Bryan Cranston: How Love, Drugs, and Power Inspired My “Breaking Bad” Performance as Walter White


I mean the purpose of writing my book was
to express myself, to continue being a storyteller. These are two stories. It’s called Life in Parts because of the
parts we play. Not only the parts I played in my profession
but also the parts we play as human beings. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a brother. I’m a citizen, a neighbor, and all those
things. And we all are. We all present ourselves that way. I also wanted to write honestly because I
thought if I’m not telling the truth then what’s the point. It’s masturbatory which has its place in
your life but not in this case. I wanted to present it to say okay, here’s
when I was afraid. Here’s when I was insecure. This is times when it was really trying on
me or testing me. The two incidents that you mention I was married
once before to a lovely young woman who we just, we weren’t suited for each other. And so we separated. We parted ways. And out of that four year togetherness I was
newly single. And within a month or so I was on an audition
and I met this woman named Ava whose name I changed. And she was aggressive and assertive and beautiful
and I was kind of taken aback. And we got together quickly and we were boyfriend
and girlfriend before I could blink. And then I realized there was something off
about her. And what was off about her is that she was
addicted to drugs. But I never knew exactly what kind of drugs. I was really very ignorant about drugs because
I was on that track to become a police officer and I just never indulged. I’d smoke pot once in a while but it was
never my thing so it didn’t appeal to me. And I’ve never done any other drug than
that. So I was very ignorant on that but I noticed
her behavior was different. She would be sweating one moment and then
she’s fine and then she’s down and then she’s up. IT’s like there’s something very strange
going on. And I tried to get out of the relationship
and she was so powerful she refused the breakup. When I decided I was going to breakup with
her I thought of the possible scenarios. She could be angry. She could be pleading. She could agree with me. Yeah, I think it’s best we should breakup. There could be any number of things. And I thought about how I would react depending
on what reaction she would give. The only thing that I didn’t count on is
that she said no. Just calmly said so, we’re not breaking
up. I don’t know what to do with that. And she was so aggressive and assertive that
she just kept pulling me into her life and it was crazy. It’s a longer story but she started stalking
me and showed up at work. I was working on a soap opera at the time
in New York and she showed up at work and she was thrown out of the studio. And she would leave these messages on my answering
machine in those days. This is the early eighties. And threatening me that she was going to have
me killed and when I lease expect it. She would say I can find you any time. Look, I was at the floor of your show. That’s how easy. And I was really like she’s right. And she was very smart and it was like oh
my god, at any moment she could have someone just kill me. And she said specifically that. The one Achilles heel that she had was that
she loved her mother deeply. And I had met her mother a couple of times
and she’s a lovely lady. And one time I picked up the phone. I usually didn’t answer the phone but I
picked up the phone and it was her. I went oh god. And I just told her I said look Ava, don’t
ever call me again. Leave me alone. No more threats. I have all these threats on my answering machine. If you continue with this I will tell your
mother. I will let your mother listen to your threatening
my life. Silence. Silence on the phone. Then she came back on and said I want that
tape. I want that tape. And she’s screaming obscenities. And I went Ava, listen to me. I promise you I will erase these tapes if
you leave me alone. But if you don’t I will give them to your
mother. But if you leave me alone your mother will
never hear them. I promise you that. I’m coming for the tapes. I’m coming for the tapes. And this was at the point of I was already
shaking because she had made so many threats against my life. She came over to my apartment. I knew she knew where I lived. And she buzzed. Of course in New York if you buzz every apartment
someone’s going to buzz you back in, you know. It just happens. So she came up and she’s pounding on my
door. Let me in. She’s screaming at me. I want those tapes. Just a madwoman. And I am at the foot of my bed curled up in
a ball. And part of me when I think back on it was
embarrassed. This young woman – I was 28 years old. I was a strapping strong young man. This woman was five foot two, 105 and I’m
frightened of her. And I think there was some embarrassment along
with that if I’m honest. And it made me realize that it doesn’t matter
how small someone is. It’s power. It’s someone who’s taking power and using
it or abusing it as the case may be. Anyway, I’m at the foot of my bed curled
up into a ball and I finally had it and I just calmly got up and I went to the door
and I unlocked the door and I opened the door, she was there. I grabbed her by the back of the hair and
I pulled her in, closed the door and I pulled her into my room and there was one brick wall
in my apartment at the time. And I took her by the back of the head and
I slammed her head into the brick wall over and over and over again. I just kept slamming her head into the brick
wall until blood and brain matter was dripping down the brick down to the floor. And then I jolted and realized I was still
at the foot of my bed and I looked over to the brick wall. Of course nothing was there. I’m panting like a sick dog and shallow
breaths. I was so scared because what I saw in my vision
was so real. I saw myself like step out of my body calmly
and kill this woman who I was frightened of. I was like a cornered animal and I came out
and attacked. And that was an experience that really happened. Excuse me. I used that in Breaking Bad when I felt I
got so angry at Mike I could kill him. I could kill someone else. Why? How? How is that possible? Well I had this experience in my life and
I knew that even the meekest person among us if pressured, if given the set of circumstances
that were dire could become extremely dangerous. That’s where Walter White went. He became extremely dangerous to himself,
to others because of a condition that he was in. He felt he was forced into a certain place
that he had to defend himself like Ava, like me in my bedroom cowering, frightened out
of my mind to the point where I envisioned this murder. And it made me realize how desperate human
beings could become. The best thing I could say out of it is that
I was able to use it in sort of a therapeutic way in my art to be able to express myself
so I don’t harbor these feelings. I purge them. So that’s real.

