EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: BREAKING BAD Star RJ Mitte on the White Family's Fate & Shocking Season 5 Ending
I recently spoke with actor RJ Mitte, who plays the breakfast loving son of beloved meth crimelord Walter White (Bryan Cranston) on AMC’s Emmy Award winning Breaking Bad, to discuss how season five can top the ground-breaking fourth.
Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) stars in this drama focused on a mid-life crisis gone bad for an underachieving high school chemistry teacher who becomes a drug dealer after discovering he has lung cancer. With a new sense of fearlessness based on his medical prognosis, and a desire to gain financial security for his family, Walter White joins forces with an old student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), in a quest that follows their entry into a dangerous world of drugs and crime.
On Breaking Bad, 20-year-old RJ Mitte plays Walter White Jr. -- or ‘Flynn’, depending how disappointed his character is with his emotionally broken family. Just like his role on the show, Mitte suffers from cerebral palsy. The young actor had to learn how to walk with crutches for the series but does not utilize them in real life. Breaking Bad is currently winding down its fifth season and Mitte dropped some hints on what to expect not only this summer but how excited he is for it to play out in the 2013 finale. Mitte heads back this November to film the remaining episodes for the show's final season.
Keven: Even though it was already written, were you worried that the show wouldn’t return for a fifth season so that it could have potentially ended on a high note?
RJ: I knew it was coming back for a fifth season. There are way too many questions that need to be answered. Vince (Gilligan) is such an amazing writer; he wouldn’t have wanted it to just end like that. Yes it was set up so that it could have ended, but I knew that we were coming back for a fifth.
Keven: How difficult is it filming the show's extremely emotional scenes that showcase a family dissolving? Over the course of the series you’ve had several intense moments with your TV dad (Cranston) -- especially the one where you’re watching him break down in tears and disintegrate before your eyes.
RJ: I find myself getting really involved. That scene… I actually had a similar moment in real life with my grandfather like that and what he was going through. The best acting is when you can take stuff from your real life and then put it into the job. It was hard to do the scenes but fun at the same time. I love the scenes Bryan and I have been doing; it’s such an amazing role.
Keven: There’s a great scene this season where you and Bryan are watching the closing moments in Scarface showing Tony Montana fighting to the death. It seems symbolic considering Vince has compared Walter White to Tony. Should we pay close attention to that scene or is it Vince screwing with us?
RJ: You should definitely analyze that scene. He (Walter) may not be as crazy as Scarface is but he’s turning into him. He’s not doing mountains of blow but he’s still making huge amounts of meth. He’s still trying to distribute and make a business out of it. Tony Montana didn’t know when enough was enough and I think Walter White is at that moment too.
Keven: Are we supposed to refer to next summer’s eight episodes as season six or season five part two?
RJ: It’s up to you to call it whatever you want. I’ve been calling it both season six and season five part two. But I’ve always looked at Breaking Bad as one big movie. You can put all the episodes together and you have a good couple-day movie. Vince and the writers do such an amazing job.
Keven: We just watched Walter whistle while he worked a day after disposing of a dead child’s corpse. Have we now reached the point where there’s no turning back or are there still redeeming qualities to that character?
RJ: There’s always a redeeming quality to anyone. His intentions are still good and he’s trying to do this for his family but along the way he’s lost pieces of himself. After these two episodes end, the next eight will assign his fate.
Keven: Will season five end with a bang or will we be left hanging, and do you think it can really top last season's finale?
RJ: Oh yeah. You have no idea how this is gonna end. I was so shocked when I got to the last page of 508. I was just like…”Oh my god.” These next two episodes are going to be crazy. I think it will end with everyone’s mouth wide open. I don’t think anyone will be able to deal with themselves after these two end.
Keven: Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of -- if not the -- best TV series airing right now, how do you feel about the overwhelming critical acclaim?
RJ: If you wanna call it the best, call it the best. I love it. It’s a great show, but I’m in it and I’m a little biased. There’s a lot of other good shows out there. I’ve been watching Wilfred and I’m about to be watching Bryan directing The Office.
Keven: How has Breaking Bad changed your life and are you sad to see the series end?
RJ: I’ve practically grown up on the set. I auditioned when I was 13. Acting was a new world to me. I’ve literally spent half my life working on Breaking Bad. I’m sad it’s going but I’m excited to see how it ends. Vince and the writers will end it in a way that no one will be able to comprehend.
Keven: Did you ever imagine when you were hired a few years back that the show would turn out the way it has?
RJ: I had no idea. I really didn’t think it was gonna be as big of a phenomenon as it turned out to be. A highschool teacher ends up cooking meth; I mean how is that gonna play out? It turned out better than anyone ever thought. I don’t think anyone could have said that this is the recipe for success until all the characters and pieces came together.
Created by Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Giancarlo Esposito and Jonathan Banks. The fifth and final season of the critically acclaimed drama series airs Sunday nights at 10/9c exclusively on AMC.