Chemical Brothers: 'Breaking Bad' Stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul

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Gilligan is anxious about the ending – and not just because of his desire to live up to fans' expectations. "I fear for the day when this is over," says Gilligan. "I honestly fear that this will be the highlight of my career. And you don't want it to be! You'd rather be Clint Eastwood than Orson Welles. You'd rather be doing some of your best work toward the end than at the beginning of it. Though, shit, I'd take Orson Welles in a New York minute!"

Many of the actors have their own hopes, or at least fears. "If Jesse does end up dying," says Paul, "I hope it's not him getting shot in the back. I hope he goes out guns blazing!" Dean Norris is hoping for a big showdown with Walt, which seems highly likely (if you have a DEA agent brother-in-law above the mantelpiece, he should probably go off in the third act). And Bob Odenkirk just wants Saul Goodman to survive, so he has a chance at the spinoff show that Gilligan has at least half-seriously suggested.

For a long time, Cranston expected Walt to die at the end – a reasonable prediction for a character with terminal cancer. "But then I started rethinking it, and I thought it wouldn't surprise me if the guy who is creating all this crap, the toxic avenger himself, lives. It wouldn't surprise me at all. The guy who should die, doesn't!"

If there's one thing no one's expecting, it's a happy ending. "This isn't going to be a fairy tale," Paul says, sipping his beer across from Cranston at the Irish bar. "But I know there will be a time where I'm not ever going to get to zip on this skin again, and I love Jesse so much. I really do."

Cranston breaks the solemnity: "For me, at the end of this," he says, "I just can't wait to get away from all these assholes."

"He's just saying that 'cause he's hurting deep, deep inside," Paul replies.

Cranston smiles, looking absolutely nothing like Walter White. "No," he says. "I'm not."

This story is from the August 16th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

Walter White's Lowest Lows
Bob Odenkirk: Saul Goodman Could Be Vegas Mayor in 'Breaking Bad' Spinoff
Q&A: 'Breaking Bad''s Jesse Plemons on Todd's Killer Instinct
Q&A: 'Breaking Bad' Star Jonathan Banks on Mike's Turmoil
Q&A: 'Breaking Bad' Star Dean Norris on the Many Faces of Hank
Q&A: 'Breaking Bad' Star Anna Gunn on Skyler's Suffering
'Breaking Bad' Q&A: Laura Fraser on the Mystery of Lydia
Off the Cuff: Bryan Cranston on Pompous Characters, Becoming an Ordained Minister

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