Walter White is dead in the ground. You saw it happen in the Breaking Bad series finale. But—Spoilers follow for the new movie—that didn't stop Bryan Cranston from appearing in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.
The new Netflix movie revealed what happened to Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) after Walter White saved him from captivity. So, Walter's dead, then how is Cranston in it? The movie features a flashback to a time Walter was alive, during season two specifically, and Cranston shot the whole thing in secret during two days off from his Broadway play Network. What was it like becoming "the danger" once again?
"It was wonderful. I was really grateful that he thought of me to be a part of this. At the same time, I was wondering, ‘How the hell is that going to work?' I guessed it only could be retrospective, in flashback, and said, ‘OK, whatever he has to do.' And basically, that's it. If Vince Gilligan called me and said, ‘I need you to wash my car,' I'd say, ‘How about this Saturday?' I would do anything for him, because I know he is so devoted to the integrity of the characters. He wouldn't do this if it didn't have a germane place in the storytelling," Cranston told Rolling Stone when he got the call to be Walter White again.
For Cranston, who said he had no qualms with playing this version of Walter White again, it took strapping on some fake facial hair, the clothing and a bald cap to really get back into the character. While El Camino was a chance to get some closure for fans of the characters, Cranston it was a happy reunion.
"We actually shot the last scenes of the show on the very last day, which I remember very well: April 3rd of 2013, over six years ago. You have a rush of emotions. Not only is your character saying goodbye in the storyline, but personally, I'm saying goodbye to these actors and this crew who I've become so intimately involved with. Knowing that the history of working in this business is one of separation, you gain such depth emotionally with people you're working with. You're telling a story, and when it's over, you walk away. It's almost like a high school graduation, where you look at people and wonder, ‘I don't know if and when I'm going to see them again.' Although you're happy to come to a good conclusion, you're also a bit sad, because of the fact that you're saying goodbye," Cranston said.
The original goodbye settled, so the relationships he made on Breaking Bad took on new shapes, Cranston said.
"This time, Aaron is still a friend, we've got the mezcal business together, we celebrate birthdays and other things together. He's a dear friend. And Vince is also a dear friend, and a lot of the other people I've reacquainted with, we exchange emails and see each other whenever possible. So the goodbye of 2013 had a time to settle, and [to allow] the new relationship to develop. And that's what we have, a new relationship that is great. A large part of the reason that Aaron and I started the mezcal business is because we missed each other on a day-to-day basis. We knew that we probably won't get a chance to work together again for a while, with the exception of El Camino," he said.
Series creator Vince Gilligan said he wanted Cranston involved because "there is no Breaking Bad without Walter white.
"I thought that I could show them in some moment from the past that was very dramatic and exciting," Gilligan told Vulture. "But then I thought, ‘Hell, that's what the whole rest of this movie was about! How about we show a little quiet moment way back in the day when they weren't at each other's throats on such an existential level?' Go back to when they annoyed each other, but basically they had respect for one another."
To accomplish the secret cameo, production used code names, cloaked the actors, shielded locations and made up backstories for why some of the Breaking Bad actors were in New Mexico again, according to Vulture.
"Going from the car to set, both of us would have to wear these ridiculous looking cloaks, like we were part of a very, very, very demented cult," Paul told Vulture. "I also thought it drew a lot more attention to us, but obviously it worked. It was so much fun. It was so nice to zip on skins of these characters that kicked off Breaking Bad. There was some blood already on their hands, but it was a much happier time. And working alongside Bryan once again in this world was something I never thought I was going to be able to do. It was a dream."
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is now streaming on Netflix.