John Cusack confirms that he was never up for the role of Walter White in Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston played the chemistry teacher turned drug lord for five seasons of Breaking Bad between 2008 to 2013. Cranston starred alongside Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman), and together, they turned Breaking Bad into one of the most popular TV shows of the 2010s.
While Cranston has become synonymous with the role of Walter White, he wasn’t the only one considered for the role. Gilligan had pushed for Cranston to be cast from the beginning, but due to his comedic past with Malcolm in the Middle, AMC executives weren’t sold on giving him the lead in their drama. It’s been reported over the years that both Matthew Broderick and Cusack had been offered the role in Breaking Bad and turned it down, but Cusack is now saying that’s not the case.
In a recent interview with Variety, Cusack set the record straight on the rumors surrounding him almost being cast in Breaking Bad. Cusack confirmed that he did not turn down the role of Walter White because he wasn’t even offered the role. After expressing how much of a fan he is of both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Cusack wouldn’t even speculate on whether he would have taken the role, saying that Cranston was the best choice. Both of his responses can be read in full below:
“No, I never was, and it was one of those things where I heard it so many times I started to think maybe it was true. And I ran into the creator of ‘Breaking Bad’ [Vince Gilligan], and I said, ‘Am I crazy or did you offer me Walter White? He’s like, ‘No,’”
“I don’t even want to think that because the absolute perfect actor got it. It was the perfect actor for the piece, so like why would you want to take away Bryan Cranston’s performance in that? That would be bad karma.”
While Gilligan and the writers behind Breaking Bad were of course part of the success behind Breaking Bad, there’s no doubt that Cranston also made the show stand out from other dramas. Breaking Bad won sixteen Emmys during it’s run on AMC, four of which are from Cranston winning “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.” Cranston’s acting in Breaking Bad not only helped the series become critically acclaimed, but it also showed viewers that he could master both serious and comedic roles.
After seeing Cranston in the role for five seasons, fans will have trouble imagining anybody else playing Walter White. That being said, Cusack could have also succeeded in the role if he had been offered the part. Cusack had appeared in dozens of diverse roles prior to 2008, but he likely wasn’t considered due to his lack of TV credits. While most people would agree that Cranston was the perfect fit for Walter White, it’s still a mystery as to whether Cusack would have considered playing the role before it was known how big Breaking Bad would become.