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‘Breaking Bad’ Almost Had John Cusack Star as Walter White

Breaking Bad John Cusack
AMC / United Artists

With the fifth (and sadly final) season of ‘Breaking Bad‘ unfolding before our very eyes and following the show’s first successful visit to Comic-Con 2012, we’re all basking in the glory of having Walter White grace our television screens once more. However, did you know that Bryan Cranston’s iconic portrayal wasn’t AMC’s first choice for the role? In fact, two Hollywood stars nearly took it, and you’ll never believe who was almost the one who knocks.

According to a new story from The Hollywood Reporter, neither AMC nor production company Sony Pictures Television were too keen on Bryan Cranston playing the role of Walter White when series creator Vince Gilligan first pitched ‘Breaking Bad.’ All they could think about was his comic portrayal of patriarch Hal from ‘Malcolm in the Middle.’ Instead, the network shot for bigger stars, including John Cusack and Matthew Broderick, who both ultimately passed on the part!

Gilligan had been interested in working with Cranston again following a guest turn in a 1998 ‘The X-Files’ episode as a man dying of radiation exposure, but executives initially balked. “We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in ‘Malcolm in the Middle,’” said one former executive. “We were like, ‘Really? Isn’t there anybody else?’” As a reminder, Cranston has now won three (count ‘em) Emmys for the role.

In fact, the part of Walter White had initially been written as a 40-year-old character, to Cranston’s now 56, but once Gilligan started swaying minds by highlighting Cranston’s ‘X-Files’ performance, the part was re-written. “We pushed for him to be 50 because at 40 he’s a little too young to have this crisis,” former AMC Production Vice President Vlad Wolynetz said. “It was just so much more impactful to have him a little bit older.”

What say you? Are you shocked by what might have been for ‘Breaking Bad’? Do you think the show would have been as successful — its fifth season premiere being the show’s highest-rated episode yet — with John Cusack or Matthew Broderick in the lead? Sound off in the comments below, and tell us what you think of the new season!

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