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On Visiting The ‘Breaking Bad’ Set The Day ‘Ozymandias’ Was Filmed

By / 09.16.13

me cranston

The photo you see above was taken the day *BREAKING BAD SPOILER ALERT, but c’mon* the scene Skyler White slashed Walt on the hand with a knife to protect herself and her kids from the monster they used to call “husband” and “dad” was filmed, and Bryan Cranston couldn’t have been happier. It was taken by my wife/photographer Nadia during our taking the Breaking Bad tour of Albuquerque, which I wrote about in February. Here’s what I said at the time about standing around the White house the events of last night’s episode WENT. DOWN.

Everything you’ve heard about Bryan Cranston — that he’s the nicest, most charming guy in the world — is completely true. We were about 200 feet away from the White house, which is as close as fans can get after some asshole took photos and published frame-by-frame notes on the Internet about an important scene [which turned out to be for "Blood Money"] two weeks prior to our visit.

Now, gawkers have to stay back, but the crew is still very accommodating. Moira Walley-Beckett, who wrote “Fly” and “Bug,” among other classics, came over to say hi, for no other reason than she wanted to. Cranston’s stand-in was chatting with us, too, and he said that once HEISENBERG was done being HEISENBERG, he’d bring him over. Which he did, and then we, and two other fans, spent the next five minutes shooting the sh*t with Cranston about the Oscars, Breaking Bad, and the time a member of KISS stole his girlfriend. He even signed an autograph as Walter White. Because he’s the best.

What I left out was that a member of the Breaking Bad crew mistook me for the on-set R.J. Mitte from behind. Oh yeah, and a lot of what happened during Cranston’s sauntering, smiling visit. Unfortunately, I don’t know any other details about the KISS incident, but the aforementioned autograph is now smudged with TV history: there’s a speck of blood on it. Fake blood, obviously, though it could have been real; maybe Cranston took the Nazi Compound leash for a spin earlier in the day. But we had no idea why it was on Cranston’s hand, just that it was, and that he was dirty and battered in a dirty, battered dress shirt. Watching “Ozymandias” last night was like living the plot of a movie I just made up called Methmento — I was trying to put plot pieces together based on what I already knew and what I was being shown for the first time. “OK, so, he’s wearing the outfit, but where does the blood come from? OH. Why does he look like he went 10 rounds with Tyson? I SEE. And when does he grab Holly?”

standing

(Where we were standing.)

About Holly…Nadia and I hovered around the set for about 90 minutes, with the camera crew and two driveways separating us from the White house, but we only saw one scene being filmed over and over again: Walt stomping out of the house with (hilariously fake) Holly in hand and a screaming Skyler close behind. (A cold Skyler, too — it snowed that day, hence the heavy coat Cranston is wearing.) Anyone who’s ever been present for a movie or TV shoot knows that as much you want to romanticize the ART OF FILMMAKING, it’s actually pretty boring. Walt comes out of the house, Walt gets into the car, Skyler does her best Michael Dawson impression…and repeat. And repeat.

And repeat. For an actor, it’s a job; for a gawker, it’s an incomplete, monotonous clue. We knew something important was happening — that was apparent enough from the 20 seconds of live screaming and pounding (it ended right before Walt backed the rusted truck into Skyler’s car). Less transparent, however, was that we were witnessing the events right after the climatic slashing in a horror film, a horror film in which the monster gets away (for now), plotting his revenge. Out of context, it was slow and repetitive. But after seeing all of “Ozymandias,” I’m now more convinced than ever of Cranston’s brilliance as an actor, knowing that he can go from an angry, confused, desperate man who’s lost everything to effortlessly talking about chicks and KISS in the span of 10 minutes.

He is the best. Anna Gunn is the best. I’m, I mean, R.J. Mitte is the best. Breaking Bad is the best.

cranston autograph

(Note the blood above the “h” in “White.”)


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