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'Breaking Bad's' 'Disappearer' on His Secret Role: Even My Family Didn't Know (Q&A)

Robert Forster tells THR the show's producers went to great lengths to keep his guest spot a surprise, saying he hopped a plane to Albuquerque and "nobody knew where I was going."

Robert Forster Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad - H 2013
Ursula Coyote / AMC
Robert Forster, left, and Bryan Cranston

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Sunday's episode of Breaking Bad, "Granite State."

Breaking Bad pulled a fast one on viewers Sunday, introducing a meaty character in its penultimate episode. Robert Forster played "the disappearer," an expert at setting people up with new identities who had been teased since season 4 but never seen.

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Forster says he got a call from Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, who wrote and directed the episode. The pair told him they'd loved his work in Jackie Brown and pictured his character, bail bondsman Max Cherry, when imagining the disappearer.

"Nobody knew where I was going," Forster tells The Hollywood Reporter of hopping on a plane to shoot his scenes in Albuquerque. "Not even my daughter, who knows everything I do and where I go."

Find THR's full conversation with Forster below, where he discusses meeting Cranston at a poker game and how Jackie Brown may have informed his performance.

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How did Breaking Bad land you for this role?

It came out of left field. I got a call from my agent. They said somebody's going to call you from Breaking Bad. It was Peter Gould and Vince. I got on my phone with them, and they were totally generous with me. They said they'd always liked what I did in Jackie Brown, and they had a character. He's been referred to as the disappearer. They said in their own private conversations they had used my name and asked if I was available. They could not have been nicer to me. What good guys.

How was it kept so secret?

I jumped on a plane to an undisclosed location. Nobody knew where I was going. I went to Albuquerque, of course, where I'd been several times in my career. I went there for one of my earliest movies in 1968 and then again for a TV series in 1974. I spent a few days there with a wonderfully written character -- how much better can you get? Terse and quiet and all the kinds of things that give any actor doing it the kind of credibility that he is hoping for. I always remind people if the material was as good as this was or Jackie Brown or The Descendants for that matter, then the actor can't be bad. They gave me a wonderful, wonderful opportunity to show up in their fabulous show and hit one long.

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So your family didn't know?

Not even my daughter, who knows everything I do and where I go. She handles the office, and so they knew I had done Breaking Bad, but they didn't have a clue as to what I did on the show.

Were you a fan of the show?

Sure, sure. I hadn't seen a lot of middle-year episodes, but I knew Bryan from before he started the show. There's a small actors' poker game Wednesday. [There must be] a list of 100 actors every month. You show up with seven or eight other players and kid around and joke. So we all knew when he started the show. I saw the first season before he had broken totally bad, and I watched a little bit and I sort of lost track of it. As the show has been picking up steam here I was for more aware of it and had seen a lot of episodes since.

This character has been kind of like the boogie man since season 4. What did writer/director Peter Gould tell you about this role?

They told me that the character has been referred to and they gave me just enough information. I didn't have to know much about the show, truthfully, in order to do the role. It's a guy who has a small, quiet side business of putting new identities together and shipping people to places they might not want to be, but they are out of the gate. He's a straight shooter. He'll give you the truth and no horseshit. That I consider to be appealing in a character: No BS.

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You were involved in some really difficult, emotional scenes. How did you get them so right as a guest actor?

It's well written. You got a good architectural design, and you go out there and do it.

Is there any of your Jackie Brown character in this guy?

You bring whoever you are to whatever you do. I was just talking to somebody about [Boardwalk Empire's] Bobby Cannavale. The guy brings himself to each role, but they are credible, they are really terrific.

Anything else you'd like to share about your experience?

All you need to be successful in show business is 50 really lucky breaks. And this is definitely one of them.

E-Mail: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch