(This post contains spoiler for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which Netflix released last week.)
From El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie it was announced, an application was at the forefront of each breaking Bad fan imagination: will Bryan Cranston resume his role as Walter White?
Walt dies at the end of breaking Bad, is El Camino it takes place mainly in the immediate aftermath of the series finale, as Aaron Paul's Jesse Pinkman tries to get out of Albuquerque before being captured or killed. But breaking Bad and his spinoff, Better to call Saul, they are both known for playing with time, so it was not impossible to consider that Walt could appear in a flashback, in a dream or in some other method.
And surely, after the film's plot has largely ended, the story recoils in a scene set during the "4 Days Out" events of the second season and there are Walt and Jesse walking side by side along the corridor of a hotel, and then chat at breakfast.
Here, the four-time winner of Emmy talks about why he wanted to come back, how his cameo was kept secret and how it was to play Walt after so many years.
How did you feel when Vince Gilligan told you he wanted me to play Walt again?
It was wonderful. I was really grateful that he thought I was part of this. At the same time, I wondered, "How the hell will it work?" I figured it could only be retrospective, in flashback, and I said "OK, whatever I should do". And basically, that's all. If Vince Gilligan called me and said, "I need you to wash my car," I would say, "What about this Saturday?" I would do anything for him, because I know he is so devoted to the integrity of the characters. He wouldn't do it if he didn't have a place in the story.
Did you have any breaks to return to this role?
I would say yes, if it came from me and said: "Let's do the series again. Walter White is not dead. Let's just say this, and then we'll see if we can get another two or three years out of it," that's when I should say: " I don't think we should. " What he wrote for the conclusion of the series is, for me, perfect. So I think it would be a problem if he wanted to. But I know it's not. This (film) was created strictly from the open question about what happened to Jesse. We know it escaped the complex, but what happened? Many people were asking me about it and I would have said, "I don't know. What do you think happened? Do you think he was captured?" There was enough interest to think that Vince realized he was such a beloved character beautifully by Aaron Paul, that the story was not complete and he wanted to complete it. So he did. And I think it's wonderful.
Did it take you long to get back to the character after six years away?
Really not. There are so many talismans that I used every day during filming: his glasses, his shirt, the Wallabees. I immediately returned to that character. Being in Albuquerque, being very close to the same crew, having Aaron there, Vince and (producer) Melissa Bernstein, I changed a little, because it's like, "Oh my God, six years, and we're back!" a little disturbing. In a good way.
You're not just revisiting a character you haven't played for years, but a first version of that character that's very different from the last time you played it. You returned to review "4 Days Out", the episode of the second season that El Camino get back to?
I did it. I haven't seen him since he was on the air, so I wanted to go back and have an idea of my relationship with Jesse Pinkman at that time, of what we had been through. Just to have a clear head on how I felt at that moment, and the level of despair and anxiety with which the character was involved. It was literally 10 years ago that I last saw that episode, so it was extremely useful.
You didn't have time to shave your head at it, so you had to wear a bald cap. Was it weird to play Walter White in those conditions?
No. As a matter of fact, when we put the bald cap and glued on the hair on the face, it was like "Wow". I look in the mirror and it is so useful as an actor to say: "Here's what I'm presenting." This aspect represented me so much then, and it only transports you at that moment and your ability to enter that character.
Vince said that this seemed more like a closure than when you and Aaron filmed your last scene in the series, because he was so tired at the end of that season's production. How did you feel about shooting this cameo compared to the last time you and Aaron were in the camper together?
This was a meeting for me. Actually we shot the last scenes of the show the last day, which I remember very well: April 3, 2013, more than six years ago. You have a rush of emotions. Not only is your character saying goodbye in the plot, but personally, I'm saying goodbye to these actors and this troupe I've become so intimately involved with. Knowing that the history of work in this sector is made of separation, you get such deep emotional depth with the people you work with. You're telling a story and when it ends, you go away. It's almost like a high school diploma, where you look at people and ask yourself, "I don't know if and when I'll see them again." Even if you're happy to come to a good conclusion, you're also a little sad, because you're saying goodbye.
