In anticipation of the Breaking Bad series finale on Sunday, September 29th, Rolling Stone has been publishing an exclusive interview with a new cast member every day.
So. How’s it going?
[Laughs] It’s going. Busy week. What’s even better is I have horrible allergies, so literally right when everything picked up, my allergies kicked in. I canceled everything I was doing one day so I could take a nap, or I would not have survived.
Right at the moment the entire show’s been building toward for you since the pilot.
That’s always how it works.
When you finally reach that moment, when Walt Jr. finally finds out about Walt Sr., do you feel all that build-up with you on set?
A little bit. When I play the scenes, I always think about what it will look like after. You never know how people will respond to it. When I react to certain incidents, I just think, how would I behave? How would I do this? I just always go with that. What would you do in that situation? And when I think back on what these moments mean to people, and what people relate to, I have no idea until they air. I only know if I did a good job when people are freaking out.
We never actually see the moment when he finds out from Marie and Skyler. We only see the aftermath.
The way he found out just threw him right into that world. Marie comes in, and they pretty much tell him right then and there. Everything that happened would have been very different if he’d had longer to jump into it. He went from a child to an adult in an afternoon. He’s 17 years old now, and he’s having to deal with real-world problems. I’m really happy with the way it went, because I think it was the perfect reaction. All these characters have gone their ways, and when it’s finally Junior’s turn, he’s trying to do what’s right to protect his family.
Particularly during that knife fight. The way Junior throws himself into the fray, then calls the cops on Walt, it’s a little like he’s really doing what Walt Sr. was claiming to do all along – he’s actually trying to protect his family.
I think along the way, Walt Sr. forgot his message. He got addicted to what he was creating, what he was bringing to life, everything that had come together. And Junior was still living his life thinking, “Oh, this is a happy family. For the most part.” But so much stuff has happened to Walt Jr. with his CP that I think when he had to react, he would react. It mattered who came to him first, and the way it came out was horrible. If Bryan’s character were to come to him, Junior would probably be a lot more lenient. But he just finds out all this information about his father, his mom’s pretty much not saying anything, and he comes home to an altercation where his dad pulls a knife on his mom. I, for one, knowing my personality, would have definitely stopped it there. On top of all that, he has a disability. All this is hitting him so hard. Everything the family fought for, everything they tried to grow for, everything that has come and gone in his life – he’s about to lose it all.
When he makes the phone call to the cops, he phrases it the way you did just now – that his dad pulled a knife on his mom, when in fact it was the other way around. He thought on his feet and instinctively gave them a domestic-violence narrative they’d react to.
When it came down to it, Walt Jr. would do anything to protect his mom, as any son would. He went through several domestic disputes with them in the past, so he has an idea of that. But in the moment, his father was standing over him, he had control of the knife . . . That was mainly his motivation: “We need to stop this now.”
During that fight, I couldn’t help but think you were going to get stabbed to death by accident.
It ran through my mind.
That’s the strength of the show, especially in that episode. I wouldn’t have put anything past it.
That’s the best part about it. All these worlds are colliding now. I’m excited to see how people are going to react when they finally see the end credits, you know?
People are reacting to the end of the show like it’s the death of a family member.
It could very well be. [Laughs]
Walt’s phone call to Skyler has been hotly debated. What did Junior think was going on?
It was really traumatizing. Between the knife and Holly, it really . . . If you think about it, you’re a 17-year-old kid that’s just finding out his father is a drug kingpin, and earlier that day they get into an altercation and a knife is pulled. You’d be pretty freaked out. At the moment I think he’s just concerned with Holly. He loves his father, he knows his father wouldn’t do anything to hurt him, but at this point he doesn’t know who his father is anymore, and he’s scared of never seeing his little sister again. I think he’s also scared he’s never going to see his father again.
It can build and it can turn into many things from this point. This is a kid, and a lot of anxiety and angst is going to be building, and either he’s going to lash out at his father or he’s going to lash out at the people closest to him. After that phone call, it’s all going to vary depending on who makes the next move. Walt Jr. knows Hank is dead. He’s going to deal with animosity and a little bit of hate towards his father, because he idolized his uncle and now he’s gone. Walt admitted to putting Uncle Hank in the grave. It’s going to blow up.
It’s fascinating to hear how much value you think Junior places on who actually reaches out to him. He’s so close to all the adults in his family that whoever makes the first move probably does carry a lot of weight with him.
He’s Walt’s only son, except for Jesse, who really isn’t flesh and blood. And he really loved and respected his uncle. When he comes to the realization that “My father just killed my uncle – this isn’t a man I knew. This isn’t my father,” he’s losing both of the people he cares the most about. He’s pretty much losing everything. I mean, you saw his dilapidated house at the beginning, right? What’s going to go on from there? This kid’s world came crashing down when he made that phone call. Next to doing what’s right for the family, he’s going to discover the outcome.
You’re making me nervous.
Good! That’s what I like to hear. I’ll say this a thousand times: the writers do an extraordinary job, and no one works harder. And I know there are only two episodes left, but it gets better. I don’t know how to tell people that, but it really does. Enjoy the show. It gets crazier.