Bryan Cranston is still haunted by Krysten Ritter’s death scene in Breaking Bad and pictured it happening to his real-life daughter.
There are many kinds of fans of Breaking Bad, but we all have something in common: being haunted by various scenes from the acclaimed series. As it turns out, Walter White actor Bryan Cranston is haunted to this day by a scene from the second season where his character lets future Jessica Jones star Krysten Ritter’s character die. In an appearance on the Kelly Clarkson Show, Cranston said that “all of a sudden, her face left and the face of my real daughter showed up, and I was watching my real daughter die.”
While Bryan Cranston has a very personal reason to be haunted by this scene, it is one that has been haunting fans of Breaking Bad for many years. Ritter played a character named Jane Margolis who falls in love with Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman, but her heroin addiction threatens both Jesse’s life and the burgeoning meth operation he has going on with Walter White. After she blackmails Walter and threatens to expose his drug operation, he enters her home only to discover that she is overdosing, and he makes the conscious decision to not flip her over and leaves her to quietly choke to death on her own vomit.
It’s genuinely difficult to watch, and this moment serves as the accidental catalyst for a much larger-scale tragedy later in the season. It turns out that Jane was the daughter of an air traffic controller played by Star Trek legend John de Lancie, and he is still reeling from her death when he returns to work. In his grief and stupor, he makes a horrific error that causes two planes to collide, meaning that Bryan Cranston’s character ended up having to carry the burden of so many other bodies even as he carried the burden of what he had done to both Jane and her father.
Judging from what Bryan Cranston shared with Kelly Clarkson, he knows what it is like to be a fiercely-protective father, and bringing the scene to life where he lets Jane die meant that Cranston had to imagine that he was standing idly by and letting his own daughter die. He was clear that even thinking about that scene still made him choke up. But he understood that this is simply “an emotional risk that actors go through” and that “we have to put ourselves in a position of vulnerability for that to possibly happen.”
Just as Breaking Bad managed to so often straddle the lines between comedy and drama, Kelly Clarkson’s interview with Bryan Cranston had moments of levity to go along with the heavy subject matter of imagining his daughter dying. For example, he dished with her a bit about the special tattoo he received onset during the wrap party for the series. And at one point, he and Rita Wilson even began singing Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” together.
However, the main thrust of the interview was that Bryan Cranston wanted to promote his latest show, Your Honor. That series began in 2020 and, ironically enough, features Cranston as a father guarding secrets about a dead teenager amid a murky background of gang violence. This is what precipitated his emotional anecdote about Breaking Bad, and it just goes to show that Cranston, like his fans, can never fully escape the influence of that groundbreaking show.