Breaking Bad: Did John Cusack and Matthew Broderick Turn Down Role of Walter White? Get the Story!

E! News has exclusive scoop on what really happened when casting the show's main character

By Kristin Dos Santos Sep 29, 2013 10:52 PMTags
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As the world waits to see how Breaking Bad wraps up (anyone else in a cold sweat?), it's a good time to spill some scoop on the amazing story of how this groundbreaking television series came to be.

According to insiders connected to the series from the beginning, Breaking Bad is truly the show that almost never was—with a cast that was almost entirely different. Not only did Vince Gilligan's series get passed over at FX (in favor of Courteney Cox's Dirt), but once it moved to AMC (a cable network who really had no viable scripted series before Breaking Bad), the casting process was…complicated.

One long-standing myth is that John Cusack turned down the role of Walter White, but he tweeted today at someone who asked that very question, "Didn't turn it down. U crazy."

A source who was involved with the show from the very start confirms that both Cusack and Matthew Broderick were on the initial lists, "as was every other star name that would be right." However, Cusack was never officially offered the role, according to insiders. Both he and Broderick were given the script, though, with the idea that if they liked the part it would be theirs.

Casting directors Sherry Thomas and Sharon Bialy (the geniuses who also cast The Walking Dead), pitched Bryan Cranston after he came in and read for the lead of an Aaron Sorkin play in San Diego, The Farnsworth Invention, which they were also casting.

Vince Gilligan heard the name Cranston and "flipped" because Cranston also had been on his mind after his work on The X Files (he played Patrick Crump), according to sources close to the deal. And although the network wasn't initially sold on Cranston (not being able to envision the dad from Malcom in the Middle as anything remotely similar to Walter White), all agreed to offer him the role after Cranston was offered a role in Nurses (a Barry Josephson pilot for Fox). They didn't want to lose him.

Another amusing fact? Aaron Paul initially was considered "too good-looking" for the role of Jesse Pinkman, a character who wasn't supposed to survive the first season.

Tonight we'll see if Jesse meets a better fate.

Can you imagine a world in which Breaking Bad had cast anyone other than Cranston and Paul? What do you think will happen in tonight's finale? And is anyone else still in denial this groundbreaking series is ending? Sound off in our comments section!

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