James Fallon, a researcher who studies human behavior and who published the book “The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain,” sat on a panel with the Tribeca Film Festival Tuesday along with Bryan Cranston and Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter to discuss the topic of “Psychos We Love.”‘
Over the course of the panel, which sounds like it was fascinating to sit in on, Bryan Cranston revealed a moment during the first season of Breaking Bad that was almost too much even for him to take:
“Early on, there was a scene where I instructed my young protege to buy a particular kind of plastic container to dissolve a body, and he said, ‘Why do we have to do that when we have a perfectly good bathtub upstairs?’ But this particular chemical eats away at porcelain, so the whole ceiling came down with all the liquified body parts and we had to clean it up,” Cranston said. “Even though it wasn’t real, I found myself gagging.”
When that scene aired, I remember thinking that I had never seen anything so shocking and jaw-dropping on television. Of course now, compared to the rest of the series, it’s like child’s play (if a child played in a gore-filled bathtub).
Cranston also gave some insight as to how he got into Walter White’s head during the pivotal scene in which he stood by while Jesse’s girlfriend Jane choked to death on her own vomit:
“There was a lot of discussion about how that would go,” Cranston said. “I had a lot of thought about that. I thought objectively about how I want to have that scene conveyed, and then I just let it go. So I first wanted to respond in a humane way to a person who’s choking to death and stop it. That’s the impulse, to help. And then he stops himself because he realizes that this is the same person who’s blackmailing him and threatening to expose his whole enterprise and turn it upside down. But she’s just a girl; she could be my daughter. And so, again, you have an impulse to do something. But I think she got Jessie on heroin and is going to kill that boy who I have an affinity for. … His act of omission tells the story. … For some reason, I’m looking at Krysten Ritter’s face, and she did a superb job, but I superimposed, for some reason my mind went to this thing, looking at this young girl, and that thought of ‘She could have been my daughter,’ and my real daughter’s face took her place.”
There’s more insight from the panel over at Huffington Post if you’re so inclined — it’s definitely worth a read.