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[Warning: Spoilers ahead for those not caught up on Breaking Bad.]
It’s a big week for Breaking Bad‘s Betsy Brandt, who celebrated the AMC show’s first outstanding drama series win at the Primetime Emmys and saw her new project, NBC’s The Michael J. Fox Show, premiere Thursday night.
Ahead of Breaking Bad’s series finale Sunday, Brandt (Marie Schrader) tells The Hollywood Reporter that she still hasn’t watched one of the show’s most talked-about scenes, which shows her onscreen husband, Hank (Dean Norris) executed by Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen). She says she didn’t want to be on location when the scene was shot either, partly because it would have been too painful to witness.
“I had to leave the room and make noise because I didn’t want to hear it either,” Brandt says of watching the episode titled “Ozymandias.” “I saw Dean the day before the Emmys, and I told him, ‘I get that it’s an imaginary world that we live in when we’re on the show, but it just breaks my heart that Hank’s not alive in it.’ “
She says her last scene with Norris was her half of the phone call between Hank and Marie before he is killed.
“[Afterwards] we both cried and told each other we loved each other,” Brandt says. “I remember I touched his head and said, ‘Thank you for these six years and everything you’ve given me.’ “
Find THR‘s full conversation with Brandt below, where she reveals her wish for the finale, whether she thinks there is hope for Marie’s relationship with Skyler and what her hardest day on set was.
What did the show’s Emmy win mean for you?
I told Vince [Gilligan] this: Every year I visualize him up there accepting. When I imagined it, I’d be sitting in the audience. But when it happened and I was up there, I couldn’t hear a word he said. I was just really happy for our whole family to be up there together.
It’s been a very tough season for Marie. As an actress, what’s it like doing those hard emotional scenes?
Actresses love that. But it does take its toll on you. There were times in these last eight episodes when I felt wiped out, but in a good way. I was very happy to go to a comedy afterward.
After seeing Marie go through all of this stuff, it was kind of comforting to see your face on a Billboard next to Michael J. Fox.
I will say, The Michael J. Fox Show is funnier than Breaking Bad — not that Breaking Bad isn’t funny, but this is funnier and slightly less violent.
On the Breaking Bad Insider podcast, you and Anna Gunn got very emotional talking about the scene in which Marie confronts Skyler about her role in Walt’s empire. What was shooting that like?
It’s so sad, because I loved their relationship and how they were always there for each other. They would stand by each other no matter what — and that’s gone forever.
Is there any hope for their relationship?
I think there would be the possibility they could have some contact — if they both survive [the show]. Even right after Marie found out Skyler knew about all of this before Hank was shot, if Skyler had walked into the pool again, she would have thrown her a life preserver.
What was the last scene you shot with Dean Norris like?
I love him so much. His part of the phone call was out in To’hajiilee, and I couldn’t be there when he was shot. I felt I would have been a distraction. And because we’re not inside, I don’t know how I could have done the off-camera for him. But he did off-camera for me at the Schrader house. After, I went up to him and said thank you, and he thanked me. We both cried and told each other we loved each other. He’s one of the sweetest people in the world. I remember I touched his head and said, “Thank you for these six years and everything you’ve given me.”
What’s something you took away from working with Dean?
I swear he’s made me a better actor. I think back to season one, the intervention scene, which is one of my favorites on the show. He upped my game that day. [After wrapping on our last day together] I gave him a painting of a baby Hank. There’s an artist who did these drawings of toddler versions of Walt, Jesse, Saul and Hank. I bought baby Hank and gave it to Dean that day. I think we had some bourbon in my trailer that night after we both finished.
Given your close working relationship, what was it like seeing Hank die onscreen?
I couldn’t watch that moment in that scene. I had to leave the room and make noise because I didn’t want to hear it either. I saw Dean the day before the Emmys, and I told him, “I get that it’s an imaginary world that we live in when we’re on the show, but it just breaks my heart that Hank’s not alive in it.” What a beautiful character, and I just love what Dean did with him. Even though I’m so pissed at Walt, I want them all to survive. It’s totally Pollyanna, but I would love a happy ending.
There’s something about Marie that always seemed very real, even back in season one. What was that?
She’s the difficult person in the family! Everybody has that person. She’s not a bad person, so you can’t hate her. She loves everyone and would do anything for them, but she’s just kind of immature in a lot of ways, yet in a lot of ways she’s the most mature one and the voice of reason.
Do you have a favorite memory from these last eight episodes?
Awkward guacamole. That was one of my favorite moments ever, but also one of my hardest days on the show. To say that to Bryan [Cranston] [“Why don’t you kill yourself, Walt? Just kill yourself.”]. [Afterwards] I just started crying. I said to Bryan, “Can I hug you? I hate looking you in the eye and saying that and meaning it.” Because I meant it when I said it. It made me physically sick. We were in this restaurant, and after, we all had margaritas together. The next morning, I flew to New York to work on The Michael J. Fox Show.
That must have been tiring.
I worked on both shows for a while. It was crazy, but it was great. I feel like I can maintain anything for a small period of time — especially for projects that I love.
How has working on The Michael J. Fox Show been?
It’s a dream job. After Breaking Bad, I couldn’t see myself liking anything nearly as much. So it was a very, very pleasant surprise to land on another job that great so quickly.
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