Actor Bryan Cranston knew he was Walter White the moment he read the pilot script of the hit TV series Breaking Bad nearly 10 years ago.
But when creator Vince Gilligan told him that show’s will soon the over the show’s forthcoming seasons the planned arc was to morph Walter White into a menacing drug dealer, Cranston was shocked.
‘The script was oh-my-God superb, the best hour-long drama I ever read,’ Cranston writes in his memoir, A Life in Parts, published by Simon and Schuster last week.
‘I began dreaming about this character, this Walter White. I was waking up in the middle of the night with him on my mind.’
‘That day I saw Jane die I went to a place I’d never been,’ Branston writes. ‘I’d put everything into that scene. All the things I was and all the things I might have been: all the side roads and the missteps. All the stuttering successes and the losses I thought might sink me. I was murderous and I was capable of great love. I was a victim, moored by my circumstances, and I was the danger. I was Walter White. I was never more myself.’
Cranston ultimately changed. He knew he could act as the killer, drawing upon a past wild sexual affair he fell into with a woman, identified as Ava, who he first met at an audition for a TV show in Los Angeles in the early 1980s.
It all started after he met Ava. Cranston explains that he couldn’t get her out of his head until he envisioned himself killing her by repeatedly bashing her head against a wall. Though it was all in his mind, the killing seemed so real to him.
Ava had asked him out when the first met, and he found her aggression attractive. They met at her apartment on Friday evening and he didn’t leave until Monday afternoon.
‘I’ve never been into drugs – I do drink now and then, nothing out of hand – but that weekend with Ava felt like what I imagine a binge or bender must feel like. I lost track of time,’ Cranston writes. She was crazy, he says, but ‘crazy creates great sex’.
It ended up being a destructive relationship as she would not move on. Ava would start stalking him across the country leaving threatening voicemails and following Cranston where ever he went. ‘No, we’re not breaking up,’ she responded, Cranston explained.
Ultimately, Cranston had a dream of killing Ava.
‘I adjusted my grip on her body to hold her shoulder firmly with my left hand, and her hair at the back of her head with my right hand. Her screaming continued but I was no longer hearing words, just a cacophony of high-pitched sound. I walked her over to the lone brick wall in the apartment. ‘I slammed her head against the brick wall. Months and months of fury rippled throughout me and gave me an almost superhuman strength. I slammed her head against the wall with a metronomic consistency. Clumps of hair and bits of skin and brain matter stuck to the brick. Blood formed on the wall and then began dribbling to the floor.’
While it was all a dream, Cranston explained that he felt for the first time that he could kill someone. He explains he used that experience to create the character of Walter White.
In addition, Cranston also revealed that while he was given the opportunity to audition for the role of Walter White, studio executives considered other actors, Christian Slater, Paul McCrane, Adam Godley, John Carroll Lynch, Henry Thomas, Matthew Broderick and Steve Zahn, Cranston was disturbed.
He felt so upset that the studio wanted to pass on him, that he spread a rumor saying another show picked him up. It would take five days before Cranston received the call saying he would play Walter White.
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