‘Breaking Bad’: Bryan Cranston On How One of the Show’s Most Tragic Deaths Still Haunts Him

IndieWire | 9/22/2018 | Staff
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The Season 2 death of Jesse’s girlfriend Jane (Krysten Ritter), choking on her own vomit as Walter White watches, is one of the most memorable and devastating scenes ever shot for “Breaking Bad” — and filming it nearly broke Bryan Cranston.

Speaking as part of Tribeca TV’s Tribeca Talks series, Cranston revealed to the crowd and moderator David Edelstein that as an actor, there can be real emotional risk to performing some of the extremely heavy scenes he’s been tasked with over his career. “There are times when you’re acting and you get caught in a spiral of emotions. It’s like an eddy and you keep swirling and swirling,” he said.

Jane - Death - Example - Cranston - Version

And Jane’s death was just one such example. According to Cranston, the original version of the scene written by series creator Vince Gilligan was far darker than what was filmed — in the first draft, he said, “she starts to cough and she’s on her side, and Walt looks at her, and pushes her shoulder so she’s on her back — essentially killing her.”

The network and studio reaction to that twist, he added, was negative, because “they thought that would turn [Walt] too soon.” So Gilligan tweaked the scene so that instead of Walt pushing Jane, her own coughing flips her onto her back, and Walt does nothing.

Things - Jesse - Lives - Junkie - Anyway…

“One of the things that I wrote, aside from she’s going to kill Jesse and ruin our lives and she’s a junkie anyway… There were a significant amount of pros, and one of them is that she’s a young girl and she could be my daughter,” he said. And it was a thought that haunted him in the actual filming of the scene.

“Breaking Bad.”

Dialogue - Cranston - Scene - Pros - Cons

With no dialogue, Cranston performed the scene, his pros and cons list rushing...
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