What if we told you that Matthew Broderick, the voice of adult Simba in Disney’s The Lion King, had turned down one of the most groundbreaking roles in television history? Well, we know that it is difficult to grasp when we consider Bryan Cranston’s brilliant portrayal of Walter White in the iconic AMC show Breaking Bad. Nonetheless, the Godzilla star was also given the opportunity to immerse himself in the intricate layers of this antihero for Vince Gilligan’s much-acclaimed series.
If AMC had stuck to their original plan and cast someone else to play Walter White, the outcome of Breaking Bad could have been very different. Prior to its 2008 premiere, AMC had a specific idea of who would lead the series when casting was being done. According to reports, the network asked John Cusack and Matthew Broderick to play the show’s lead. However, both actors reportedly declined to play Walter White. In the years that followed, Broderick, 61, has never truly stated why he declined the genre-breaking role.
Bryan Cranston Was Not The First Choice For The Role Of Walter White
The character, portrayed by Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, was a former high school chemistry teacher who turned to manufacturing meth. This multifaceted character, who questioned conventional ideas of good and evil, enthralled millions of viewers across the globe. In addition, his portrayal of Walter White has raised the bar for acting performances.
Having only seen Cranston as the flamboyant character Hal in the comedy series Malcolm in the Middle, AMC executives were initially hesitant to cast the actor as Walter White. They therefore approached actors John Cusack and Matthew Broderick for the role.
Cusack, 57, however, claimed in an interview with Variety that he was never really asked for the role:
“No, I never was, and it was one of those things where I heard it so many times I started to think maybe it was true. And I ran into the creator of ‘Breaking Bad’ [Vince Gilligan], and I said, ‘Am I crazy or did you offer me Walter White? He’s like, ‘No’.”
But unlike Cusack, Broderick has never commented publicly on the project, so it is unclear exactly what went wrong that he declined.
Bryan Cranston’s Walter White Did not Convince AMC Executives?
Bryan Cranston was most likely better known as Hal from the hit Fox sitcom Malcolm in the Middle before he became inextricably linked with Walter White on Breaking Bad. Some network executives felt that Vince Gilligan would not be quite right when he proposed him for the lead role in the AMC series because they could not distinguish the actor from Hal.
AMC executives who wished to remain anonymous disclosed this to The Hollywood Reporter in 2012.
“We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in Malcolm in the Middle. We were like, ‘Really? Isn’t there anybody else?’”
They did not start to notice Cranston taking on the role of Walter White until Gilligan persuaded them to watch the episode of The X-Files. As for the actor, he felt he needed to change things up after six years of working on Malcolm in the Middle. As stated by the Primetime Emmy Award-winning actor in the THR report:
“I [Cranston] wanted a change of pace, and whether that meant a comedy or drama, it was going to be different because I didn’t need the money anymore.”
We cannot have imagined another face for the cult classic anti-hero after Cranston’s exceptional performance in the role.
AMC’s Breaking Bad debuted on January 20, 2008, and ran for five seasons, totaling sixty-two episodes, before ending on September 29, 2013.
Stream Breaking Bad on Netflix.