Bryan Cranston breaks down the Breaking Bad reunion Super Bowl commercial
It took six years after the end of Breaking Bad for Walt and Jesse to share the screen again in El Camino. It took three more years to get this meth-making duo together for another flashback scene in Better Call Saul. And now, it's taken just six months for these Bad boys to pop back up, but this time, they're embarking on a slightly healthier and more lawful business venture.
There will be a brief Breaking Bad reunion during Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, one that features chemistry teacher-turned-meth-lord Walt (Bryan Cranston) and his former-student-turned-apprentice Jesse (Aaron Paul). In this PopCorners commercial written and directed by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, Jesse marvels at Walt's latest concoction — an air-popped, not fried snack — and he can't keep his hands/mouth off of them. "No, we don't eat our own supply," Walt reminds his pupil while Jesse grows more excited. "Everyone's going to want a taste," Jesse raves, "and I know just the guy to talk to."
Enter their highly unhinged distributor Tuco (Raymond Cruz), who grabs the snack from Jesse with suspicion, before a pork-pie-hatted Walt, er, Heisenberg commands Tuco to "Say. Their. Name." He samples one, issues his signature stamp of approval, and frightens them into offering not just six flavors but seven. "We're going to eat a lot of snacks together," he sums up with a sinister laugh.
How did this latest and unexpected reunion of the revered, Emmy-winning drama come to be? What was it like to return to the scene of many crimes? And this can't be the last time that fans will see Walt and Jesse together again, right? EW was the one who knocked... on the door of the RV to ask Cranston all about the 60-second spot titled "Breaking Good," which you can watch below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You, Aaron and Vince reunited just six months ago on Better Call Saul. Did this idea come together in the wake of that reunion? Did you miss each other that much?
BRYAN CRANSTON: The people at PopCorners may have heard interviews about how much we enjoy working together, and I'm not sure how they conceived the idea. But once we heard the creative behind it and what they wanted to do, to really reestablish the authenticity of the characters, the wardrobe, the RV and all that, we were intrigued. It's funny, after almost seven years of doing [Breaking Bad], we didn't have a lot of opportunities to just have fun, because of the intensity of the show. This was different because we had three days of just smiling and laughing and just enjoying each other's company and putting on these costumes that meant so much to us — as did the show itself. I realized when Aaron and I were looking at the creative and being pitched that we're having fun with the characters, we're not making fun of the characters, and that was important to us, to be able to stay in character. The characters don't break and goof around. They are who they are.
You and Aaron have spent a lot of time together in various ventures since the show ended, but you hadn't been on screen with Raymond in years. Walk us through this reunion. How did it feel to be standing in the simulated desert, opposite Tuco shouting, "Tight! Tight! Tight!" again?
[Laughs.] Well, there we are. We were actually in a real desert out past Lancaster [California]. That was the real RV that is on the Sony lot that fans go by and take pictures of all the time. I think we had three different ones. One that ran really well, but didn't look as good. One that looked really great on the outside, and then on the inside, we had a different one. But this, we used the outside and inside of our hero RV. And to see the bullet holes in the door and all, it was almost like you're having a dream, you're going back. So we were just smiling the entire time and looking at each other's clothes again, and the sensibility and how Raymond Cruz as Tuco talked, how Jesse talked. Even how Walt talked. We all had our own distinctive ways of communicating. It was just so much fun.
That's one of the biggest reasons we did it. One, PopCorners was going to stay true to the milieu of Breaking Bad, which was really important to us. And the second thing is: We're just going to have a lot of fun. Like I said, we didn't have a lot of opportunities just to be laughing and smiling through production on Breaking Bad because of the content.
Right. The show had this very wicked sense of humor and, of course, was about making meth. I'm wondering what kind of conversations did you all have here about how specific you could get about winking to Walt and Jesse's true operation? Was there one joke that you all liked but you had to dial back because this was a PopCorners commercial?
Well, one of the things I threw out there — in one of the takes when Jesse is eating the PopCorners, I say, "No, Jesse, we don't eat our own product." And he's just munching down. But no, it was really very closely reminiscent, and Vince Gilligan directed it, so he had his eye on that, and he's very conscientious about that. And we're really proud of it. It's just fun. We hope the fans look at this and smile — just like we were smiling when we did it.
Your past reprisals of Walt have involved a veil of secrecy. You've told us about the private airplane, Jedi hoods, hiding out in an Airbnb, and the NDAs while filming El Camino. What was the greatest security measure that was taken to film this?
It was also very secretive. NDAs were signed. We did our wardrobe calls at our own houses, so we didn't have to be in public. Then we had one day in a studio, and it was very closed down, very private, very secret — and then out in the middle of the desert for the second day. Yeah, I think we pulled it off. I don't think there were too many leaks in our enterprise there.
The commercial winks at such lines as Walt's "It's just basic chemistry" line and Jesse's "I know just the guy to talk to" lines from the pilot, Tuco's "We're going to make a lot of money together," the season 1 finale, and Walt's season 5 demand, "Say My Name." Did you go back and study these scenes that are referenced to help figure out how to play it or mostly rely on muscle memory?
They pulled up the clips from those moments that we were overlaying the new dialogue with the old dialogue. That was for all of us to see — not only was it important for Vince especially, but for us to say, "Well, I was seated there, I was turned halfway, he was hunched over the plate." We were really looking at how we can reenact those moments as carefully as possible. And yeah, it seemed to fit perfectly because of the cooking process. So here we are. I say, "Actually, Jesse, it's just basic ingredients," and that speaks to the simplicity of the PopCorners. It is really kind of a pure snack. It's not this fancy [snack with] all these kind of weird additives, and it's better for you because it's not fried.
And it's not meth, so that's good.
I appreciated it. I was eating the product all day long. [Laughs.]
By the way, which commercial should we consider as canon — the 2015 Esurance commercial in which you played Walter White in a pharmacy or this one?
Oh my gosh! I'm so accustomed to creating something and letting it go. Letting it go and let the audiences determine what they like, what they want, what they favor more than others. I don't really weigh in, I don't read reviews, I don't read incoming social stuff. I just kind of try to outflow and do the best I can and hope that people enjoy it.
Is it fair to say that this won't be the last time fans will see you, Aaron, and Vince working together in some form in the Breaking Bad universe? To paraphrase Heisenberg, "We're only done when I say we're done." So, where do we stand?
April 3rd of this year, so just two months away, was the last day of shooting Breaking Bad [10 years ago]. And when we all stood as a group out there in the middle of the desert, everyone's speaking of what it meant to us. We thought that was going to be the last time we ever did those characters. And then we had another opportunity in the El Camino movie, and then it was like, "Oh! So it might not be the last." So we've stopped saying, "This is the last time we're ever going to do this." Who knows? It could be. I'm not sure, but... you know, we'll just leave it to the fates.
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