Breaking Bad is one of the most iconic TV series to ever grace the small screen. It featured an all-star cast of amazing actors, both known and unknown, playing really compelling characters. While it might be tough to imagine the series with any other actors, it’s always interesting to consider how a popular series could be made different with new actors.
Maybe it’s by retro-casting, determining who might play the key characters if the show were made in a previous decade. Or maybe, it’s about future-casting an older show with a modern-day cast. But with a show like Breaking Bad, wouldn’t it be interesting to see how the series might look with an all-Black cast?
Walter White: Mahershala Ali
For anyone to take on the iconic role of Walter White that Bryan Cranston brought to life, they would have to be a seriously versatile and talented actor. And Mahershala Ali’s lengthy resume and countless accolades prove that he has the skill to pull this off.
Given his wide breadth of roles to date, many of which have garnered him prestigious awards, Ali would be the perfect choice to make the character just as memorable as Cranston did.
Skyler White: Regina King
With an Academy Award and four Emmy Awards to her name, King is one of the best actors of this generation. And she could pull off playing a character like Skyler, who ended up becoming one of the least liked characters in the series.
Could she add another layer to the character, originally played by Anna Gunn, that might reinvent Skyler in a more likable way? Possibly. Regardless, King has played people from all walks of life, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see her find a way to pull off playing Skyler as someone fans both sympathize with and loathe.
Jesse Pinkman: Stephan James
James impressed with his roles in the movie If Beale Street Could Talk and the Amazon Prime Video series Homecoming. He is mesmerizing in every role, so he would be up for the job of tackling a role like Jesse.
While James is already in his late 20s, he could pull off the character of Pinkman, a high school dropout and small-time drug dealer who is both tragic and hilariously lovable. There would have to be great chemistry between this actor and Ali, just like there was between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. And while the two have not yet worked together, James is a rising star, and Ali an established veteran just like the dynamic between Cranston and Paul was when Breaking Bad began.
Marie Schrader: Jurnee Smollett
A child actor, Smollett knows the business and has played a variety of different characters, both on television and in movies. Most notable of late for series like Friday Night Lights and True Blood, she currently stars in HBO supernatural horror drama Lovecraft Country.
The character of Marie, originally played by Betsy Brandt, was a minor one with some puzzling storylines that made little sense. But Smollett would be a good option for the kleptomaniac wife of a DEA agent who meddles in her sister’s life.
Walter White, Jr.: Niles Fitch
Much like Skyler, many fans disliked Walter White, Jr. (RJ Mitte), mostly due to the odd storylines that saw him doing ridiculous things like demanding he be referred to by the name Flynn (though it was understandable since he wanted to distance himself from his father.) Plus, he was angry with Walter White, and fans seemed to be on White’s side.
Fitch, best known for playing the teenage version of Randall Pearson on NBC series This Is Us, has an innocence about him that would allow him to pull of White, Jr., including both the vulnerable side and the angry and moody streak that perfectly represents a typical teenager – especially one who discovers his father is a dangerous criminal.
Hank Schrader: Shemar Moore
Hank (Dean Norris) was high energy, corny at times, but was a by-the-book DEA agent who did whatever it took to get the job done. And his focus was taking down drug kingpins and empires.
Moore is no stranger to playing law enforcement, having done so for more than a decade on Criminal Minds, then currently on S.W.A.T. So, playing yet another member of law enforcement wouldn’t be a stretch for him. But taking on the role of a man as loud and sometimes obnoxious as Hank would be a challenge that might allow the actor to show his versatility.
Saul Goodman: Terrence Howard
Saul Goodman was a breakout character from the show, which is why it’s no surprise that actor Bob Odenkirk got his own spin-off prequel series, Better Call Saul, following the end of Breaking Bad. Brash, animated, and sleazy, Saul was a charming, likable con man.
Terrence Howard has played a variety of characters that all demonstrate how well he could portray Saul, from loud ones to con men, charming guys, good guys, and bad. He’d be absolutely perfect for the role.
Mike Ehrmantraut: Samuel L. Jackson
Mike Ehrmantraut, played by Jonathan Banks, was another popular character from the show who has a main role on the spin-off Better Call Saul. A former crooked police officer, he lives with the guilt of the death of his son, with his sole focus in life on making sure his daughter-in-law and granddaughter are taken care of. But don’t be fooled: he is a vicious man who might have good intentions but isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty to achieve them.
That describes some of Jackson’s most iconic characters to a tee, and the veteran actor could put an interesting spin on Mike, who is played as being very calm and calculating in his methods with a selective conscience.
Tio Salamanca: Jamie Foxx
While Jamie Foxx was initially known as a comedian thanks to his early role as a cast member on sketch comedy series In Living Color, he has since proven himself to be a really talented dramatic actor. While Tio Salamanca was only shown disabled and in a wheelchair in Breaking Bad, more of his story as a once-powerful drug kingpin was told in the spin-off series Better Call Saul.
While Mark Margolis did a brilliant job of portraying Salamanca in both, getting to display more of his acting chops in Better Call Saul, he had a pivotal role in the show. The character has to convey a lot of emotion without ever uttering a word. And if any actor can pull that off, it’s Foxx.
Todd Alquist: Michael Ealy
Some actors are typecast, and with Ealy, many of his roles have seen him playing the bad guy. From serial killers to psychopaths, murderers, and terrifying figures, he’s often seen in such roles. He even once played an android in Almost Human who had to display artificial emotions.
So the character of the psychopathic, cruel, remorseless Todd would be perfect for Ealy. It’s a character type with which he’s already familiar, and he’d easily be convincing in the role, which was originally played by Jesse Plemons in both the series and the spin-off movie El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story.