Getting it Right and Getting it Wrong: Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte at MCM Birmingham Comic Con

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Since first airing in 2008, AMC’s American crime drama series Breaking Bad has met with huge acclaim from critics and audiences across the world. At this month’s MCM Birmingham Comic Con, hundreds of fans received their very own Breaking Bad Christmas present when they got the chance to meet RJ Mitte, who stars in the show as Walter White Jr (sometimes known as Flynn), the son of protagonist Walter White (Bryan Cranston). On Saturday, excited attendees flocked to the MCM Theatre to ask Mitte questions about his career and his time working on Breaking Bad.

To get things started, the 22-year-old actor spoke about when he had first realised that the show had become a hit. When the Breaking Bad began airing in the U.S, it wasn’t initially very popular.

“People just weren’t that into the idea of a show about a meth manufacturer. Who would have thought it?” RJ laughed. “When season four was complete, we went to Comic Con in San Diego and it was so massive! There were 6000 people in the sitting room and we knew then how much of fan-base the show had developed.”

Yet surprisingly, this didn’t put too much pressure on RJ or the rest of the crew as they already knew they had a great product.

“It was always a very character-driven show. We had an amazing crew of 500, and 12 central main characters and we all loved the scripts we were reading,” he said, going on to recommend that anyone who had watched the show try to read some of the scripts. His own particular favourite was the pilot episode, written by Breaking Bad creator, Vince Gilligan. “I loved how the pilot read,” he went on. “We were working with amazing pieces of literature. Not many scripts are this well written and also come out as well as this did on screen”.

He also said that having such a good product had inspired him to work harder on the show: “If you enjoy what you’re doing, in any job, and you have a good product, then you want to give it your all and have an amazing time doing it.”

Then it was time for the fans to ask their questions. Asked whether he would be featuring in the upcoming Breaking Bad spin-off series, Better Call Saul, he said that sadly, he wouldn’t, because the show was a prequel that would be set too early for him to put in an appearance. Nevertheless, he did share his enthusiasm for the project and encouraged everyone to tune in and watch the premiere on 8th February 2015.

Asked whether there was any character in Breaking Bad that RJ would have liked to share a scene with, he admitted that he would have loved to have had the chance to work with Aaron Paul‘s character Jesse Pinkman and Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen).

“For anyone who doesn’t know, Uncle Jack is this awful white supremacist, but in real life, Michael Bowen is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet,” he said.

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Discussion then moved onto RJ’s relationship with his co-star, Bryan Cranston.

“We had an amazing relationship. We worked together for seven years and the whole cast and crew felt like a family on set,” he said. “My little sister practically grew up on set. When the show started she was 2 and by the time it finished in 2013, she was 9. We all had an amazing family dynamic on set and Bryan and all of the cast and crew helped it stay that way.”

Commenting on the fact that Walter White Jr is known for repeatedly being shown eating breakfast in the show, an audience member wondered whether RJ himself was as into breakfast as his character. RJ replied that he likes bacon, but also pointed out that Walt Jr had only actually eaten breakfast five times in the show, although it seemed like more than that.

“I think audiences gravitated towards the breakfast scenes because it was the only time in the show when no one was being killed or melted or selling meth,” he said. “It was the calmest part of Breaking Bad.”

One curious fan was interested to know what RJ thought of the show’s critically acclaimed ending and whether he would have liked to have seen the story end a different way.

“I loved the ending because Walter White, who committed all these heinous acts, was still able to redeem himself in some way,” RJ replied.

Nevertheless, he did qualify this by reminding the audience that Walter White had killed tens of thousands of people, not to mention those whose lives had been destroyed by taking the infamous blue crystal meth that he creates and sells.

“Meth is one of most dangerous drugs out there. If you even try it once, you’re hooked for life and you’ll never be the same again,” he said.

Asked how he thought Walt Jr and Jesse would get along if they ever met, RJ said that he always felt that Jr had been pushed aside by Walter and that, in a way, Jesse had become the son Walt had never had.

“I don’t know how Walt Jr would have coped with that,” he admitted. “His dad spent every day with Jesse for however many years, which is something he never did with his real son, so I think there’d be a lot of resentment. I would hope they’d get along and smoke a joint but you never know.”

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Asked if he thought if Jr would ever take the money Walter had left for him, RJ said that he doubted it.

“One of the things Walt Jr takes away from his family and from Walter is his stubbornness and pride,” RJ explained. “He would never accept the money because that’s just not who he is. It was never about the money for him, it was only about the money for Walt. All Walt Jr wanted was his family back.”

Asked what had been the most difficult thing to shoot for the show, RJ said that he hadn’t found anything particularly hard to shoot because he loved what he was doing and all he had to do was bring the wonderful stories written on the page to life.

On a more personal topic, RJ was asked by a fan how much he had learned about himself during his 7 years of working on the show.

“I learned a lot about my cerebral palsy,” said RJ, who has a slightly milder form of the condition than his character. “When auditioning for Breaking Bad, the casting call was for someone with brown hair, big eyebrows and mild cerebral palsy and I was like, ‘Perfect, this is me!'”

He explained that, when he got the part and found that he had to use crutches for it, they served as a constant reminder to him of what he had overcome in his own life and how he could easily have ended up.

“I worked really hard not to have to use braces and crutches,” he said. “I tried my whole life to get out of them and then I had to use them again for my character. I can’t escape!” he laughed.

Asked about the most obscure place he’d ever been recognised, RJ replied that being recognised in bathrooms was always a little awkward, though it doesn’t really surprise him any more. He also said that he once witnessed a fan almost getting hit by a car while crossing the road to say hello to him.

“Things like that make me scared for them,” he said. “But people will always surprise you – that’s one thing I’ve learned in this business.”

This led RJ onto talking about what he believed Breaking Bad was all about, and the message it portrayed.

“People are capable of anything,” he said. “It’s about how far you are willing to go to provide for your family and to excel in what you’re doing in your work and your art.”


When asked how it felt to have been part of one of the most ground-breaking shows ever been made, he replied simply, “It’s nice, I guess.” He then went on to say that one of the best things about Breaking Bad is that it has an afterlife, pointing out that there are still people starting to watch it now, as well as people who have begun re-watching the series.

Asked what his favourite part of filming Breaking Bad had been, he spoke again about the great scripts and brilliant team he got to work with: “It’s really hard in this industry to have that. We all genuinely cared about each other and loved working together.”

On the subject of his plans for the future, RJ said that he is currently working on the ABC show Switched at Birth, a series about two sisters, one of whom uses sign language while the other is hard of hearing.  In this particular show, RJ appears in a wheelchair. He also said that he had recently been shooting a movie called Dixieland, in which he has to use a motorised wheelchair.

“I’m waiting for my next role to be in a coma,” he laughed. “It’d be great! I’d get to go to work, lie down, shoot my scene, and then just get up and walk away.”

Joking aside, he did say that sitting in a chair all day isn’t quite as good as it sounds.

“It was really eye-opening to see what that’s like and how some people have to live,” he explained, and went on to say that he feels very lucky to have been given new roles that are helping him to move forward in his career. “In this industry you can’t afford to take a break, because if you do, someone else has already got your next job!”

Finally, RJ was asked if he ever re-watches Breaking Bad, to which he replied that he “avoids it like the plague”.

“I was forced to watch some of the episodes at the premieres, but if it comes on TV, I run out of the room,” he said. “I don’t really like how I sound or how I look. I don’t even like looking at photographs of myself!”

And with that, the discussion drew to a close as RJ thanked his fans for their questions.

Photographs by Caitlin Jenkins.

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