Judd Apatow reveals how he nearly stopped Bryan Cranston playing Walter White in 'Breaking Bad'
Things could easily have been very different
It is absolutely impossible to imagine anyone else other than Bryan Cranston playing Walter White.
Over the five seasons of the award-winning show, he gave an absolute acting masterclass, slowly, subtly and brilliantly changing character from a meek, mild, weak chemistry teacher to a ruthless, calculating, manipulative crystal meth producer and dealer. If you watch the first and final episodes, it’s like watching two completely different characters - yet its a seamless transition during which you can’t help but root for him, even as he spirals ever downwards.
However, it turns out that, but for a twist of fate, related to the 2008 film Pineapple Express, things could have been very different - and Cranston may not have ever had the chance to play his defining character (well, other than Hal from Malcolm in the Middle).
The stoner movie classic is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and its star Seth Rogen took to Twitter to share a load of behind-the-scenes details.
Nearly all of them were very amusing and/or interesting:
However, the biggest revelation came not from Rogen, but from the film’s producer and writer Judd Apatow, who casually weighed in with a memory of his own:
“I’ve got one,” he wrote.
“Bryan Cranston auditioned. He may have even read at a table read and I said “I don’t think he seems scary enough to seem like a real drug dealer.” If he did [Pineapple Express] maybe the Breaking Bad people would have said, “not him, he always plays drug dealers.”
An unarguably point - with Apatow admitting that he made a ‘mistake’ in a later tweet, in response to someone using it as proof that ‘it is all subjective as to what types a director or writer feels you are capable of”.
However, was it really an error?
Apatow saying that Cranston did not seem “scary enough” to play a drug dealer is exactly the reason why he works so well as Walter White in Breaking Bad. In his initial incarnation, it’s hard to think of a more unlikely meth kingpin, and that’s what makes the show so compelling. So, arguably, Apatow was right - and his decision benefited both Pineapple Express and Breaking Bad and - as a result - the world in general.
So let’s all raise a glass to Apatow today and thank him for overlooking the genius under his nose that one time ten years ago.