‘Better Call Saul’: How a Ski Mask Changed Everything for Bryan Cranston’s Return as Walter White

by Alex Falls

Bryan Cranston made his long-awaited return as Walter White in the Breaking Bad spinoff show Better Call Saul. The prequel/sequel series’s most recent episode was appropriately titled “Breaking Bad” and longtime viewers were treated flashback sequence where we got to learn more about how everyone’s favorite crooked lawyer teamed up with Albuquerque’s most notorious meth cooks.

The last time we saw Cranston as Walter White was in the film El Camino on Netflix, which followed Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pickman as he escaped New Mexico in the immediate aftermath of the series. In that appearance, Cranston had to wear a less than convincing bald cap to recreate the character’s trademark look.

Better Call Saul wanted to find a way around this limitation. Cranston is a busy actor these days, and he can’t be expected to shave his head for a relatively short appearance. But luckily, the show found a creative solution around the problem.

The flashback sequence revolved around a moment where White and Pickman kidnap Saul Goodman and bring him to the desert to intimidate him. During the tense sequence, White and Pickman wear ski masks. When it came time to recreate this scene for their return on Better Call Saul, the creators used that mask to their advantage.

Instead of using a bald cap, Cranston could just roll the mask up and cover his hair. Giving the impression of a bald look without all the effort of making him look bald.

Better Call Saul Recreates Breaking Bad

Fans raved about the reappearance of Cranston and Paul. They eased back into their roles as if no time had passed. But shooting the scene was logistically difficult. It had to be shot months before the rest of the season went in front of cameras.

Tom Schnauz wrote the sequence. He spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the big episode and said working around the schedules of Cranston and Paul was “very complicated.”

“They are two very busy actors involved with other shows, and they had facial hair issues to deal with. Aaron had to have a beard or something for whatever he was shooting coming up,” Schnauz said. “So we had a very small window, and I had to write the scene way ahead of the actual script. And we shot it in April of 2021 while Vince [Gilligan] was shooting episode two of [season six]. So Vince took a break in his schedule, and we knocked off the scene in a day and a half.”

Even after years since the original scene was shot, Schnauz said getting back to the perfectly recreated set brought everyone right back to where it all started.

“It did feel like old times,” Schnauz said. “We slipped right back into it. It was just like, ‘Boy, we’re back in the world of Breaking Bad.’ And these guys were ready and willing. It was just a lot of fun.”