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Shortly after joining the cast of Breaking Bad last year, Laura Fraser found herself with a gun to her head. Her character, Lydia, had gotten on Mike’s (Jonathan Banks) bad side, and she barely managed to survive his wrath.
Lydia stayed alive by helping Walter (Bryan Cranston), Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Mike steal 1,000 gallons of methylamine in a train heist. Later, she helped Walt set up shop in Eastern Europe.
If last year Lydia got deeper into the meth trade because she had a gun to her head, in the second half she is a more willing participant, Fraser tells The Hollywood Reporter.
STORY: ‘Breaking Bad’ Finale: 5 Ways to Prepare for the End
“Lydia is becoming less brittle, and more brutal and cold and calculating — and choosing to be where she is rather than to be flung into the situation,” Fraser says. “She’s becoming more comfortable in meth land.”
There’s not much else she could say about the upcoming final eight episodes of the AMC hit, which returns Sunday. But she says she’s happy where her character ends up.
“I couldn’t have wished for a better, more appropriate ending for Lydia, whatever that may be.”
Fraser admits to being a little intimidated by Banks during her early scenes with him, before she learned “how funny” and “what a gentlemen he is.”
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“He was kind of dark and intimidating and growly. I was terrified,” Fraser says of shooting their first scene together, in which Lydia asked Mike to kill his men in prison.
Banks, whose character suffered an untimely death at the hands of Walt in last year’s penultimate episode, was honored with a supporting actor Emmy nomination for his performance. He’s up against Paul, a two-time winner in the category, and when pressed for a favorite, Fraser gamely admits she’s rooting for Banks.
“Aaron’s already got two, so give it to Jonathan,” Fraser says. “It’s time.”
Below, find more from our conversation with the Scotish actress — where she spills on working with Cranston (“It’s annoying actually how amazing he is”), the secrecy surrounding the final scripts and all the horseplay that took place on the Albuquerque set.
The Hollywood Reporter: Where do we pick up with Lydia in this new season?
Laura Fraser: When we left last season, Lydia was in cahoots with Walt. They expanded into Eastern Europe and Lydia spotted a gap in the market there, and they’ve gone into business together. That’s proven to be very lucrative. This season, I feel like Lydia is becoming less brittle and more brutal and cold and calculating and choosing to be where she is rather than to be flung into the situation.
She’s actually starting to — I don’t know whether she’s enjoying it, but she’s becoming more comfortable in meth land.
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THR: Do you have a favorite character for Lydia to play against?
Fraser: I really liked doing the scene in the first part of season five with Mike and Walt and Jesse all together [in the underground bunker, where the men are deciding whether to kill her or not]. They all had something to say, and they were all disgusted with Lydia, and she’s fighting for her life. It was the three of them against me. I was terrified doing it but I also got a real thrill out of it.
THR: You are from Scotland but live in upstate New York. Were you aware of Breaking Bad before you got the part?
Fraser: I was aware of Breaking Bad, for sure, but I hadn’t seen it. Then I got the part and I was too scared to watch it because I knew it was such a massive show and I didn’t want to intimidate myself more than I already was. I went on and did my first episode and Jonathan Banks said “You haven’t seen the show? What is wrong with you? Go and watch it and come back to me.” I started watching it and I couldn’t stop. I watched everything in three of four days. My life just paused.
THR: What about your friends back in Scotland? Did they know what it was?
Fraser: The show doesn’t air anywhere there, apart from now it’s on Netflix. But everybody watches it illegally there. Everyone has seen it in the U.K. and Ireland and Europe. They all watch it. Tons of my friends were really shocked that I was in it. It seemed totally incongruous. Like “You’re in Breaking Bad? What?! You’re in Breaking Bad!?”
THR: I’ve read Jonathan Banks intimidated you a bit before you knew him. What was the first scene with him like?
Fraser: He was kind of dark and intimidating and growly. I was terrified. And then afterwards I got to know him a little bit and saw how lovely and what a gentleman he is and how funny he is. But yeah, I was pretty much shaking. I didn’t have to act that nervous, I was genuinely nervous. The first scene I did with him was in the diner where I was telling him to off all of his guys.
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THR: Not to put you on a spot, but Aaron Paul and Jonathan Banks are both nominated for Emmys. Do you have a favorite?
Fraser: Aaron’s already got two, so give it to Jonathan. It’s time.
THR: You were at the premiere in L.A. What was the general feeling amongst your costars?
Fraser: Everyone was jubilant and a little bit tipsy on the champagne they were drinking in the RV.
THR: What sense did you have from the cast on set while shooting the final episodes?
Fraser: Toward the end, they were dropping like flies. People were leaving. I don’t mean the characters — I mean the actors — people coming and going. Each time it was a smaller and smaller cast. It was quite an emotional time. The cast and crew, it was kind of the feeling of the last day of school, like of high school. Like, “God this is it. A new era.”
THR: What did you think when you saw where your character ends up?
Fraser: I feel like it’s pristinely perfect. The character of Lydia has just been astonishing. The writing is amazing. It’s blown me away. I couldn’t have wished for a better, more appropriate ending for Lydia, whatever that may be.
PHOTOS: What’s Next for Stars of Big TV Shows Ending This Year
THR: Do you still carry Lydia with you or have you put her aside?
Fraser: She needs to die. She needs to go (laughs). Unfortunately a little bit of her is with me. A little bit of that highly strung maniac is still with me.
THR: Was there any horseplay or joking around on set?
Fraser: There were periods toward the end of the day when people would get the giggles. Aaron Paul had the giggles the most. At one point we were doing a scene and Walt comes over and instead of saying his line to me, he just goes “so, I was just wondering if you’d like to go for a drink after, after work?” And the scene was on me, and I’m like, “I’m supposed to react as Lydia like this?”.
THR: Lydia is so humorless, but there are funny moments from her in the show. Are you aware of that as you play her?
Fraser: She’s a hoot but has no idea people would find her amusing. I think she takes herself extremely seriously. She would be horrified to find people laughing at her.
THR: What was working with Bryan Cranston like as a director on the season premiere?
Fraser: He’s just brilliant at everything. I don’t know what he’s not good at. He’s just so easygoing and helpful and supportive. It’s annoying actually how amazing he is.
THR: There’s so much secrecy surrounding the show. How much information were you privy to?
Fraser: I got all the scripts this season. Some of them were redacted, like an FBI document with pages and pages of blackness. I found out what was in those pages. If you wanted to read the redacted stuff you went into the office and read it on one computer.
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