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Breaking Bad: How Bryan Cranston Escaped Walt Off-Set

Bryan Cranston burst onto the scene in 2008, skyrocketing to ever-lasting fame for his portrayal of Walter White in "Breaking Bad." Through the show's five seasons, audiences watched in awe as he slowly descended from Mr. White, the family-man chemistry teacher, to Heisenberg, the criminal drug kingpin, leaving a trail of bodies behind. Naturally, an actor playing such an evil character wouldn't want to bring that home with him, so Cranston created a routine to ensure Walt stayed on set.

"By the end of the day, when I take off Walt's wardrobe and go home," Cranston answered during an AMC-hosted Q&A, "I go home. I take a nice, hot wet towel, and I take off all my makeup, and that helps me kind of shed the character and let it go. Drop the clothes, and I walk away because I really don't want to take Walt home with me. I mean, would you?"

Cranston made it a point not to play the character outside of the "Breaking Bad" set, forgoing the method-acting route many actors go, especially with a character as complex as Walter. While he was sporting the iconic bald head and goatee, Cranston would wear hats to stay incognito in public, allowing him to observe human nature to perfect his acting, observing instead of being observed, as he puts it.

Bryan Cranston found inspiration for Walter White from many sources

In the same Q&A, a fan asked Bryan Cranston where he found inspiration for Walter White's two personalities, the humble chemistry teacher and the "total badass" of Heisenberg. "What I've learned about people in this," the actor replied, "is that given the right set of circumstances, even the meekest person, the most milk toast person, can be dangerous." He continued, relating Walter's situation to the animal kingdom, saying he's like a "seemingly harmless animal" that comes out fighting when cornered. Given that he only has two years to live, Walt's got nothing to lose as he fights for his family's health and safety, going all-in on that battle.

Another source of inspiration, is everyday people. In the Q&A, Cranston revealed how much he enjoys observing people, believing it's essential for all actors to watch and learn. "I'll go to a coffee shop or something, and if people are arguing," he said. "I'll get a newspaper, and I'll just watch them over the newspaper so I witness their behavior."

Wherever Cranston found inspiration, he was clearly onto something, as his portrayal of Walter White has gone down as one of the best in TV history. His performance landed him six out of the 16 Emmys "Breaking Bad" won, so his methods of observing real-life individuals to craft his on-screen character may warrant studying on its own.