There may not be much in common with the wholesome classic TV show Little House on the Prairie and the modern crime drama Breaking Bad. However, the two shows share an unlikely connection through one actor who had roles in both series. Breaking Bad‘s Jonathan Banks once played a criminal on Little House on the Prairie.
Banks played the right-hand man of drug boss and Los Pollos Hermanos owner Gus Fring. His character Mike Ehrmantraut is a former crooked cop who also does favors for his friend and lawyer Saul Goodman. The two knew each other for years, which is also portrayed in the spinoff series Better Call Saul.
Yet back in 1980, Banks was in his early 30s and still making a name for himself in Hollywood. One of the actors’ first major roles was in Little House on the Prairie. According to IMDB, he starred in Season 6, Episode 16 titled “Darkness Is My Friend.” Banks plays one of three criminals in an intense episode of the classic show.
One stormy evening, Laura and Mary Ingalls are alone at the School For the Blind. Three prisoners that have escaped come across the school and take the two girls hostage. One of the criminals is wounded badly, so his fellow convicts demand the presence of a doctor.
The criminals send Laura to fetch Dr. Baker, but have warned her not to reveal their plan. Of course, Laura spills the beans to her father Charles (Michael Landon) who impersonates Dr. Baker. But when the real Dr. Baker arrives, his disguise is up, and Charles is forced to take action to disarm the criminals and save his daughters.
It may not have been a reoccurring role, but every actor including Jonathan Banks has to start somewhere.
‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Credits Michael Landon for Keeping Show’s Child Stars Out of Jail
One Little House on the Prairie actress opened up about working with the show’s star Michael Landon in an older interview. Alison Arngrim shared how much of an influence Landon had on herself and the other child stars on the popular show. In fact, his influence went beyond the set of Little House. Arngrim even says that Landon is responsible for keeping her and the other young actors out of trouble.
Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie, revealed many of her experiences working on the show. Of course, their conversation turned to her famous co-star Michael Landon. During one segment of the interview, she admitted that Landon was indeed a “control freak.” Yet she also claimed that the Hollywood A-lister’s no-nonsense tendencies on set helped the children on the TV show later in life.
“This is why none of the kids from Little House are nuts. I mean, well maybe slightly nuts, but none of us are in jail,” Arngrim joked. “Because there was discipline on that set. That set, we were there to work. There’s a lot of kid actors who are on shows that didn’t go to school, they were goofing off… Or worse, they were treated like a trained animal act. They were treated as stupid child actors. They weren’t given any respect or held to a standard.”
“Little House on the Prairie, all the child actors were held to a certain standard of performance and acting,” she added. “We had our 3 hours school, our 4 hours work, our 1 hour rest and recreation. Absolutely by the book… And it was Michel who really laid down that law. He didn’t want us treated like stupid kids. He’s like no, they work here, they’re people.”