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The Los Angeles Times Checks in With Breaking Bad

With the Emmys still over a month away, the Los Angeles Times is finding new ways to talk about one of its favorite AMC dramas and check in with the cast and crew.

The Times‘s Josh Gajewski sat down with creator Vince Gilligan and his longtime friend Tom Schnauz, who joined Breaking Bad‘s writing staff for the third season. Schnauz related to the Times how he and Gilligan conceived of the show’s premise after reading about a mobile meth lab and joking about their career prospects if writing didn’t pan out. “He called me back a week later and said, ‘Remember that idea? Mind if I use that?'” Schnauz recalls. “I said, ‘Of course.’ I mean, I’d never think to write a story, let alone a whole TV series around the idea of a mobile meth lab. But lo and behold.”

Gajewski goes on to describe Gilligan’s brainstorming style in the writers’ room: “The key phrase is ‘What if . . . ,’ the key ingredient is caffeine and the key goal is to surprise. The talk always revolves around how a character might be expected to react and then, how that expectation might be turned on its head.”

Speaking of characters — or at least, the guys who play them — the Times also sat down with Bryan Cranston to talk about the Emmy-winning actor’s overly-expressive face. “I’ve been teased by my family all my life,” Cranston tells Gajewski about his elastic features. “I can open up a jar of pickles and make the most excruciating face. . . . I don’t even know I’m doing it.” But the actor does differentiate between his face and Walt’s: “There’s one face that seems to be Walt’s own, that I don’t recognize in my life,” Cranston explains. “His mouth curls down during some bewildered moments of exasperation or desperation. Perhaps it’s because Walt walks the tightrope of despair and survival.”

Finally, the Times asked first-time Emmy nominee Aaron Paul about his expectations for the big night. “How do I breathe during this experience?” the actor asked, admitting to feeling slightly intimidated by the event. “How do I form sentences on the red carpet?” Paul goes on to praise his fellow supporting-actor nominees, saying that if he can’t win the statue, he hopes it will go to Lost‘s Michael Emerson, “because I’m such a huge fan of him as a human being. It was an honor to meet him over a year ago. And Lost is also my favorite show of all time, so definitely Michael.”

As for Bryan, if he can’t win, he says his vote goes to Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm, “because AMC pays me mightily. No, he does a marvelous job. My character is more fun to play than Jon’s because it’s more open. I’m out there, and the range of emotions is all over the place. A character like Jon’s is more difficult because it’s more contained. The same goes for [In Treatment‘s] Gabriel Byrne.”

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