After the live chat on Sunday, March 9, Bryan Cranston stuck around to answer more of your Breaking Bad questions. SPOILER ALERT: Some questions refer to later parts of the season.
Kathy55: Happy belated birthday!
Bryan: Thank you Kathy55. Yeah I just had a birthday on Friday [March 7]. Wasn’t a big birthday, just went with my family up the coast and spent the weekend there. We just got back to Los Angeles, so I’m ready for my next job. No turkey bacon, thank God.
Moviegirl365: I love the fact they treat Walt’s son normally even though he has cerebral palsy! Having the disease myself, that is awesome! Thanks to the writers and Bryan!
Bryan: I think that’s really important. The actor who plays my son, RJ Mitte, has terrific instincts, great presence, he’s a nice kid and he happens to have CP in real life. And we treat him on the set like we would any other actor. We don’t give him special treatment, we give him the respect that we would give anybody. And that carries on into how the characters treat him on the show — not with kid gloves, but with the expectation on him like any other teenage son: chores, homework, etc. And that was Vince Gilligan’s idea and it’s great.
Springsgal: Meth is at the root of so many problems and crimes in all parts of the US. What is the message of this show?
Bryan: First I want to say that I agree with your assessment of this drug. It is vicious and greatly detrimental to society. It’s horrible. It is a fact that it’s a part of our society, a scourge to be sure, and so it’s not as if we are introducing a new drug into the consciousness of America. It’s here. Now, what’s to be done of that? What we’re doing is we’re dealing with it. If you watch the show, from my standpoint, it does not glorify meth in any way. It’s not about drugs, it’s a man’s journey. It’s a good man who makes bad decisions, and I think many people can relate to that. We hope to get an audience to understand and feel compassion for his situation. We’re not asking audiences to condone his actions, and certainly there are repercussions for what he’s doing and as the show progresses, that will come home and hit strongly. He will experience first-hand the effects of his actions. From an objective viewpoint meth is such a dangerous drug it quite frankly raises the stakes, whereas the show Weeds, which I like, deals with a softer drug to many people, and it’s not anything like meth. Yes, we are in a more dangerous ballpark, and we will show the full range of the effects of dealing with this drug.
Jeff3: Why is the first season so short?
Bryan: The writers’ strike had something to do with that. It cut us short by a few episodes. The episode that aired tonight [Sunday, March 9] was never intended to be a finale. It caught everybody by surprise, we thought the guild would wait until the actors’ contract was up in mid-June. But that’s not the way it worked out. So we, as well as all the other shows, got cut short. So we just had to make do with the seven episodes.
McGillicuddy: What was giving the intervention speech like, especially having to do so many takes?
Bryan: That was a great scene. It’s very rare in television that you get a ten minute scene. The truth is that our job is a craft, and it’s our job to be there for our fellow actors. So it just so happened that during that scene I wasn’t shot first — the camera wasn’t pointing in my direction. I was last I think. But knowing that Anna and Betsy and RJ and Dean are on camera, you want to give these actors your best so that they have their best performances, and that’s frankly just the way I was taught — to not phone it in when you’re off camera. If your side is extremely emotional, then there is some merit to saving it, but in those situations, if I had a very heavy scene, I would ask if it would be alright if I could shoot my side first, because it’s going to take it out of me. Nobody’s objectionable to that. We want to do the best work we can possibly do. At the end of the day, when I retire from this business, I don’t want to have any regrets. I want to look back and say I’m very proud of Malcolm, I’m very proud of Breaking Bad, and that’s all we have is to go out on your own terms. So you owe it to your fellow actors to always do the best you can. Because if you don’t you’ll be exposed, and I have too much respect for the business and my position in it to just go half way. I don’t know how to do that, I want to go all the way, and then I want to rest. What’s interesting about that speech is I don’t know what it was like. As actors if you’re really listening and responding, you’re living in that moment at that time, and you live through it and it leaves you. In many cases an actor needs to watch the scene and quite frankly when I do theater work, one of my guides to a night’s performance was if I just felt that I was present. If I recall a specific time or movement, like a man in the fourth row coughing, if you’re really noticing those things, for that brief period of time, you’re out of the character and you’re recognizing things that are external. I don’t really remember specifics about that scene.
Tom: Do you actually see all of the responses from the viewers, or are there too many to view personally? I would like to believe that your answers to these questions are yours, and not someone else’s.
Bryan: Yes Tom, it is actually me responding to these questions.