When you think of Walter White’s best quotes, so many of them immediately come to mind that it’s hard to choose the all-time best one-liner: “I am not in danger, I am the danger…. I am the one who knocks… Say my name… Stay out of my territory… I’m in the empire business… We’re done when I say we’re done… F— you and your eyebrows… I did it for me…”
So which of those is his real-life alter ego, Bryan Cranston’s, favorite Walt-ism? None of them. It’s actually, “Tread lightly.” We know, kind of underwhelming. But he has reasons, one them being it makes it easy to sign an autograph.
“First of all, it’s only two words so I go through it quickly,” Cranston told Entertainment Weekly in a group interview with his fellow co-stars in honor of the AMC series’ 10th anniversary. “So, there. I confess. There is an expediency to it — and economy. I enjoy brevity.”
If you can’t place the quote immediately, allow us to remind you where it comes from. Walt says it as a warning to Hank (Dean Norris), his DEA agent brother-in-law who has finally discovered Walt is the meth lord he’s been hunting down. “I don’t know who you are… I don’t even know who I’m talking to,” Hank says when he learns the truth. “If that’s true, if you don’t know who I am… then… maybe your best course would be to tread lightly,” Walt responds.
“It’s his credo,” Cranston told EW. “In many ways, he was very careful. Even though he stepped into landmines, he was very careful almost all the time. When he didn’t follow that motto is when he failed, like shooting Mike [Jonathan Banks]. It was very emotional. And the brazen hubris of telling Jesse, ‘I watched Jane die.’ It was unnecessary cruelty and emotional vomiting from his point. When he didn’t follow that credo is when he found himself in the most troubling condition.”
“Breaking Bad” may be over, but AMC is bringing the show back for a big reunion at Comic-Con later this month. So get yourself to San Diego if you want to hear more stories about Vince Gilligan’s twisted, but beloved, series. Or, if you don’t have passes, check back with TheWrap, which will be bringing you coverage in real time.