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Q&A: Bryan Cranston (Walt White) — Part II

In the second part of our two-part interview, Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston talks about kissing Anna Gunn (Skyler White) and the period in his life when he was a wanted man.

Q: What are some of your favorite Breaking Bad moments?

A: Making out with Anna Gunn. I tell my wife, ‘Honey, it’s just a job. I’m going to the office.’ Actually, I enjoy the classroom scenes, because it gives me an opportunity to enrich and solidify my character so audiences can see what was once a passion of mine. I’m a good teacher, and if anyone is prepared to listen, they might get as excited about chemistry as I once was.

Q: Those scenes also give the viewer a window into what the show is all about.

A: Yeah, that’s the brilliance of them. And you want to be able to do that without hitting people over the head with it. You don’t want to say, ‘This show is about…’ so you want to couch it in a related way. The lectures have a sense of relatability as to what you’re going to see. There are moments, like when he’s getting lost in talking about Chirality and all of a sudden, in trying to make them understand, it’s like left right, good bad — he catches himself, realizing, ‘Oh Christ. That’s me. I’m both good and bad.’

Q: Is it true you were once a wanted man in Florida?

A: Yeah. My brother and I were traveling around the country on motorcycles back in the ’70s, and we needed money so we stopped for the winter in Florida and got a little apartment and took jobs in a Hawaiian restaurant. And there was a cook there, Peter Wong, who was an unhappy, rotten guy. So all the waiters and waitresses and busboys, we would sit around before our shift and we would talk about ways we would kill Peter Wong — chop him up in his own Chow Mein, slice him up or put him in the deep fryer. Well, spring arrives and it’s time for us to go. So my brother and I take off to continue our motorcycle trip. And no sooner did we leave than Peter Wong went missing. They found him in the trunk of a car, bludgeoned to death. And he was the kind of guy who carried a thick wad of money in his pocket — I mean a really thick stash of cash. So during the police investigation they went to the restaurant, talked to all the waiters as a group, and then individually, and then asked if there was anyone who was no longer there. And of course they said, “the Cranston brothers” — and until the police resolved that he was led astray by a hooker, then robbed and killed, we were, as they say, persons of interest.

Q: So when Walt White is standing on the open road in his tightie-whities, holding up a gun, he actually knows what it feels like to be a wanted man.

A: To feel wanted. And you know what? To feel dangerous. Danger is cool. The thing about Walt is that he’s actually accepting of this condition, and the reason is that for the first time in 25 years he’s feeling again. And even fear is better than numbness. So he’s willing to accept it, and possibly encourage it. You get addicted to emotions. Our endorphins kick in and it’s like a high. On the low end you might love roller coasters. On the high end you might be a bank robber or something. He’s somewhere now in the middle of that right now.

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