There are few shows as iconic as Breaking Bad. Since it debuted in 2008, the show has become a juggernaut and has spawned an entire sequel show. Plenty of fans have gone deep on the series, and what it's various symbols and icons might mean. Breaking Bad is a show that rewards that kind of thorough analysis. Even so, there are things from the show's production that many fans might now know.
Any show that has a run as long and impactful as Breaking Badit's is bound to leave some interesting stories behind. There are casting what-ifs, onset injuries, and a variety of other details. These tidbits only emerge in the show's wake, and they actually serve to enhance its legacy. They become a part of the world of the show and impact how viewers watch it. With that in mind, here are 20 behind-the-scenes Breaking Bad secrets.
To be very clear, Bryan Cranston did not kill this person. Even so, the Breaking Bad star once found himself wanted in connection with a murder. In his 20s, Bryan worked at a restaurant where the head chef was a man named Peter Wong.
Peter was apparently known to the staff as a cruel tyrant, and Bryan and his brother, who also worked at the restaurant, would occasionally joke about killing him. When the chef turned up dead, Bryan and his brother had left the state as part of a road trip. The police assumed they were fleeing the state, and arrested them. They were released shortly thereafter.
The character Walter White is a work of fiction, but he may have inspired one real-life Walter White to get cooking. In 2016, a man named Walter White rose to the top of Tuscaloosa, Alabama's most wanted list for cooking and selling meth.
If my name was Walter White, I would think very carefully about starting a meth business. It may feel a little too much like the obvious move. This Walter wasn't a teacher, but some teachers have also been arrested for drug-related offenses. Maybe Walt's story inspired some people, or maybe Tuscaloosa's Walter White would always have been a drug offender. We'll never know.
Bryan Cranston's portrayal of Walter White is a huge part of what made that character so iconic, but he wasn't AMC's first choice for the role. In fact, AMC really wanted either Matthew Broderick or John Cusack for the lead role, according to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
While it's true that Bryan was also an unlikely choice at the time, it's hard to see either of those men fitting in well. Matthew is just a little too wholesome, and while John certainly has an edge, I don't think he could have played a menacing figure as well as Bryan does.
Because Breaking Bad filmed in New Mexico, it was able to tap into a wealth of talent that most of Hollywood ignores. That includes some actors, like Daniel and Luis Moncada, who were actually in gangs and therefore had some IRL experience to bring to the gritty roles. Daniel and Luis played the terrifying Salamanca cousins on the show.
"We’ve been around the block," Luis told AMC. "I was in jail a long time ago, so I went through that. I was in a gang. Everything bad you can think of that happened to someone, happened to me and my brother. That’s why we are the way we are now. But I used it in a positive way."
Walter White's meth is supposed to be the best in the southeast. There's a reason he rises to prominence so quickly. His signature became the blue meth, which was made without Sudafed. Because the show was so popular, some drug dealers actually started producing blue meth to sell.
Ironically, while the blue meth meant that it was purer on the show, the opposite was often true in real life. Some dealers also tried to replicate the meth's purity and were largely successful. Five men were arrested for selling the purified meth, which was 99% pure, and had been manufactured in North Korea.
Late in the show, when Walt has finally amassed enough money that he doesn't know what to do with it, he buries it in the desert. Because Walt is smart, he has to find a way to remember the coordinates of the money so that he can go back and retrieve it later. He saves those coordinates on a lottery ticket.
That way, they look like random numbers that signify nothing. While the numbers on the lotto tickets don't actually lead to Walt's money, they do have a meaning. Apparently, they lead to Q Studios, which is where the majority of the show was filmed.
When Walt throws a pizza on the roof in a fit of rage, it seems like one of the more ludicrous things to ever happen on the show. It turns out, Bryan Cranston really did throw the pizza onto the roof. There was no CGI involved, and it only took him one take.
While that scene has become iconic in the years since it aired, it's also caused a bit of a hassle for the real-life owners of the White's house. Apparently, they are frequently visited by fans fo the show who want to see if they can get a pizza on the roof themselves.
Getting beat up by Tuco looked like a rough experience for Jesse. As it turns out, Aaron Paul didn't love it either. "Yeah, Raymond Cruz who played Tuco gave me a concussion during the episode ‘Grilled,'" Aaron said during a Reddit AMA.
Apparently, when Jesse is pushed through a screen door, Paul was seriously injured, and eventually blacked out. Raymond thought Aaron was just acting, so he continued on with the scene until he realized something was wrong. Fight scenes are always tough to film, especially ones in which one character is being relentlessly pummeled by the other.
Breaking Bad was notorious for killing off characters, but Jesse was one of the show's few mainstays. The show quickly became a two-hander between him and Walt, and would remain that way for most of the show's run.
The show's creator, Vince Gilligan, explained that they knew pretty early on that Aaron Paul was special. "Everybody knew just how good [Aaron Paul is], and a pleasure to work with, and it became pretty clear early on that that would be a huge, colossal mistake to kill off Jesse," Vince told The AV Club. Breaking Bad would be a totally different show without Jesse, and probably a worse one.
Breaking Bad had more than its fair share of fascinating villains, but none was stranger than Tuco. If Gus Fring was calm and collected, Tuco was the opposite. He was wild and unpredictable, which is what made him so dangerous. Apparently, Raymond Cruz, the actor who played Tuco, found the job exhausting.
