Bryan Cranston nearly turned down ‘Breaking Bad’ role due to ‘Malcolm In The Middle’

"A career in our business cannot be fully realised without a healthy dose of luck sprinkled throughout"

Bryan Cranston has admitted that he almost turned down his iconic role as Walter White in Breaking Bad due to commitments with Malcolm In The Middle.

Cranston played Hal in the sitcom, which ran for seven seasons between 2000 and 2006, with Breaking Bad beginning in 2008.

In a new interview on the Smartless podcast with Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes, Cranston revealed that an eighth season of Malcolm… was in the works, and if it was green-lit, would have prevented him from shooting the Breaking Bad pilot.

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“[In 2006] Fox said, ‘Keep the sets up. We might do an eighth season of Malcolm In The Middle‘,” Cranston said. “And everyone was like, ‘Yeahhh that’d be great.’

“In late April and early May, they called, when the upfronts are going on, they said, ‘Nope, we had a very good pilot season. Thank you guys, you did well. You’re on your own.’ So we thought, ‘Ahh, that’s too bad.’

“Later that month, I get the call to go see a guy called Vince Gilligan. ‘Do you remember him from X-Files?’ ‘Kinda.’ ‘He wants to see you about a new project called Breaking Bad.’

He added: “I read it and I thought, ‘Oh my god this is amazing.’ I met with him. He said, ‘I want to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface and I think you’re the guy to do it.’ We shot the [Breaking Bad] pilot in February and March of 2007.

“So had we got that eighth season of Malcolm In The Middle, I would not have been available to shoot that pilot and someone else would be talking to you.

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“It is absolutely my belief, I dogmatically believe this, that a career in our business cannot be fully realised without a healthy dose of luck sprinkled throughout.”

Breaking Bad ended in 2013 after five seasons. In a recent interview, Cranston said he believed the show had a “perfect” ending.

“I was content with the end of Breaking Bad,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I thought it was the perfect ending. I know I’m biased, but I don’t recall seeing the ending of a show that was so well-constructed, satisfying and legitimate. Everything just seemed to fall into place so extraordinarily well.”

Last year, the show returned for a one-off Netflix special – not featuring Cranston – titled El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story. A two-star NME review of the film said: “After five seasons of drama and trauma, the film no one asked for adds a post-credits scene to an already perfect finale.

“If you’re thinking of making a sequel, a spin-off, an aftermath or whatever else it is – if it ain’t broke, please do not try and fix it.”

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