We knew Walter White has a secret life. But so does everyone else on "Breaking Bad."
To keep the AMC drama moving, creator Vince Gilligan and his writers provide only the essentials, so viewers have to fill in the blanks. But so do the show's stars. In a recent Television Critics Association panel, they shared the backstories they created for their characters, beyond what's in the scripts.
Dean Norris, who plays Hank Schrader, was absent. But Betsy Brandt, who plays his wife, Marie, was happy to fill in the couple's sad backstory. She also talked about why she's so close to her sister, Skyler (Anna Gunn).
Here are the secret, though not exactly canon, "Breaking Bad" backstories.
SAUL GOODMAN (Bob Odenkirk)
Odenkirk: I actually have some thoughts about Saul, but I’m not I’ve never run them by Vince. But I first of all, I’ll tell you one thing. I think he’s from Chicago. I’m from outside of Chicago. A lot of Chicagoans love to go to, you know, the Southwest, get away from the weather. But also I think they perceive the people, everybody west of Chicago, as being easy to manipulate.
You can sell granola to those people. They eat raisins and crap that grows out of trees.
You know, that’s the Chicago I know. So that’s why he would be attracted to that part of the country. … You know, there’s so much manipulation that goes on. The government of Chicago is all backstage deals, you know. So it’s just it’s in the blood there.
WALTER WHITE, JR (R.J. Mitte)
Mitte: For Walt, Jr., mostly with his CP, I grew up dealing with cerebral palsy, and there’s a line that he has in the first season when he comes up to Bryan [Cranston]. He’s like, "Everything that I’ve been through," and that was a big part of what I created in Walt, Jr., is people don’t realize, when you have a disability that actually affects your muscle, you go through binding, and the binding process is not very pleasant. And that’s not just a daily process. That’s a nightly process. So when I was creating Walt, Jr., I was thinking about everything that I went through with casting and binding and leg immobilizers and everything with that. So that was a big, big basis for Walt, Jr.
HANK AND MARIE SCHRADER (Dean Norris and Betsy Brandt)
Brandt: I had thought about, you know, how Marie and Hank — and I love that relationship, and I feel so lucky that I got to play that with Dean in the show — but I always felt like they really wanted to have kids and they couldn’t. … I would think about that every time I have a scene with Walt and Skyler’s kids, and that just helped me.
MARIE SCHRADER AND SKYLER WHITE (Anna Gunn)
Brandt: I would love how [Anna] and I would talk: “What the F are their parents like?" … Which was fun for us to talk about in hair and makeup.
Gunn: Yeah. We talked about that a lot, and that was something that we wondered about a lot. We talked with Vince a little bit about it, but I always felt that and we always felt that these two did not have a happy childhood and –
Brandt: They were like these war buddies.
Gunn: Yeah. And so they had to stick together no matter what, and I always felt that Skyler in some way had to be the you know, the sort of mother figure… and so my feeling about that was that Skyler learned to take care of things and deal with problems and just put her head down and get through things. She learned how to do that at a very young age. And that was sort of very, very important part of her character, and she learned that at a young age, dealing with whatever situation they had at home. And I think that was something that we discussed in detail about that.
Brandt: Maybe we’ll learn more about their parents if this spin off happens.
Gunn: When our spin off happens.
JESSE PINKMAN (Aaron Paul)
Paul: The character was obviously just revealed to me more and more as the episodes went along. I didn’t really have a backstory. I think it was just a constant that Jesse was just in a constant search for some guidance in his life, and even though he maybe didn’t want to admit it, he was searching for maybe like a father figure in a way. And I think he found that in Walt because his parents kind of gave up on him, you know, years ago. So that comes with him wanting to kind of protect kids in a way.
There’s episodes where we all know that he has this fondness for children. So I think he wants to protect those children because he just never really got that or at least he didn’t feel that he had that protection from his parents, so…
WALTER WHITE (Bryan Cranston)
Cranston: The turning point for Walter White was July 4, 1978, Coney Island, New York, when he actually entered the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest, and consumed 38 and a half hot dogs and was seriously considering going into the professional eating circuit as opposed to being a chemist, so…
Vince Gilligan: Why did you have to ruin the ending?