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Why Bryan Cranston Thinks Breaking Bad Wouldn't Have Worked As Film

Breaking Bad is as close as you're going to get to a perfect TV show. The series knew how to perfectly balance heart-wrenching drama with moments of utter hilarity. It made for captivating television every week as fans watched an average guy, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), attempt to pay for his medical treatment by making and selling meth. As the series continues, it becomes clear that Walter isn't just in it to provide a nest egg for his loved ones: he genuinely likes the power that comes with making the best meth in the world. 

Breaking Bad played a critical role in ushering in the Golden Age of Television. It showed what kinds of stories you could tell in this medium, and when you look at the dramas that have come out in the years since the show endedBreaking Bad's influence can't be overstated. While movies used to have more prestige associated with them, the scales have shifted in the last decade. At one point in time, it's conceivable that some producer somewhere would have wanted to make Breaking Bad a film, rather than a TV show, to capitalize on the immense talent that went into it. 

That's precisely what Bryan Cranston ruminated on in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, while promoting his new series Your Honor. It's his first time leading a TV show since Breaking Bad ended, and the conversation allowed him to explain why Walter White's story could have only been properly told through the medium of television. 

Bryan Cranston says if Breaking Bad was a movie it would be "not as entertaining or rewarding"

Breaking Bad benefitted immensely from its calculated pace. The show had no problem taking its time, showing Walter White as a man merely flirting with darkness, initially, until he completely breaks bad and actually seems to enjoy the depravity he's gotten himself into. Bryan Cranston believes that this journey would only be possible through episodic storytelling, as opposed to trying to cram everything into a two-hour movie.  

"Breaking Bad would have made a terrible movie," Cranston said. "Why? Well, because you would have to truncate all the development that Walter White needed to make this turn from a good person to a bad person. You would miss so many nuances and detail that I think it would be not only not as entertaining or rewarding, but I think it would have had a negative impact on the story. It's asking too much to tell that story in two hours."

It's hard to imagine what the five seasons of Breaking Bad would look like as a single movie. It likely would've needed to jump right into the meat of the story, preventing us from seeing what a decent man Walter was at the start. Part of what made the show so compelling was that we got to spend time with Walter in seasons 1 and 2, when he was still on the fence about how far he wanted to take his meth empire. It's a tragedy once we get to the final season, at which point we don't even recognize Walter from the man he was, eventually causing viewers to stop rooting for him entirely

Breaking Bad likely wouldn't have had the same cultural impact if it was just a movie. Besides, with a TV series, we got the chance to spend numerous years with Walt, Jesse, and the rest of these characters, as opposed to just a few hours.