John Cusack Was Almost Walter White

Somewhere, in a lonely, godforsaken dive in the middle of nowhere where the jukebox only plays “Against the Wind,” actor Thomas Jane is serving Matthew Broderick and John Cusack a watered-down drink that tastes like despair. “Oh boy,” Jane says, “I know what you’re going through.” The threesome are members of an infamous fraternity: they all turned down starring roles on elite AMC dramas.

Jane was offered the role of Don Draper on Mad Men, but passed because, in the words of Jon Hamm on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, “[AMC was] told that Thomas Jane does not do television. Now starring in Hung, by the way.” Hung, as you probably know, is not Mad Men.

Earlier this week, in a Hollywood Reporter cover story, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan revealed that Broderick and Cusack both had the opportunity to play Walter “The King” White, a career-defining role which eventually went to Bryan Cranston.

Gilligan had been impressed with Cranston’s 1998 guest-starring turn on The X-Files, on which he played a desperate man suffering from radiation exposure, and pushed for the actor. But the suits had trouble envisioning Fox’s suburban dad as their star and wanted to cast a big-name movie star.

Their picks? John Cusack or Matthew Broderick.

“We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in Malcolm in the Middle. We were like, ‘Really? Isn’t there anybody else?’ ” one former exec recalled. (Via)

There was, and Cranston has become one of this generation’s most acclaimed actors playing the cancer-ridden meth maker. Meanwhile, Cusack’s last movie was The Raven, which gave the world CLASSIC Edgar Allen Poe puns and little else, and Matthew Broderick made headlines last year by starring in a dumb Honda commercial.

I’m sure they regret nothing.