As Breaking Bad ends its run, the stars of the series met the Television Critics Association one last time. Of course, they would not reveal what happens in the series finale, but the cast did reflect on aspects of their characters they’d explored as well as things that didn’t quite make it onto the small screen.
“I actually have some thoughts about Saul but I’ve never run them by [series creator] Vince [Gilligan],” Bob Odenkirk said. “I’ll tell you one thing, I think he’s from Chicago. I’m from outside of Chicago. A lot of Chicagoans love to go to the southwest, get out of the weather. They perceive everyone to the west of Chicago as being easy to manipulate. You can sell granola to those people! They eat raisins and crap that grows on trees! That’s the Chicago I know. That’s why he would be attracted to that part of the country. There’s so much manipulation that goes on, the government of Chicago is all backstage deals so it’s in the blood there.”
R.J. Mitte, who plays Walt Jr., has cerebral palsy in real life. Though the details weren’t portrayed on the show, he incorporated them into his character. “People don’t realize, when you have a disability that actually affects your muscle that you go through binding, and the binding process is not very pleasant,” Mitte said. “That’s not just a daily process. That’s a nightly process. So when I was creating Walt, Jr., I was thinking about everything that I went through with casting and binding and leg immobilizers and everything with that. So that was a big, big basis for Walt, Jr.”
Playing siblings Skyler and Marie, Anna Gunn and Betsy Brandt had some secrets about their character’s childhoods. “[We] would talk, ‘What the F are their parents like?’” Brandt shared. “What happened? Which was fun for us to talk about in hair and makeup.”
Gunn elaborated, “I always felt that and we always felt that these two did not have a happy childhood and so they had to stick together no matter what, and I always felt that Skyler in some way had to be the sort of mother figure. So my feeling about that was that Skyler learned to take care of things and deal with problems and just put her head down and get through things. She learned how to do that at a very young age. And that was sort of very, very important part of her character, and she learned that at a young age, dealing with whatever situation they had at home.”
Walter White’s cohort Jesse had parental issues as well. “Jesse was just in a constant search for some guidance in his life, and even though he maybe didn’t want to admit it, he was searching for maybe like a father figure in a way,” Aaron Paul said. “I think he found that in Walt because his parents kind of gave up on him years ago. So that comes with him wanting to kind of protect kids in a way. There’s episodes where we all know that he has this fondness for children. So I think he wants to protect those children because he just never really got that or at least he didn’t feel that he had that protection from his parents.”
Bryan Cranston concluded the session with a hilarious fake backstory for Walter White. “The turning point for Walter White was July 4, 1978, Coney Island, New York when he actually entered the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest and consumed 38 and a half hot dogs and was seriously considering going into the professional eating circuit as opposed to being a chemist,” Cranston deadpanned.
The final episodes of Breaking Bad begin airing August 11.