One of my favorite quotes about Breaking Bad comes from showrunner Vince Gilligan, who described the arc of the series as “turning Mr. Chips into Scarface.” This is a perfect description of where the show has taken viewers over the years, as evidenced by this post from yesterday, from Walter White as a bumbling, friendly schoolteacher to Walter White as the ruthless drug kingpin Heisenberg. But it does leave at least one question out there, lingering in the barren New Mexico desert: Was Heisenberg always in Walter White, or did Walter White invent Heisenberg out of whole cloth? In a new interview with TV Guide, Bryan Cranston sheds a little light on the situation.
The actor considers Walter’s unprecedented-for-TV descent from milquetoast science teacher to ruthless drug lord. “People ask, ‘Was Heisenberg always there — the darkness — or did he have to completely adopt a new personality to survive?’ And my answer is the former — he was always there,” Cranston says. “We are built with the capability of being light or dark or anywhere in between. Given the right set of circumstances, anyone can become dangerous. And here you have a man who’s a sweet guy, a smart man, and he has dark thoughts. The rest of us are just not exposing our dark thoughts to the world.”
He’s right, Heisenberg was always there. Always.