Bryan Cranston on ‘Drive,’ ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Breaking Bad’

The Emmy-winning star on his critically acclaimed new movie, his take on the sci-fi classic and the ending of his hit series.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

One of the many stars I got to meet at the Toronto Film Festival was Bryan Cranston, who was there promoting the film Drive. I had some questions about the end of Breaking Bad and his role in the Total Recall remake. But if you’ve seen Drive by now, you may also want to hear his thoughts on that character.


CraveOnline: We’ve seen a lot of movies where the main character has a friend who always gets them into trouble and why don’t they just ditch that guy. What were you able to give your character so we don’t question that you and ‘Driver?’

Bryan Cranston: I wanted to develop some sympathy and empathy for him. I certainly had it. He’s a schemer and a carnival barker kind of snake oil salesman. He’ll do anything, just I’ve got a deal for you and come in on this, I’m going to make you rich and we’re gonna do this. He’s that kind of guy and I think we all know someone like that, right? But I didn’t want him to be a negative energy because we wanted and needed him to be friends with Bernie Rose. We wanted Bernie to like him which then created this very interesting, compelling condition of how do you kill someone you like? So it was all planned out but it was so organic because we did it all in Nicolas [Winding Refn]’s living room. He came, he said, “You’re the guys. What do you want to do? What do you want to say? You can say whatever you want to say and do whatever you want to do.” We were all like gee, we’ve never really been given that much freedom before but they’re writing, we’re all pitching, I think… say that?… We’d try it and say well, maybe not that much. Maybe go… and almost workshopping it. It was fantastic great experience.


The schemers I know, the schemes never quite go the way the schemer plans, but they keep scheming. At least ‘Drive’ has a sense that none of this ever shapes up.

Yeah, but he means well. That’s why when he goes to Bernie Rose to try to make it right, he does. He wants to try to help the kid and make this right and then it all just blows up and all of a sudden he finds out where she lives and it’s, you know.


I was very excited to hear you were cast in the ‘Total Recall’ remake, but I would have been more excited if you’d been cast as Quaid.



What take on Cohagen do you have?

Again, we’re still dealing with an older man/younger man relationship and I did not want to be the desk pounding, “Kill him!!! Grrrrr!” Why? My backstory to him and what I pitched to Len Wiseman was he’s like a son to me. I love this kid and he was my most trusted soldier. Together we were going to do great things, great, important, legacy building things. He is just rebelling so I have to give him tough love, like I would my son who is acting out.


But it’s not exactly him. It’s something you implanted in him.

It’s kind of that way. When I give him his memory back, we will once again embrace and all will be well. Until then, I have to just contain him, just put him in his place and contain him and protect him at all costs and don’t kill him. I do not want him dead. That’s the twist that I took to it and I think again, it gives a sense of humanizing to it that you can at least understand as opposed to root for.


How do you feel about AMC’s decision to make season five the last of ‘Breaking Bad?’

Well, it’s kind of like we just dropped my daughter off at college and even though 18 years ago I knew this day would come, intellectually, emotionally I wasn’t ready for it. So you can prepare all you want and I think it’s the same thing. I love the show. I love the character. The greatest role of my life and to be told we’re only doing 16 more, I felt a loss. I felt like I was just dumped.


Well, a legitimate case could be made for five seasons isn’t enough. At least six or seven would be legitimate for a series.

It was in conjunction with Vince Gilligan who said he just couldn’t see extending beyond that so he’s in agreement with that number. He’s the guy, so. I’ve been his partner as we go along the way over now like 50 hours of storytelling. But because this journey is so unusual, I have not wanted to know what happens to my character, so I don’t ask. I read it a week before, just giving me enough time to prepare and/or raise a problem or a concern or question or whatever I may have before we go into it. But it’s as surprising to me as it is to our audience. I’m reading going, “Oh my God! Oh, wow! What?” Just being buckled in on this ride just like anybody else so it’s cool.