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Bryan Cranston Played Vince Gilligan Like A Fiddle When Striking A Deal For Breaking Bad

There's no question that Bryan Cranston's role in "Breaking Bad" changed his life forever. Known primarily as a comedic actor for his roles in "Seinfeld" and later "Malcolm in the Middle," "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan famously cast Cranston as the series lead due to their past experience working together on "The X-Files" — in which Cranston impressed Gilligan by playing a sympathetic villain that he "needed the audience to feel bad for him when he died" (via The New York Times).

The rest is history: Bryan Cranston's performance as Walter White has been lauded as perhaps the greatest to ever grace the small screen, and throughout the series' five-season run, Cranston earned four Emmy awards for outstanding lead actor in a drama series (via IMDb). Nearly a decade after the finale of "Breaking Bad," Cranston's career continues to be defined by his once-in-a-lifetime performance as Walter White — so much so that he's even reprising the role for a PopCorners Super Bowl Commercial this weekend.

There's no question that Cranston's role in "Breaking Bad" catapulted him into the upper echelon of acting royalty, which is why it might surprise some fans to learn that Cranston actually strung Vince Gilligan along when he was initially offered the role.

Cranston pretended he wasn't interested when the offer came in

While speaking to ACMI about the beginning of "Breaking Bad," director and show creator Vince Gilligan admitted that he actually wrote the pilot episode with Bryan Cranston in mind; and that it was Cranston who actually toyed with him during the hiring process, not the other way around.

"I remember he strung us along a little bit. Which is, you know, good gamesmanship when you're trying to make a deal in Hollywood," admitted Gilligan. "He said, 'yeah, good script, I like it. I've got this other thing I'm thinking of doing. There's a pilot called 'Nurses' on Fox, and I'm getting a lot of pressure to do that." Gilligan described how Cranston asserted that "Nurses" would be paying him a lot of money, which is pretty ironic, given the immense success of "Breaking Bad."

Gilligan smiled as he recalled all the interviews that Cranston gave after the show's success, in which Cranston admitted just how desperately he wanted the role. Vince Gilligan finished by praising Cranston's ability as an actor, jokingly saying that "he played us good" by pretending not to be interested in the role that would change his life forever.