Tuco was supposed to be season 2's main villain, but Raymond refused the job. "I asked them to kill me,” Raymond told AMC. “Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to coming back and doing the part. It’s really difficult to pull off. They were like, ‘We want you to come back and do eight more episodes.’ And I said, ‘No. I’ll do one more and that’s it. You guys have to kill me.’"
Because Walt is meant to be a chemistry genius, the show had to consult actual scientists to back up the science that the show discusses and explains. In general, the show's science is pretty sound. Great scientists understand, though, that even the most scientifically accurate shows aren't 100% right.
In the case of Breaking Bad, there are great reasons for the show to take liberties. For one, it doesn't want to turn into a "how to" guide on meth-making. For another, it's a much more interesting show if, for example, Walt's meth is blue, even if it would be clear in real life.
HBO is notorious for being incredibly choosy when it comes to projects. They've passed on a number of successful shows that ended up at networks like AMC, including Breaking Bad. As creator Vince Gilligan explained, he had a terrible meeting with HBO to pitch the show. It was clear they weren't interested, but they left him hanging instead of simply rejecting him.
HBO probably doesn't have a ton of regrets as a network, but missing out on Breaking Bad is probably one of them. It wasn't the only network to pass on the show -- FX, TNT, and Showtime all passed as well for one reason or another.
By the end of the show, Walter and Jesse are both pretty good at cooking meth. It only makes sense that, as part of their training, the DEA taught Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul how to cook it as well. When the show reached out to them, the DEA had to decide whether they wanted to be involved or not.
"They saw that it might be in their best interest to make sure that we do it correctly," Bryan told The High Times. "So DEA chemists came onboard as consultants and taught Aaron Paul and me how to make crystal meth."
Gus's death is gruesome, and one of the most memorable moments of the entire show. According to Vince Gilligan, it was also inspired by a real-life event. Jack Parsons was a rocket scientist who died in 1952 when his home laboratory exploded.
Parsons sustained tons of industries remisicient of the ones Gus sustains. He even had a hole blown through the right side of his face. Despite these injuries, he remained conscious for 37 minutes, and was even talking to first responders. Like Gus, he managed to carry out a few final actions even after he was fatally injured by an explosion.
This show is obviously deeply indebted to the world of chemistry. Walter is one of the greatest chemists to ever live, or that's at least what he would have you believe. Because Breaking Bad is so interested in chemistry, it actually hired a chemist for a crucial role in the show's first season.
Marius Stan, the actor who plays Bogdan, Walter's boss at the car wash, is actually a chemist. The series was his acting debut. He actually works for the Department of Energy. Bogdan is not a particularly nice guy, but it's great that the show chose to give that part to a scientist.
Walter White was always going to go bald. After all, the character's origin in the meth world involves a cancer diagnosis that he believes to be terminal. Though he ends up surviving, he sticks with the bald look that the character develops while on chemotherapy.
Apparently, that bald look was something of an issue for Bryan Cranston because his head got cold with any hair to keep it warm. For a while, Vince Gilligan was reluctant to give Walt a hat, because Jesse had been the one wearing hats up until then. Eventually, he relented, and Heisenberg's look was forever changed as a result.
The writer's strike of 2008 had an impact on tons of shows, and even led to the cancellation of some. For Breaking Bad, it may have actually changed things for the better. Initially, Walter was supposed to transform into Heisenberg in the first season much more quickly and violently than he ultimately does.
The writer's strike meant that they had to put that transformation off, which ultimately led to a more gradual transformation. That gradual descent into villainy is what made the show so compelling for many fans. This Breaking Bad secret might have ultimately made the show better than it already was.
The blue meth is one of the more iconic props in TV history. It's meant to entice and enthrall those who are addicted to the drug. Of course, the show didn't actually make meth anytime some was featured on the show. Instead, the meth is blue rock candy from The Candy Lady, an Albuquerque candy store.
The Candy Lady has an entire line of Breaking Bad-themed candies called Bad Candy. The blue rock candy is sure to be a big seller, though, given that it was used on the show. It's always nice to have props on your set that can be eaten.
Breaking Bad was always compelling and immaculately shot, but it was often a pretty grounded show. It didn't require a ton of makeup or special effects. So, when the time came to blow off half of Gus Fring's face, creator Vince Gilligan turned to another AMC show for help.
The Walking Dead crew has a lot of familiarity with making people's faces look totally destroyed. Vince went to them for Gus's makeup, which was later enhanced by CGI. It's one of the most striking images the series has ever created. It makes sense that Vince called in the big guns to make sure it looked perfect.
There are a few events in Jesse's journey on Breaking Bad that really define him as a character. One of those is the death of Jane, his girlfriend on season 2. For Aaron Paul, that was the most difficult scene to shoot, as he explained in a Reddit AMA.
"I honestly think the hardest scene for me to do was when Jesse woke up and found Jane lying next to him dead," Paul wrote. "Looking at Jane through Jesse’s eyes that day was very hard and emotional for all of us. When that day was over, I couldn’t be happier that it was over because I really, truly felt I was living those tortured moments with Jesse."