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Todd from 'Breaking Bad': I'm an Ambush Predator

'He seems really, really harmless, and I think that's the scariest part,' says actor Jesse Plemons

Jesse Plemons as Todd and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman on 'Breaking Bad.'
Ursula Coyote/AMC
September 19, 2013 2:55 PM ET

In anticipation of the Breaking Bad series finale on Sunday, September 29th, Rolling Stone will publish an exclusive interview with a new cast member every day, Monday through Friday. Yesterday, Betsy Brandt shared her opinions on hand jobs and Twitter rants. Tomorrow, Jonathan Banks will sound off on the murder of Mike Ehrmantraut.

What Were Walt's Worst Moments on Breaking Bad?

In a show full of people doing horrible things, Todd might be the most evil character of all.
The way the character was described in the beginning was "fresh-faced, completely innocuous, a guy you wouldn't really even notice." He's like an ambush predator; he seems really, really harmless, and I think that's the scariest part. And I think that's why Walt was intrigued by him; Todd seems like a guy who's with his church group, but he's more calculating than he seems. At the same time, he's totally in over his head.

How much back story do you have on Todd? Why is he such an evil prick?
It's not a surprise that my uncle's around. He and I got to figure out the back story. Some of the locations, they kind of. . . I'm sorry, it's really nerve-wracking to do interviews on Breaking Bad, because I never know how much I can say. So my approach has been to say very little.

What blanks did you fill in about Todd?
He probably didn't have a father figure, and his mother was probably an addict or something, like the mom in the episode with the ATM machine ["Peekaboo," season two]. That episode really stuck with me and I connected Todd with the kid in that episode, who doesn't really say anything. And I think Uncle Jack gave Todd a safe haven. I guess it's obvious that they're part of the Aryan Brotherhood, right? We were really thinking about that angle, and not a stereotypical gang of hard guys. This is really all that these guys have: their tight-knit, brutal family.

How do people respond when they see you in public?
People are either freaked out, because there's such a stigma about Todd – for good reason, obviously [laughs] – or they still know me as Landry [his character from Friday Night Lights]. It's kind of a toss-up.

Are you more like Todd or more like Landry?
If I said I was more Todd, I don't think I could ever live that down. [Laughs] I grew up in a tiny town in Texas, so I understood the world of high school football. I'm more like Landry. And unlike Todd, I've never shot a 12 year-old kid.

Have you ever shot a 13-year-old kid?
Yeah, but I don't really want to talk about that.

Have you told anyone how the show ends?
No one. They don't want to know! People ask you jokingly, but they don't want the ending to be ruined. Except journalists. [Laughs] They might want to know.

Bryan Cranston says you have "a presence and a weight" in your acting, and that you seem older than you are, but also very innocent.
It's such a serious show, but Bryan understands this character so well that right up to "Action!" he can be cracking the entire crew up. Right before we're rolling, everyone's trying to get quiet, but he can turn Walt on and off like a light switch. He's spent so much time as Walt that there aren't many things you could throw at him that he wouldn't know how to run with.

When you watch the show, do you find yourself rooting for Walt or against him?
I root for him, but I also know that he's gotta get what's coming to him. He realizes that, too.

So you're one of the millions of people rooting for this evil bastard?
[Laughs] I know. It's kind of bizarre. But I think that's a tribute to how much you feel for Walt in the beginning. It's hard for people to lose that sympathy, even though he's taken such a crazy descent. Also, it's hard to me to be neutral – Todd has more respect for Walt than any other person, aside from Uncle Jack.

There's a lot of conjecture among fans that Todd will be the one who kills Walt. He's the most merciless character on the show, so he's the one who survives and runs the meth empire.
[Laughs] Yeah. It makes sense. Keep guessing. It's not what you expect. The final episodes are just so good, and right when you think you've got a step on it, you're thrown another curve ball. I would be really, really impressed if someone figures it out.

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