Bryan Cranston on Walter White’s future in ‘Breaking Bad’ final season

Bryan Cranston returns for the final eight episodes of "Breaking Bad," which kick off on Sunday. Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Bryan Cranston returns for the final eight episodes of “Breaking Bad,” which kick off on Sunday.
Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

It might have been the most epic bathroom break in television history.

If you’re not caught up on “Breaking Bad,” you might want to stop reading here. But if you are caught up, you know that last season’s cliffhanging finale ended with DEA agent Hank Schrader picking up some very special reading material while on the toilet — evidence to incriminate his brother-in-law, Walter White, for orchestrating the drug ring Schrader has had his eyes on since the first season.

While you might have been waiting with bated breath to find out what happens when Hank comes out of that bathroom, Bryan Cranston tells Metro he wasn’t.

“I didn’t ask for the whole year,” says Cranston, who has played the series’ lead Walter White since 2008.

He says he only got the script about two weeks before the episode began shooting. “I don’t need to have a lot of information in my head.”

Fans won’t have to wait much longer to discover what happens next, as the series returns for its final eight episodes beginning Sunday. Cranston himself was mum about the series finale when we spoke to him last month. But he did share plenty of insight into a series he calls a “cautionary tale,” about a man whose hunger for power just couldn’t be satiated.

So, how are you feeling these days — happy, excited, sad, nervous?

Go on, you’re hitting them all. Yeah, you know, we’re proud that we were able to get the support from Sony and AMC to be able to write the conclusion that [creator Vince Gilligan] wanted, in the amount of episodes that he felt was appropriate. He was able to do these last eight episodes without feeling like he was diluting the storyline or compressing it so much. He felt it flowed just right, so we’re very happy with that.

How many people know the ending right now?

Maybe about 20. It’s gonna go up to about 200. … There are several things that happen, as you might guess, in the last eight — many twists and turns that you will gasp at.

It feels like it can’t end well for Walt.

I don’t know if it ends badly or not. You’re fishing, aren’t you?

All right, all right. But last Walt was seen, he was out of the business and about to get his life back on track. That must be wishful thinking.

Yeah, I mean, it is “Breaking Bad,” so what happens in these last eight is what’s happened in the previous 54 episodes, or whatever the case is — that we go through unapologetically. [We] tell our stories as honestly as we can and present it to fans. And it’s been overwhelming, from critics and audiences alike, that it’s resonating.

Yeah, why do you think that is? People from all walks of life really connect to this show.

Well, I think because it’s honest. We’re exploring sociopolitical relationships. Some people were gleaning that, “Oh, this is a condemnation of the medical care system in the United States, because here’s a man who is a teacher, and a well educated man, and he cannot provide for his family.” … We are telling this story in that manner that is resonating with people because it’s not about drug manufacturing or drug usage; this story is about decisions that people make and the slippery slope that [can] happen.

Which Walt is harder for you to tap into: cancer-patient family man or merciless Heisenberg?

Neither, to be honest with you. … I know that there’s less than savory characteristics in my being and I have to let that out. … Whether it’s anger or jealously or resentment or whatever negative components in their personality, you have to admit it. … And then you say, well, let’s turn the knob and allow that to become the worst case scenario.

There’s a lot of backlash on the show against Skyler. Will she be redeemed, in a sense, in these final eight episodes?

You know, to me, when I look objectively, I’ve always liked Skyler, because the reason she had [issues] with Walt was because Walt was lying to her. She wanted to protect her family. … Fans were rooting for him and … she represented an obstacle for his success. … It really puts an ambiguity in the hearts and souls of the audience. [They’re] going, “Wait a minute, what am I rooting for? Why am I rooting for this man?” It fills them with anxiety. There’s drama in the show as well as in the audience. It’s pretty amazing.

You did some directing in this final season. Does that mean you had any say into Walt’s trajectory?

No. What happens in an ongoing series is that the person created the show and develops the sensibility with the actors and then the actors perform it. When that person then sees what the actors have done and the way they approach a certain problem or issue or how they respond to different people, it can influence how they write that character again. So basically it goes back and forth. Vince Gilligan wrote it, I interpret it, I perform it, he sees what I perform, makes some adjustments to what he writes, and then writes closer to what I’m doing or pushes me in an area that he wants me to go in. We work off each other.

Are you happy with Walt’s ending?

I’m very pleased. You know, there was apprehension of reading the last episode because once you read the last episode, there’s no more episodes to read — it’s just like, whoa, I don’t want it to end. But I can honestly say that fans of our show will be very pleased, very satisfied with the outcome. It’s very “Breaking Bad” — unapologetic and very appropriate. We cover it all. I can tell you this: There’s not going to be a sense of, “Wait a minute, what?” That’s not going to be the case with “Breaking Bad.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

How to donate during the blood drive at…

The Metro-North Railroad and New York Blood Center are hosting a blood drive at Grand Central Terminal Thursday.

Local

Bloomberg launches $50 million anti-gun violence effort

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million on a grassroots anti-gun violence network to challenge the National Rifle Association.

Local

East Village woman fights off rape attempt from…

An East Village woman fought off an attempted rapist that she woke to find standing on her bed over the weekend, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

Movies

Interview: Johnny Depp says he looks like himself,…

Johnny Depp talks about his new sci-fi thriller "Transcendence," not wearing gaudy makeup and wigs for a change and how he's a bit of a Luddite.

Movies

Review: 'Heaven is for Real' tries to be…

The mega-bestseller "Heaven is for Real" becomes a movie that tries to portray wrestling with faith — or at least it tries to try.

Movies

Slideshow: Check out Johnny Depp looking weird through…

Johnny Depp says he looks like himself in "Transcendence." He usually doesn't. Here's a slideshow of his weirder faces.

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

NHL

Islanders back to rebuilding mode after disappointing season

One season after qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2006-07, the Islanders finished 2013-14 with a 34-37-11 record.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

Career

How to get a job at a startup:…

We talked to Tarek Pertew, one of the co-founders behind Uncubed, about how to get your dream job at a startup.

Parenting

The 'smartest' summer camps across the country

See a list of summer camps across the country that emphasis learning, while still being fun.

Home

3 easy DIY updates for your home

While you're deep into spring cleaning, why not make a few tweaks to give your home a fresh decorative twist? Don't worry, we're not talking…

Food

Martha Stewart's tips for a perfect Easter

Even if your dinner isn't as perfect as hers, you can use her advice.