After five all-consuming seasons of Breaking Bad, it's mind-blowing to step back and remember that Bryan Cranston once played the goofy dad on Malcolm in the Middle. What's even more unbelievable is just how believable he was in both roles. For six years, Cranston made us laugh as Hal, the well-intentioned but not so bright husband to Lois and father to four rambunctious boys. He rollerskated, he did Dance Dance Revolution, he made up a song about his belly — in other words, he was amazing. Then, as if Cranston rebirthed himself, he reemerged as the most calculating and manipulative drug kingpins in TV history. And we all know how masterfully he plays the role of Walter White. In honor of Breaking Bad's finale this Sunday, let's take a look back at just how different these two characters are.
Always the goofball, Hal loves to show off his dance moves.
Not to mention his flair for rollerskate choreography.
Remember how Walt ruthlessly hunted that fly? Here's how Hal handles a spider in the house (like a little girl).
This is what a typical family dinner is like with Hal.
This is a pretty common expression for Hal, who has a habit of getting himself into trouble.
Walt, on the other hand, may get himself into trouble, but he almost never loses his cool.
He plays the role of drug kingpin very convincingly.
Although, once in a while, his rage gets the best of him.
And rage he is full of.
But sometimes also calm and composed cruelty.
Plus absolute psychotic behavior. The terror on Skyler's face gives me the chills.
Man, he's come a long way from Hal.
Hal and Walt
Side by side, the differences between the two are even more apparent:
Walt gets attacked by knives.
While Hal does the attacking.
But sometimes they can be surprisingly similar. For instance, Hal's scientific methods of making the household snacks tastier.
And Walt's occasional spurts of snazziness, which embarrass Jesse the way Hal embarrasses Malcolm.
The glint in Hal's eye...
...can still be found in Walt's, on a few rare occasions.
Hal also taught chemistry (although a very different kind of chemistry).
And last but not least, the most significant similarity between Hal and Walt is...their love of tighty-whities.
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Shark Tank will begin yet another season on Friday, September 20 at 9 PM ET on ABC. And I, for one, can't be more excited. More entrepreneurs will be climbing into the tank to either get their dream funding or get torn into chum by the hungry sharks. There's pretty much no in-between there, which is what makes it great.
The show is adhering to its main core, but it's also making a big change. This time, there will be two female Sharks on the show at the same time. Before that, Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran tag-teamed as the lone female out of five sharks. This time, both of them will be there sometimes and Daymond John will be getting a breather. What I like about this is that it will likely calm things down in what can often be testosterone-driven negotiations. How many times do you remember Mark Cuban going, "OK, you have 24 seconds. Yes or no? Yes or no? OK, I'm out. See ya!"? I can see Greiner and Corcoran both slamming on the brakes there to bring things back to a more sedate level.
One of the main draws of the show is that it is very re-watchable. I've seen the same episodes several times and taken away something new each time from how an entrepreneur either did a great job with the negotiations or frittered away their chance by even walking through those doors to meet the Sharks.
What I also love about the show is that the sharks have their own distinct personalities and aren't afraid to insult each other as well as those poor sharks that come in. Kevin O'Leary calls himself "Mr. Wonderful" and is more often a jerk than not. John can be brusque when he realizes the pitch is not for him, but for all his machismo, Cuban tends to be like Robert Herjavec and is very helpful in his explanations of why he is or is not in - unless the prospective entrepreneur pisses him off.
The only thing I don't like in the show is that advertising is starting to creep in at some points. Suddenly one of the Sharks will proclaim that they have to take a call on a prominently named phone. Things like that jar a bit. I know they have to do this to help combat DVRing, but it takes me out of the show.
Other than that, I can't wait until Friday. Come on in...the water's fine.
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He is the one who props. Since Breaking Bad’s third season, designer Mark Freeborn has been the man behind the blue meth. Before Walt dons his final porkpie hat, Hollywood.com asked Freeborn what ingredients he combined to set the stage for one of the best shows of all time. How did you go about creating the world of the show? How much did Albuquerque influence the look of Breaking Bad?
I was actually invited to join the band during season 3, so part of the look was well established before I got there. Generally speaking, New Mexico is "the look." It is by turns stark, barren, unforgivingly dangerous and extraordinarily beautiful. Historically, New Mexico is also a prominent drug shipping crossroads, so that made it right.
One of the great gifts New Mexico provided was the freedom it allowed our DP, Michael Slovis. The panoramic canvases were provided us by natural backdrop, all we had to do was fill in the details! For me, it was a fresh visual canvas.