This time, Aaron is still a friend, we have put together the mezcal business, we celebrate birthdays and other things together. He is a dear friend. And Vince is also a dear friend, and many other people I have regained consciousness with, we exchange e-mails and see each other whenever possible. So the farewell of 2013 had time to settle down and (to allow) the development of the new relationship. And that's what we have, a new relationship that is great. Much of the reason why Aaron and I started the mezcal business is because we missed each other every day. We knew that we probably won't have the chance to work together again for a while, except El Camino.
The production has done everything to keep your presence secret. What did you have to do as part of that?
First of all, keep your mouth shut. Literally, I had two days off and we shot it this year, the first Monday and Tuesday of January, when my show (Network on Broadway) went from eight shows a week, with only one free day, Monday, seven days, and Monday and Tuesday free. We looked at months and months before and we said: "This is my fixed date". So I finished my matinee at 5pm Sunday night and was taken away to Teterboro (Airport, New Jersey), private jet, salt, landed in Albuquerque with my wife, our transport captain Dennis Milliken picked me up No one saw me at the airport. I went directly from the plane to the car in an Airbnb home that assured me, almost like a witness protection situation. And I stayed there. I didn't go out for two days. But I pushed Aaron to open his house for a party on Monday night, which was a nice evening together. It was Monday, after touring the restaurant scene, and then Tuesday, I had only a little work to do in a hotel corridor, and it was all, I was back on a plane. No one saw me. In fact, going from my locker room to make-up and make-up car, I was cloaked. I mean completely cloaked. I looked like someone from The Handmaid & # 39; s Tale. I couldn't even see myself! It was all very private. And I'm happy. I think it's nice to be a surprise for fans of breaking Bad.
Vince says the scene in the movie where Jesse listens to the radio report on Walt and Lydia's death is there mainly because people ask him again if Walt is dead. Do you understand it too?
Constantly. I took so much that I would even tease them. My answer has always been: "Yes, he died, he died, he died". And I would More questions about it, and then I thought, "Well, this doesn't seem to go away." So (then if) they would have said: "Well, Walt is dead", I would say, "Is it true?" (laughs) and leave it there. And they would have gone mad: "Oh my God, what are you saying?!?" So he stimulated more conversations. It's really nice that we got into the skin of the fans and we became part of the zeitgeist of storytelling in this sense. And I'm so extremely proud of it breaking Badand what it represented for me both from the point of view of the artist and as a person. It changed my life. And I am forever grateful. It will be the opening line of my obituary and I am absolutely proud to have done so.
From the last time you played Walt, Vince and Peter Gould went and did Better to call Sauland now Vince has made this film. How did you feel about seeing the world you once were the center of going largely without you?
I love it. I look at this business in the same way (as I did with athletes) when I was in my youth. I was happy to see the athletes retire before it became embarrassing. When they stayed too long, I understood why, but their abilities diminished, their physicality diminished and it was sad. Willie Mays, returning to the Mets, it was like "Oh, no no no! Do not do it! "When Peyton Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl, I was cheering, because now our impression of Peyton Manning is of this champion. Could he have gone another year? Yes, absolutely. But you know what? This is a nice ending "Don't try to put two cherries on top of an ice cream cup. Then look at it that way. We had the most perfect beginning and end of the story of breaking Bad. And we retired and I was happy to retire. I don't miss the character, because I have to play him so well, so deeply, for six years. And the ending was enormously satisfying for me personally and professionally. look at Better to call Saul and I smile when I see familiar faces and familiar places. But I don't have an attachment to "Oh, I wish I could be in this! I'd like to do it!" With that said, I would definitely consider doing this if asked, if it was time for Walter White to make his appearance. "I could see it happen for fun, to help tell their story. It's not my story anymore. It would be almost like coming back as a coach." Yes, I will help you in any way I can. What do you want me to do? "And then I do my things, and," See you! "