RJ Mitte Talks BREAKING BAD, Closing Out Character Stories, How the Show Changed His Life, and Bringing the Human Side of Cerebral Palsy to TV Audiences

     August 26, 2013

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One of the darkest and most ambitious series in TV history, Breaking Bad will always be remembered as one of the best TV dramas, ever.  As the clock ticks closer to its final episode on September 29th, everyone is anxiously waiting to see how things turn out in the highly anticipated series conclusion.

During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, actor RJ Mitte (who plays Walter White, Jr.) talked about how surprised he was when he found out how the series would conclude, that all of the characters’ stories close so well, how sad it was to have it all come to an end, how his whole life changed when he became a part of the show, the props he got to take home, bringing the human side of cerebral palsy to a television audience, and his favorite episode in the run of the series.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

breaking-bad-rj-mitteCollider:  How much did you know, going into the final episodes?  Did you know anything, at all?

RJ MITTE:  There’s so much that happens in these last episodes.  It’s really incredible.  These final episodes are so amazing.  What (show creator) Vince [Gilligan] has brought, and everyone has brought, is really a unique and very humbling experience, in one way or another.  I love to see everyone react.  Nothing really compares to when you walk onto a stage at Comic-Con and 6,500 people are there for your show.  That’s really an amazing experience.  Comic-Con has really become important to shows and to movies ‘cause that’s where the fans are.  I know that it’s getting a little mainstream for a lot of people, but there are still so many awesome things. 

When you found out how the series would end and how things would turn out for your character, what was your reaction? 

MITTE:  You know, I really was surprised.  What happens at the end of this show is truly amazing.  What Vince and the writers have created is unbelievable.  All of the characters end and their stories close so well, and the story, in general, closes so well that I just want people to see it.  I want people to see what I’ve seen and to know what I know.  It’s one of those things that eats me inside ‘cause I just want to be like, “Oh, my god, you have no idea!”  What the cast, and everyone who has been a part of this show, has brought is unbelievable.  It truly is an unbelievable ending to an unbelievable show.  This show is so incredible.  What it brings to light and brings to life is so insanely amazing, in every way possible.  From the beginning to this end, it is, to me, one of the best shows on television.  I’ve loved every minute.  I may not watch it as much as I probably should.  If I hear me or see me, I walk out of the room.  But, reading the scripts was just unbelievable.  The art, the chemistry and everything that happens in the scripts really is wild.

When you’re part of something that everybody says is one of the best dramas that’s ever been on television, is it hard to be excited and enjoy every moment, when you know it’s the last few episodes? 

MITTE:  It was very sad.  People are like, “Oh, it must have been sad,” and I’m like, “Yes, it’s sad!  What do you think?!  We’ve been working on this show for seven years!”  I spent my whole teenage life on this show.  Yes, it’s sad, but how this finale is, how everything comes together, and how everything took place to get to these moments is truly amazing.  Nothing will ever compare to what Breaking Bad has given me, in knowledge and know-how and capability.  It really is awesome.  I will continue to work, but nothing will compare to the ensemble, the crew, the scripts, and everything.  Nothing will compare to what we brought.

When you think back about this experience, what are the things that you think will stand out the most for you?

MITTE:  My whole life changed when I became a part of this show, and who I am changed when I became a part of this show, and it changed for the better.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I didn’t know where I wanted to go.  I didn’t have a clue what direction I wanted to take.  And this opened that.  This put me in the direction I want to go in.  This put me in the direction of who I want to be.  Bryan [Cranston] and everyone has taught me so much about who I am and who I should be and how I should be, and why I am who I am today.  This show created who I am.  It really did.  I spent my whole teenage life on Breaking Bad.  The most important years of someone’s life, I spent them working on this show, and I loved every minute of it.  

rj-mitte-breaking-badDid you get to take any props home with you?

MITTE:  I have my crutches.  I took my crutches home.  I have a pair of shoes.  I have the backs of my [cast] chairs.  I have those, and I will keep those forever.  There’s an upside and there’s a downside for having a prop for seven years.  It’s very interesting to have, for such a long period of time, but when you’re done with it, you get to keep it.  It becomes who you are.  It becomes a part of your life.  I spent six months out of the year on crutches.

What’s it been like to bring your physical disability to audiences who might not have been familiar with the human side of it?

MITTE:  People ask me, “What’s it like to have a disability on a TV show?,” and I’m like, “What you see is what you get.”  It’s part of someone’s life.  It’s part of who they are.  Physical element or not, you just incorporate it into who that person is.  It’s rooted to who they are.  I grew up with my CP (cerebral palsy).  I grew up dealing with braces and casts and crutches, when I was a kid.  Growing out of that, and then having to go back into that, was very eye-opening.  It was a definitely a blessing to be able to look back at what I’ve overcome, what I’ve achieved, where I could be now and where I am.  Being Walt, Jr. opened so many doors, not just for me, but for everyone in the disabled community.  It really was important that I got that right.  One of my main things was that I wanted to make sure Walt, Jr. was done right.  I’m happy with how I played it.  I think it’s a real blessing.  It really is one of the most amazing experiences you can have, when you’re in the position that I was in.  I am who I am today because of Walt, Jr. and because of the show.  I’m telling you now, I would not be an actor.  I would definitely not be in this business that I love so much.  When you have an audience, and you have people who want to see your character and want to see you, it’s really amazing.  The way Walt, Jr. comes across and the way he’s played out, you want to just love him and root for him.  People really root for Walt, Jr., and it’s awesome.  

When you work on something of this quality, is it difficult to find something that is as creatively fulfilling? 

breaking-bad-cast-season-5MITTE:  You know, it is.  It really is hard.  You’ve always gotta keep your eyes open and expect the unexpected.

Do you have a favorite episode or storyline, from the run of the series?

MITTE:  Yeah, I love the pilot.  The pilot was definitely a highlight of my life.  My first scene was a major scene, and I was so happy to be a part of this show.  It was when we were in the department store, and it was one of my first major scenes with Bryan [Cranston] and Anna [Gunn].  It was awesome.  It truly was an amazing experience that can never be taken away.  Every scene that I’ve had, I’ve loved.  What this show has brought to me, and what this show has brought to everyone, is the role of a lifetime.  For me, it was definitely an amazing and altering experience to bring this character to life.  The show wouldn’t be the same without any of these characters. 

The final episodes of Breaking Bad are airing on Sunday nights on AMC.

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