About the author

Comments

  1. It's amazing that he focuses on the worst part of his life, the worst girlfriend he ever had got the majority of time- that's sad.

  2. Straight up man this story rings so true to home I was in a situation for a year but I wanted to stick it out because love is blind and I'm a dumbass. I'm still recovering from it all but hearing this really helped me work some stuff out. Thank you Bryan. Walter White forever.

  3. "Men CAN NOT get harassed or abused because the man is bigger and stronger then the woman" -Feminists
    .
    Also, if he would have actually hit her, no not kill her.. hit her, he'd be in jail right now. Or recently gotten out.

  4. how the hell did it get to him talking about girlfriends i thought the question was something about the show. Is this real? Is this his real life? What the hell is going on? Should he be worried about getting in trouble for any of this? Does anybody know? I hope he's just fucking around with this interview but he's a professional actor…

  5. Holy shit, I knew the video was about how he got into character for breaking bad but I completed forgot and got drawn in by his story! I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat

  6. I don't even know what to do in my life anymore….that cut me so deep; slicing right through every layer of irony I cover myself and my online personality in. What's the point anymore? How am I supposed to continue being in it for the lulz when the lulz don't mean the same to me anymore?

  7. Fight or Flight. If pushed hard enough the most decent person will defend themselves however possible. But hopefully you can find another way out, flight isn't always a bad thing.

  8. when he started to described the blood and brain matter i was like wha t t h e f u c c o hh sh i t t h o ww

    He's such a great storyteller/actor i believed him until he said he was actually on his bed.

  9. So does this mean Breaking bad is antifeminist? If the Walter White character was based on an incident of female domestic abuse, than no one should be able to watch it, right?

  10. "There are three things all wise men fears: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man." -Patrick Rothfuss

  11. If Bryan ever reads his book as an audio book, boy am I buying that. Just the way he tells stories, in this extremely calm, relaxing, deep voice is so incredibly soothing.

  12. damn i was only half watching until he started describing killing ava and i was so thrown by his realistic story telling, I had to remind myself that he would be a convicted murderer by now, and then he said it was just a vision and I let out all the breath I hadn't realized I was holding

  13. On some levels I feel like this is an actual confession I mean really was to say that he didn't really kill those for me eat any really use any names he changed names to protect who

  14. Bryan Cranston after all the things I heard coming out of your mouth. This. This was the most intensifying story I have ever heard from you. You hold so much intense feelings that acting really did help pursue those feelings out. You truly are a great actor my friend .

  15. At the climax of his story, my flu.x app (which I set for 'disable for 1 hour') came back into its dark red color. A surreal experience.

  16. The reason a 28-yr-old, strong strapping man could be afraid of a 5' 2", 105lb woman is because a GUN is the great equalizer … especially if somebody has threatened your life. Bullets are very democratic, they hurt/kill whomever they hit no matter how big, strong or important the victim is and they can be fired by anybody. Lee Harvey Oswald was a loser who killed the most powerful man in the world with his mail order rifle.

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