Several prominent actors featured in Breaking Bad had previous roles on The X-Files, including some of the leading stars. Besides some of the faces in front of the camera, both shows had a commonality with creative mastermind Vince Gilligan. The X-Files‘ original run ended six years before Breaking Bad debuted on AMC in 2008.
The X-Files was created by Chris Carter and followed FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as the pair investigated cases that involved the paranormal. The series, which debuted in 1993, starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as the leads and instantly became a huge hit. Along the way, Gilligan served as a writer and producer on the series. He also co-created the short-lived spinoff, The Lone Gunmen, in 2001. Following his time on The X-Files, Gilligan focused on a solo project that ended up being the highly acclaimed series, Breaking Bad.
Since Breaking Bad premiered in 2008, Gilligan also launched the spinoff, Better Call Saul, as well as a sequel movie, El Camino. The creator, writer, and director learned a lot while working on The X-Files and he spent time honoring his past through references, Easter eggs, and special nods. Gilligan also reunited with some actors who worked on The X-Files and hired them for Breaking Bad. Here’s every Breaking Bad actor who once appeared on The X-Files.
Before Bryan Cranston transformed into Heisenberg for Breaking Bad, he starred in a very memorable episode of The X-Files written by Gilligan. Cranston played Patrick Garland Crump in the season 6 episode “Drive.” The character was experiencing extreme pain caused by electromagnetic experiments and wound up kidnapping Mulder. He tried to drive west to alleviate the pain, but his head later exploded before Scully could save him.
Aaron Paul spent five years working on Breaking Bad before reprising his role as Jesse Pinkman for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, but that wasn’t the first time he worked on a Gilligan project. The actor portrayed David “Winky” Winkle in The X-Files season 9 episode, “Lord of the Flies.” Winky was the leader of a group of friends who filmed dangerous stunts for a TV show. Paul’s work on the episode helped him get cast on Breaking Bad nearly seven years later.
In 1995, Dean Norris portrayed U.S. Marshal Tapia in a season 2 episode of The X-Files. When a deadly contagion began to spread, Mulder and Scully were enlisted to help U.S. Marshals in tracking down the infected. Norris went on to play another government employee with his role as DEA agent Hank Schrader in Breaking Bad. Hank was the brother-in-law of Walt, who ended up getting killed when trying to take down his relative.
Michael Shamus Wiles
Michael Shamus Wiles portrayed George Merkert in 12 episodes of Breaking Bad. The character was the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) of the Albuquerque DEA Field Office, making him the boss of Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez. Before that, Wiles played the Black-Haired Man on multiple episodes of The X-Files as well as the 1998 movie. He served as an operative to the Cigarette-Smoking Man and had multiple run-ins with Mulder and Scully.
Other Breaking Bad Alums That Had Roles In The X-Files
Michael Bowen: The actor who played Jack Welker, the leader of the white supremacists on Breaking Bad, first portrayed the blind exterminator, Dwight Cooper, targeting drug dealers on The X-Files.
John Koyama: Jesse’s former meth partner and the cousin of Krazy-8, Emilio, on Breaking Bad once worked as a stunt performer on The X-Files.
Raymond Cruz: The actor played Eladio Buente on The X-Files went on to portray unhinged drug lord, Tuco Salamanca in Breaking Bad.
Javier Grajeda: After playing a desk sergeant in The X-Files, Grajeda joined Breaking Bad as Juan Bolsa, a role he reprised for Better Call Saul.
Danny Trejo: Juan Bolsa’s drug runner and DEA informant, Tortuga, on Breaking Bad also played the killer, Cesar Ocumpo, in The X-Files season 8.
Dale Dickey: Before portraying Spooge’s drug addict wife in Breaking Bad season 2, Dickey played a game warden in The X-Files season 8 finale.
Dan Desmond: The actor played Harry Odell in The X-Files episode loosely based on Tetsuo: The Iron Man before appearing as Mr. and Mrs. Pinkman’s attorney, Mr. Gardiner, in Breaking Bad.
Jim Beaver: After portraying a coroner in The X-Files, Beaver moved on to play Lawson, an arms dealer seen in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.