If fate would have had it, Bryan Cranston might not have been the one striking us with his brilliant performance on ‘Breaking Bad’ as Walter White. As it turns out, it was Vince Gilligan who saw Walter White in Cranston and we can’t be more grateful. Keep reading to find out more!
Bryan Cranston‘s unforgettable performance as Walter White on ‘Breaking Bad‘ could have easily gone out of his hands had it not been for show-runner Vince Gilligan. The network heads had offered their last verdict on not wanting Cranston as chemistry teacher turned meth manufacturer, but Gilligan convinced them otherwise. Apparently, Gilligan found Cranston to be a perfect fit for the role of Walter White just by looking at his past projects.
- Network executives doubted having Bryan Cranston as Water White
- ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ could have gotten in the way
- Cranston impressed Gilligan with his performance on ‘The X-Files’
Network executives doubted having Bryan Cranston as Water White
The reason why ‘Breaking Bad’ is a genius of a show is that it masters storytelling and performance in a manner that ties so well together over just five seasons. Although slow and mostly character-driven, ‘Breaking Bad’ kept the viewers at the edge of their seats. What was the one and the only things most central to the show was the narrative of Walter White’s transformation from a timid weak man to a hardy evil drug-lord. Bryan Cranston’s performance on ‘Breaking Bad’ single-handedly shouldered the show alone. However, reports suggest that the network executives were not entirely sure about casting Cranston in the role of Walter White initially.
In fact, rumour has it that other actors were considered for the role as well. Casting agents considered a few too many actors in the lead role as Walter White before Cranston landed the role of his lifetime. One of the actors who was considered to play Walter White was Matthew Broderick who turned the role down. Word around the town is that even John Cusack was offered the part, although the actor never confirmed anything as such. In an interview with “Variety”, Cusack said,
“No, I never was, and it was one of those things where I heard it so many times I started to think maybe it was true. And I ran into the creator of ‘Breaking Bad’ [Vince Gilligan], and I said, ‘Am I crazy or did you offer me Walter White? He’s like, ‘No’”
‘Malcolm in the Middle’ could have gotten in the way
It seems like one of his past projects, ‘Malcolm in the Middle’, could have been why network executives were sceptical about having Bryan Cranston played Walter White on ‘Breaking Bad’. This was mostly because Cranston’s role on ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ demanded him playing Hal, a goofy dad and family man. The role was comedic and cast a doubt in the minds of the ‘Breaking Bad’ folks on whether the actor would be able to handle a role as serious as Walter White. Not just that, ‘Breaking Bad’ demanded a stark change in the personality of Walter White where the character turns into a diabolical and dangerous drug manufacturer from a weakling of a regular family man fighting cancer. At once, Walter White had to be both sympathetic and repugnant.
That was where the network executives grew majorly sceptical. One of the former executives remembered being doubtful when Vince Gilligan offered the name of Bryan Cranston for Walter White on ‘Breaking Bad’. He told “The Hollywood Reporter”,
“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?”
Cranston impressed Gilligan with his performance on ‘The X-Files’
What really landed Bryan Cranston his role on ‘Breaking Bad’ was his performance on ‘The X-Files’. While it was hard for the casting directors to fathom why Gilligan pressed on Cranston for the role, one that was polar different from what he was known for in ‘Malcolm in the Middle’, Gilligan believed Cranston would be perfect after seeing his performance on ‘The X-Files’. In order to convince the network executives to go for Cranston, Gilligan even showed them ‘the X-Files’ episode in Bryan Cranston played a man facing terminal illness, just like Walter White from ‘Breaking Bad’. Somehow, Cranston’s incredible talent combined with Gilligan’s stubbornness worked like a charm, landing the actor in the role.
Speaking of Bryan Cranston and his acting prowess on ‘Breaking Bad’, Vince Gilligan told “The New York Times”,
“We had this villain, and we needed the audience to feel bad for him when he died. Bryan alone was the only actor who could do that, who could pull off that trick. And it is a trick. I have no idea how he does it”
Who do you think could have played Walter White if not Bryan Cranston? Let us know in the comments below!