As Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston recently revealed, being an actor comes with some inherent trauma. And he learned that the hard way while filming one of his hit series’ most iconic scenes.
While the pop-culture phenomenon brought many memorable moments to the small screen, the scene where his character, Walter White, let Jesse Pinkman’s girlfriend, Jane Margolis (played by Kristen Ritter), choke to death had a majorly emotional impact on him.
Cranston met with Kelly Clarkson recently to discuss his new project, Your Honor, which explores a father’s devotion to his son and the possible loss of that child. And as Clarkson noted, playing a parent who loses an on-screen child must trigger real-life fear and devastating pain because great actors live in the reality of the scenes. Cranston shared that Jane’s death scene made him suffer those feelings even though she wasn’t his Breaking Bad child.
“I did a scene on Breaking Bad where I was watching a woman die in the second season,” he said. “And [despite] being prepared for that, all of a sudden, her face left and the face of my real daughter showed up, and I was watching my real daughter die.”
The ‘Breaking Bad’ Death Scene Still Chokes Up Bryan Cranston Today
Bryan Cranston has one daughter, actress Taylor Dearden. She’s played recurring characters for shows such as 101 Ways to Get Rejected and American Vandal. And her very first project was in a Season 3 Breaking Bad installment where she had a cameo as an unnamed sad-faced girl.
“It choked me. I’m even getting a little choked up now,” he said as he fought back tears. “For about two or three seconds, I saw my daughter’s face and I [gasps], it choked me up, and that went away and Krysten Ritter’s face came back, and there she was.”
In the scene, Walter storms into Jesse’s house in the middle of the night trying to wake him up. But he discovers that his partner in crime is in a drug-induced slumber next to Jane.
While shaking Jesse and trying to get him to come to, he inadvertently knocks Jane, who had been sleeping on her side, onto her back. And she starts asperating on vomit. Walter initially runs to her side to help, but he pulls back and watches her die.
“It was like, ‘Oh my god.'” he said of the filming. “It is an emotional risk that actors go through. We have to put ourselves in a position of vulnerability for that to possibly happen because you’re willing to go into the unknown.”