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This week’s Breaking Bad episode, titled “Madrigal,” introduces a new character, Lydia, played by Scottish actress Laura Fraser, who is a new face to the show. Fraser has starred in numerous U.K. productions and you may recognize her from the HBO Original Film Iron-Jawed Angels and the feature film A Knight’s Tale. The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Fraser about joining the critically acclaimed hit, where she plays a woman who may play an integral role in the revival of Walt and Jesse’s meth business.
The Hollywood Reporter: How did you come to be cast in the show?
Laura Fraser: I got a scene that’s not from any of the episodes. The character of Lydia was in there but it had nothing to do with anything. It was a four page scene with a couple monologues. I knew it was for Breaking Bad so I worked on it and I sent the tape and the casting director liked the tape and sent it to Vince [Gilligan]. Vince watched it and he liked it so then I got to do the real scene with Mike in the diner. I still didn’t know if it was a real scene cause I’d never seen Breaking Bad. So I did that on tape, they gave me some notes and I did it a third time, and got the job after the third tape. I never met Vince or anyone. I was delighted. I was so thrilled.
So you hadn’t seen the show?
No, I hadn’t seen the show. I’d heard about it of course but they don’t show it in the U.K., where I’m from. I only moved to America recently. I got the job and wondered if I should watch it, if it would make me more nervous because I knew it would be brilliant. It might be a bit intimidating to walk on set. When I got the script for that episode, I didn’t want to have a viewers’ perspective of the world, of the show, I’ll stay in this world that I’m feeling from the page. But then as soon as I watched episode 1, I watched the entire four seasons of the show. I was compelled. So now I’m caught up.
When I got there, and Jonathan Banks said, “Have you not seen the show?” and I said I was too scared to watch it cause I knew it would be brilliant and I didn’t want to jinx myself, he said, “Watch it!” If Jonathan Banks tells you to do something, because he was so mighty to me, I watched it.
We learn that Lydia is or was an associate of Gus Fring and that she can procure one of the essential ingredients for the meth cook. Is Lydia a meth cooker? Or simply supporting her daughter?
Lydia is an extremely highly strung, calculating, enterprising lady. Throughout her life, she’s learned to survive at all costs. She’s figured out tactics and skills along the way.
It’s clear that Gus’ untimely death has rattled Lydia, to the point where she wants to kill all of the crew men who could implicate her and Mike. Can you comment on how Lydia and Mike’s business relationship will move forward?
It’s a very strange experience being on set of Breaking Bad, you never know what’s coming next for your character. I feel like I don’t even know if I’m going to live through the next scene I’m in. It’s exciting to work on. I’ve never played a character like Lydia; we first meet her and she’s already unraveled. Season five sees her attempt to claw her way back through this nervous energy and adrenalin. She’s desperately trying to redeem control of her situation.
What’s been your favorite thing about working on the show?
When I got on set, I got such a lovely welcome. Everyone was so sweet and kind. Michelle MacLaren directed “Madrigal” and I met Bryan [Cranston], Jonathan and Aaron [Paul], and they all work so hard. They don’t take their success for granted. It’s like doing a mini-play each episode. There’s so much dialogue and we shoot so fast. I’ve been in awe of the well-oiled machine because they’re so far into it. It’s like going to dinner with a friend’s family; they’re just a gorgeous family and it’s been a joyful experience. I’ve not met Vince yet. He’s kind of like my Heisenberg, this phantom that everyone speaks about and has invented this whole world but I haven’t met him yet.
Will we find out who the father of Lydia’s daughter is?
I want to know that too! When I went to get my costumes, I said, “Is there a wedding ring?” and there was no wedding ring. I certainly don’t know of one yet. But I definitely don’t have a wedding ring; that was my only clue.
What did you think of the introduction of Lydia into the mix? Hit the comments and share your thoughts.
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