Your character, Walter White, rationalizes his decision to cook crystal meth as a way to provide for his family. But as the show evolves, it seems like he is more fulfilled as a gangster than as a family man.
The thing I don't think he or the audience could have anticipated was how this changes a man. This adrenaline, pumping in his veins, changed him. As a man Walter White never, in his 50 years, ever came close to intimidating another human being, and all of a sudden he is doing it on a daily basis. That's power, that's feeling your oats, that's being alive. Now there's no idea of being depressed or bored in his life or missed opportunities. Fuck no, he's pumped. What I love about the show, is that as he changes, we are being honest in showing the effects on his ego, of his avaricious behavior, his hubris, it's just bubbling out of him, now, and he's owning it.
Your depiction of a man dying of cancer is extraordinarily powerful. Did you draw on any personal experience for that?
It goes back to my grandfather. The very first death of someone I loved and knew. I lived with him for a year when my parents broke up. He died when I was 14 — and it crushed me.. And he, ironically, died of lung cancer. He never smoked in his life, but he was a baker, and they surmised that the dust, inhaling the flour dust from all the years of being a baker created it. And yes, my sister-in-law now has breast cancer and we're dealing with that on a weekly basis now, watching her numbers and taking her to her treatments. At my age, I don't think anyone is untouched by cancer.
How do you rate your own legacy? You were the play-it-for-laughs bumbling father in Malcolm in the Middle and now you're a drug kingpin. That's quite the contrast.
When I was on Malcolm, I would have been very proud to have the opening statement on my eventual obituary read "the father of Malcolm in the Middle passed away today at age 110. But [Breaking Bad's Walter White] is the role of my life. If I'm to be remembered it will be for this role. And if anything comes after this, it'll be like: Would you like more gravy on your gravy on top of your meat? Oh my god. It would just be ridiculous.
It will be very interesting to see how this story ends.
I hope we get what the producers of Lost got — notice of the end date way ahead of time, so the writers can write to a fitting end. It would be nice. But [for Walter White] you know it can't be good.
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