I think that generally as human beings and especially adults — children not so much — you recognize that you want balance in your life. And you're looking for empowerment, whatever that brings you. Some people find it in their family or their church or their charity or their work or their athleticism or whatever the case may be, their collection, or whatever. And you're looking for something that empowers you, and chemistry empowered him. He felt God‑like when he was around it, and so he was told from a very early age that the sky's the limit.
He can do whatever he wants. His colleagues, his teachers, his friends. And I think he developed a fear of success that made him implode into this depression to go the easy way out. And I often wondered why Vince chose the profession of teacher for him to go into. And I contemplated that for a while, and it finally hit me, as far as what I wanted to use it for, is that it's an unimpeachable position. No one will criticize someone going into the teaching profession. They're above it. If he decided, I'm going to be a truck driver, people would obviously, say, "What the hell are you doing? You're a world class chemist?” But as a teacher, I can hide in teaching because I can say, "I want to influence the next generation of students." And people are going, "Yes, yeah. I get that." And they can support it.
Okay. So he kind of hid out in that, but the depression built. And by the time he's 50, he's now fully cast and balled up. And it's not until this diagnosis that it just blew everything open for him.
You had two great TV series already. Do you think it could happen a third time?
Oh, who knows? I never thought the first one would happen or the second one. I don't look too far in the future. I really stay right in the here and now. I have an eye on what I'd kind of like to do and where I would want to go in a very small sliver of the past.
But the industry knows that you’ll be available soon. Have they been sending more TV offers your way?
Well, one thing that I know is that you have to learn how to manage your own career, and I know that the next television project that I do will be compared to Breaking Bad. I thought the best thing to do was to step away. And I think I'm very fortunate, and it's been a great ride. But I think I'm sensing that I'm too ubiquitous, and I need to step back and get lost in something else.
And so I'm really excited about the next thing I'm going to do, and that's to play Lyndon Johnson in a play in Boston. I'm excited about it.
Have you done a lot of theater?
Yeah, whenever I can. I did two plays between the end of Malcolm in the Middle and the beginning of Breaking Bad. And since Breaking Bad started, you really can't. The timing has to be exactly right for you to fit something in, and it just never really did.
It seems like it's been flawless. Every single episode is so well crafted, so well done, from music and the way it's shot to what the characters are doing. Do you think it’s flawless?
Well, I do. I think it's superb, but I'm too close to it. I'm subjective to it. I was able to be the mouthpiece for Vince Gilligan. I wanted this series to end exactly how Vince Gilligan wanted it to end. And I can stand here now and say I'm really proud that it has. I think every fan of Breaking Bad will be satisfied, pleased at the appropriate ending of this. It's unapologetic and very Breaking Bad.
Are you going to miss playing him?
I'm going to miss him terribly.