By Olly MacNamee
While it’s been a few weeks since the last of the big MCM shows here in the UK, it has been many months since Breaking Bad has finished, albeit there are many, many people who still have yet to catch even a single episode, so y’know, there may very well be the mildest of spoilers for those of you, dear readers, who either haven’t got Netflix or haven’t borrowed the box set off a very kindly friend. Who knows, you may well be expecting it from Santa this holiday season.
The fact that many people are still discovering the phenomenon that is Breaking Bad, is the nature of the series that RT Mitte was all too aware of as he discussed his time on the show at the Birmingham MCM Comic Con back in November, but happy that as such it gave the show the kind of longevity other shows lack. I mean, how many of us are discovering the disappointment that was Lost for the first time? Does anyone you know even speak glowingly of it now it has finished in the same way as people boast about the genius that is Breaking Bad? But, Breaking Bad is the Shawshank Redemption of TV; a slow burner that people discover the brilliance of over time. Word of mouth is still a very powerful tool when it comes to promotion you just cannot buy or even plan for. In fact, Mitte and the rest of the cast only became aware of its popularity when they visited SDCC and that was after three series, he revealed!
But, I digress. My point being, this article has been a long time in coming. So, let’s all agree to call it an early Christmas present can we?
Breaking Bad’s Walter White Jr, oblivious son to meth magician ‘Heisenberg’, RT Mitte talked to the fans about his own experiences of the show as well as answering questions from the eager audience and quash some false myths about the series in the process. He practically grew up on the show, as did his younger sister who was only 2 when they first started filming, coming on to nearly 9 years of age by the time they had finished. When Mitte stated that the cast was ‘practically family’ you can believe it.
Talking about his own preparation for his role, it may come as no surprise that RT Mitte does actually have the same disability as his character, cerebral palsy, but what may come as a surprise is his preparation for the role. Having worked and worked so hard on taking charge of his own body from a young age, Mitte explained to the captivated audience how he had to ‘unlearn’ everything he had worked so hard to accomplish as they presented him with a set of crutches that, in his personal life, he had toiled so hard to avoid using.
Other than the slightest of characteristics in his speech patterns (he admits to regressing orally too when playing the part), no-one would have guessed he had any disability, which for me makes it so annoying that even today he is often offered roles that require him to play to type. And, while he makes light of it, claiming ‘that’s part of being an actor’ it can’t be easy to be continually offered only certain parts because of limited perceptions. Are casting directors seeing the actor, or the disability one wanders? He even joked further that in his next role he should be cast as a coma victim. Half-joked maybe? Still, nothing could dampen his enthusiasm and gratefulness at the opportunity he was given by Vince Gilligan. An acting gig, I suppose, is better than no acting gig.
On both days fans were quick to ask about Walt Jr’s fascination with cereal was all about (falling out with his mom when he is bought Raisin Bran and not Raisin Bran Crunch in season 2 may be the starting point for this particular myth) with fans seeming to remember Walt Jr eating more cereal than he did (‘a total of 5 times only’ was Mitte’s clarification of this). He finally gets his Raisin Bran Crunch, but only in Season 5. By then, it’s too little too late.
Answering further questions from the audience, Mitte revealed that he would have liked scenes with Jesse, White Senior’s ‘son he never had’ as well as the neo-Nazi clan leader, Uncle Jack, because of their characters and their acting abilities. Who can blame him?
From the very beginning, looking at the pilot script, everyone involved with the show knew they were working on something akin to a literary classic and like his on-screen father they would be creating ‘a good product, just like Walter White’.
Would he be in the Better Call Saul series? No, given that it is a prequel, he would be no younger than a baby, suggesting a time period of about 18 – 20 years ago for the setting of this hotly anticipated show winging its way to us come February.
Asking about Walt Jr’s fate after the show, Mitte believed that his life would be relatively a rough ride. Firstly, the DEA would seize everything from him and his mother and even after that, he feels that because of the shared stubbornness he has in common with his father, he would ultimately refuse the inheritance left to him by his dad.
With meeting in London the following day, and the film Who’s Driving Doug, a road-trip movie of sorts, to be released next year hopefully we will get to see more of this bright, young talent both in the USA and here too.
Mitte both at the two panels over the two days, as well as his time signing autographs looked like he was having a good time and, like many other actors, seemed to be enjoying the experience. Us too, Mitte, us too.
Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn’t know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or don’t.