This Sunday at 10 p.m., ‘Breaking Bad’s third season launches on AMC.
For the uninitiated, the series chronicles the life of Walter White, a mild mannered high school chemistry teacher who turns to cooking and selling meth to secure his family’s future after he is diagnosed with cancer.
Those of you who have been watching the Emmy award winning series know that it features some of television’s sharpest writing and finest acting.
The drama veers from the scary world of Mexican drug cartels to the at times more frightening dark comedy of suburban life. In preparation for the premiere, AMC put together a handy catch up reel.
*Spoiler Alert* This season Walter’s family life unravels when his wife Skyler learns about his double life. Walter is also haunted by the role he played in the plane crash in last season’s finale. I spoke with the cast about the third season at the Paley Fest event honoring the show.
Bryan Cranston (Walter)
What was it like to direct the season premiere?
Well, to me directing is like putting together a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle where you don’t have the picture on the box. I find myself walking around. I look like I’m in a daze but I’m actually thinking. When I’m directing, I have an ink pad in the shower that I write on. When I’m sleeping, I’m thinking. I work about 18 hours a day when I direct. I get about four hours of sleep. It’s so consuming, but there’s something great about it because you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
What scares Walter more: dying or living?
Living. He’s more afraid of living. In fact, he starts to explore this idea that, “There was a perfect time I could have died. I wish I had.” The anxiety is so heavy that sometimes it drives people to suicide.
It seems like Walter and Jesse are switching roles to a certain extent.
It’s designed that way. Vince Gilligan and his merry band of writers who brilliantly weave them out so that your sympathies go with Walt for a while and then they go with Jesse. That’s wonderful. Inherently this business, and any kind of entertainment is manipulative. But we don’t want to see the strings.
RJ Mitte (Walt Jr.)
How does Walt Jr. feel about his parents’ divorce?
It’s definitely hitting him hard. It’s going to affect him. Divorces are hard. It’s not an easy thing to go through for anybody.
Will the stress push Walt Jr. towards the dark side?
Possibly. I don’t know about that. I think we need to have one normal person on the show. Walt Jr. is probably the most normal person even with the disability.
Speaking of that, there has been some controversy over actors without physical challenges playing characters with disabilities, like on ‘Glee.’ What is your opinion?
I think everyone should have an equal chance. If you’re the right person for that role, you’re the right person for that role. But if you’re going to go in for a role and you don’t quite understand it, you shouldn’t be doing it. With Glee, the guy in the wheelchair, if he trained right and did his research and understands how someone who lives his life in a wheelchair would actually act, it’s fine. I say more power to him. The reason why we act is to be in different people’s shoes. I don’t see Bryan Cranston actually making real meth.
Walter’s drug dealer name is Heisenberg. What would Walt Jr.’s drug dealer name be?
He’s actually going by Flynn now. So I’m guessing Flynn. Or Heisenberg Junior. [Going by Flynn] was a decision he made because it’s completely the opposite of Walt Junior.
What’s the funniest thing that’s gone wrong when you were shooting a scene?
Me vomiting in the pool. That was one of the longest days of my life. They had this giant airvac and they would go, “We’re starting,” and I would drop to the ground. A couple times they had the power off and then they cranked it and it just shot out. I get home and guess what they have cooked for me: vegetable soup.
Dean Norris (Hank)
What is Hank’s arc going to be this season?
He’s got a really strong arc where they take him from a happy-go-lucky blowhard to to really examining his dark inner demons. I kind of have mixed feelings. I miss the old Hank. But it’s definitely a whole new Hank. As a human being, the character is in a much worse place.
I understand he’ll be struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
He’s sent back to El Paso with triggers the whole PTSD thing again. That’s the essence of his arc. Dealing with that while he’s trying to find Heisenberg.
You guest star on a lot of other shows. What was it like working on ‘Medium?’ Do you have any other shows coming up?
I just did ‘Lie To Me’ and they just hired me for ‘Criminal Minds.’ I’m sure I’ll do three of four more before the TV season is over. I love doing guest star roles. They’re usually with people I’ve worked with before. They give me a nice little juicy role and it’s usually something different then Hank so it’s fun to keep my chops up. On ‘Lie To Me’ they suspect me of kidnapping.
Bryan Cranston directed the season premiere. What was it like being bossed around by your co-star?
It’s great. Bryan’s a super pro who adds a lot of stuff. He directs all the time whether he’s an actual director or not.
Would you like to direct an episode?
No. It’s too much work.
Aaron Paul (Jesse)
How is the death of Jane going to impact Jesse?
It’s so sad. It really is affecting him. He’s blaming himself. It’s his fault. This season starts with him still in rehab. He wants to make a true effort to stay clean and sober, but he’s constantly longing for her. This next season is really about him dealing with that situation.
Do you think Walt and Jesse have switched roles in terms of who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?
That’s what’s so interesting. It’s a season of change with everybody involved.
What has been your favorite scene?
My favorite scene in terms of where the characters are going, I loved the scenes at the end of last season where Walt and Jesse go to the crack house, the fatherly tone and the friendship.
Anna Gunn (Skyler)
How does Skyler change once she finds out Walt is a drug dealer?
This is a really different season for her because she kind of goes from being a housewife taking care of everybody else to stepping forward and looking at herself as more of an individual. She’s really place in an impossible position. A lot of this happens right off the bat. The rest of the season is spent wondering what she’s going to do, what decision she’s going to make.
It looks like Skyler gets a new wardrobe this season.
We talked about it a lot. It’s about her saying “I’m a person. I’m a woman. And I want to be seen.” We did a lot with her look. We took her from a person who wore this big, oversized things because she was pregnant forever to a person who shows her shape. It’s a much more powerful look for her.
Congratulations on your Saturn award nomination. I’ll admit I was surprised ‘Breaking Bad’ was eligible. Do you think of the show as sci-fi, fantasy or horror?
I don’t know. I guess there are horrific things and fantastical things about it. I’m not quite sure how we fit into that exactly, but we go all over the map.
Walter’s alter ego’s name is Heisenberg. What would Skyler’s be?
Amazonia. Tall girls have to say that.
‘BREAKING BAD’ PREMIERES SUNDAY MARCH 21 AT 10 PM ON AMC