‘Breaking Bad’: Bryan Cranston Wants Fans to Forget He Played Walter White
Starring on a hit television show like Breaking Bad has its pros and cons. On one hand, it can bring actors tons of accolades, fame, and money. But it may also hinder their future career prospects the more fans associate them with that character.
That’s precisely what happened to the series star Bryan Cranston (Walter White). He wasn’t the only person considered for the role, but now after five near-perfect seasons, it’s impossible to picture anyone else portraying Walt becoming Heisenberg.
Unfortunately, the role made it difficult for Cranston to get work later. And now in 2020, he’s ready for everyone to forget about his award-winning role in Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston almost didn’t get cast as Walter White
Typecasting almost cost Cranston his career-defining role as Heisenberg. Though Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan knew the actor’s dramatic skills were excellent from working with him on The X-Files, most people thought of him as the goofy dad Hal from Malcolm in the Middle.
Cranston played a believable Hal Wilkerson, which was great, but it made it harder for him to score the lead role in AMC’s new drama. “We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in Malcolm in the Middle. We were like, ‘Really? Isn’t there anybody else?’” one former AMC exec told The Hollywood Reporter of casting him.
Luckily, they listened to Gilligan and gave Cranston a chance. He went on to nail the part of Walter White.
He took a break from acting after ‘Breaking Bad’
Knowing the popularity of Breaking Bad and the lasting impact, Cranston took an intentional break following the conclusion of the series. While speaking with Entertainment Weekly, the actor explained his rationale for his hiatus.
“Once I knew Breaking Bad was ending, I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll give it three years before I show up on television again.’ And that’s what I did. I felt like I needed a break from the character, and I think fans needed a break from the character in order to accept me as whoever I was going to become next.”
But it’s not like Cranston was just sitting at home. He tried different kinds of work before coming back to TV. “I went and did Broadway and did a play in London and just got on a different medium to be able to express myself,” the Seinfeld alum explained.
Bryan Cranston is ready to move past ‘Breaking Bad’ into a new role
In late 2020, Cranston made his return to dramatic television with the lead role in Showtime’s Your Honor, his first major part since portraying Walter White. The limited series portrays a father who must decide whether to protect his son or follow the law following a hit-and-run incident.
Cranston explained to EW that there are similarities and differences between the new character Judge Michael Desiato and Walter White. But instead of comparing the two very different projects, he’s urging fans to let the new project speak for itself.
“Compared to Walter, [Desatio is] older and the situation was equally stressful for the guy but different. There is some similarities to it; if you draw a Venn diagram there would be some overlap where he is experiencing tremendous anxiety and stress and pressure and threats,” he said.
“But I think what ultimately got me was that the nature of goodness and when someone tries to become someone they’re not.”
Now if fans can see past his former role, the new drama has a real chance of success.