My first set, in season 3 was in To' hahijili, a century-old abandoned stagecoach stop. The skeleton of the town set the mood for the episode (and for me, the show). Its desolation and the fact that we were shooting very close to a sacred Native American icon underscored the course we were about to take!
The scope of the locations and cinematography had a huge influence on the freedom the writer's room had on their already great scripts. From season 3 onward, it was the art department's job to visually assist in the slow deterioration of the Breaking Bad universe....And, of course, the meth labs!
If Vince Gilligan and I have anything in common, it's an obsessive need to get the details right. For example over the course of the show, we built no less than five meth labs, with at least two different processes.
We wanted to show how insidious this problem really is, and as we progressed, we actually had our concepts observed and approved by professional chemists and field agents. The same went for every location/set we built or found. If it wasn't right, we made it right or found it right.
Challenging? Yes! Rewarding? Absolutely! Frightening? Indeed.
The White home has become sort of iconic now, and in fact the owners say sometimes 200 people drive by in a day to look at "Walt's house." What was the process like to find the location and build the inside sets? What did you want the house to say about the White family?
I had virtually nothing to do with the White house design. I inherited it when I came onto the show. What I can tell you is the location was chosen specifically to take advantage of the light, approaches to the house, and the neighborhood as it connected to the script.
The set interior was only loosely based on the real house layout. For shooting purposes our set was slightly larger, and more designed to accommodate camera moves and specific character points, such as the long corridor to the master bedroom. I did make some minor adjustments, to make the 'crawl space' work , and redecorated Walt Jr's room as he matured. Of course the nursery was also dressed for the newborn Holly.
Even after the new family business was established, the interior was never painted or decorated simply because the Whites' lives moved too fast for such trivialities!
Tying into that, in the premiere the audience was shocked to see the White house completely destroyed. There seemed to be a lot of things going on visually, from the dredged pool to the graffiti. What went into that process?
Ahh! If you want a house trashed, I'm your man! From the perspective of the story, Walt is gone, and his family is in jeopardy. For reasons of safety, they've all moved out. By this time, we are led to believe everybody knows about Walt's high crimes, and because the house has been abandoned, it has been fenced off. (As is the process in Albuquerque.)
Given the recent real estate debacle in the U.S., it was plenty easy to find real reference, and we took a beat from that. The empty pool was an 'in your face' from the local youth, an excellent script vehicle to show Walt's loss. (Because, as we all know 'I may not paint the house, but don't f**k with my pool!!') The trashed house also reveals, for the first time, "Heisenberg" is more notorious than they may have thought.
Physically, the pool was a challenge, because it was fiberglass. We had to drain it, age it, shoot it and refill it in the space of five days, because hydraulic pressure from below could have pushed it out of the ground. We also had to degrade and restore both the exterior house and the stage set within the eight-day arc of an episode.
From the pork-pie hat to the hazmat suits and the teddy bear in the pool, there have been a lot of iconic and easily recognizable Breaking Bad props. Which were your favorites?
By far the porkpie! I now own four! Next would be any of the meth labs, the giant magnet...
What was your most challenging moment on Breaking Bad?
Episodes 301-516. Probably the superlab. We had some supplier issues and the writers, bless their hearts, rewrote the script to buy us some time. Next would be the compound which plays in the final few episodes.
What was your biggest triumph working on Breaking Bad? What are you most proud of accomplishing on the show?
As cliché as it may sound, the entire show was a triumph. Rarely does one find an entire crew who was so cohesive, so devoted to turning out the best television they possibly could. I am most proud of being a part of that crew. We became a family in the truest sense of the word.
Props from Breaking Bad are currently on display at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. What's it like being associated with a show with such a massive fanbase?
To quote our producer/director Michelle MacLaren, "awesome!!!” It has reduced the necessity to attend job interviews significantly.
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The Brit became one of the most in-demand off-camera experts in his field thanks to his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove and the Star Wars films.
He helped create Yoda's look for The Empire Strikes Back and Guinness' Fagin in director David Lean's Oliver Twist.
Largely self-taught, Freeborn honed his craft as an assistant to filmmaker Alexander Korda in the 1930s, when he found himself working with silver screen icons like Marlene Dietrich and Vivien Leigh.
He also created three looks for movie star Sellers in Dr. Strangelove.
Freeborn's son Graham is also a make-up artist.
Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel) has a really bad rep and with good reason: Five years ago convicted killer Riddick escaped the galaxy's law enforcement during a botched interplanetary prison transfer and has been on the lam ever since. As The Chronicles of Riddick picks up our antagonist finds his relative freedom has been compromised when mercenaries out for the $1 million bounty on his head discover his location and hunt him down. Riddick escapes their clutches steals their ship and sets off for Planet Helion to find Imam (Keith David) the Muslim cleric he rescued in Pitch Black and the only person who could have squealed his location to authorities. But while Riddick's hunch about Imam are correct the cleric has a reason for luring the mammoth murderer out of hiding: Helion is falling to unholy armies of Necromongers--warriors who conquer by force in the vein of Star Trek's Borg. Of course Riddick doesn't give a damn about the Helions or their plight--until he gets wind that the Necromogers want to kill him because of an old prophecy that foresees their end at Riddick's hands. Like it or not Riddick is left with no other choice but to battle the Necromongers.
The character of Riddick is unquestionably what made Pitch Black one of the most sequel-worthy sci-fi films in years. And Riddick would not have been one of sci-fi's most intoxicating characters if it weren't for Diesel. Like his Dominic Toretto in the 2001 actioner The Fast and the Furious Riddick is a villain of few words but when he speaks his carefully chosen words have impact--even if the dialogue is at times overly theatrical. Riddick is the perfect antihero; a cold-blooded and indifferent being who somehow evokes more compassion than the film's so-called good guys. Joining Riddick are some recurring characters including David as Imam but Riddick benefits the most from the addition of some new characters particularly Colm Feore as Lord Marshal the Necromonger leader whose goal is to rid the universe of all human life. Feore channeling nuggets of Julius Caesar into his role makes for one of Riddick's most thrilling foes. Another prominent addition to the cast is Judi Dench who has a surprisingly small role as Aereon an Elemental captured by the Necromongers and used for her special powers including ESP.
Writer/director David Twohy took his horror pic Pitch Black which gained a cult following since it was released four years ago and managed to successfully turn it into an sci-fi actioner of epic proportions. Everything is grander here which is almost a given considering Twohy shot Pitch Black on a dime in Australia using colored filters. In Riddick the director distinguishes the film's different environments--the Necros' mothership Crematoria's cavernous prison and Helion--using warm to cool tones that are dazzling yet more subtle than its predecessor. The CGI effects get a little gamey at times but production designer Holger Gross' gargantuan sets are impressive and help craft Twohy's otherworldly vision into a plausible one. And although Twohy jumps genres from Pitch Black to its sequel his storyline evolves logically from the original premise. But while moviegoers unfamiliar with Pitch Black will be able to follow the story easily enough they may have a difficult time grasping what makes Riddick such a big deal; the film explains the legend but never fully captures its quintessence. This could hurt Riddick's chances to broaden its Pitch Black fan base.
In those rare incidences a sequel can actually be better than the original. Such is the case with X2: X-Men United where this time around the X-Men--including mind-benders Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen); optically enhanced Scott/Cyclops (James Marsden); weather controller Storm (Halle Berry); Rogue (Anna Paquin) aptly named newcomers Bobby/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and John/Pyro (Aaron Stanford); and last but not least the hunky yet steely Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)--have their work cut out for them trying to keep the peace between the human and mutant races. After a teleporting mutant assailant known as Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) attacks the White House relations between mutants and humans take a turn for the worse starting an anti-mutant movement. The movement is fueled by baddie scientist William Stryker (Brian Cox) who bears a grudge against mutants and his henchwoman Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) both of whom have a mysterious connection to Wolverine's past. They seek to wipe out all the mutants on Earth by manipulating Xavier and his all-powerful machine Cerebro--a machine that can locate and even destroy every mutant and/or human on the planet in mere moments using mind power. Stryker is in for a fight though. Militant mutants the iron-clad Magneto (Ian McKellen) and morph-happy Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) join forces with the X-Men to stop this madman--but of course they have their own agendas. Can the X-Men repair the rift in mutant/human co-existence? Or is war imminent? Guess we'll have to wait until X3.
X2 does a nice job giving its comic book heroes and villains more of an emotional core than in the first X-Men. The relationships have deepened and are further explored with Jackman's haunted Logan/Wolverine looking for clues to his past still a standout. Janssen another standout gets more to chew on as Jean whose triangle with Logan and Scott grows more complicated and her character arc takes a surprising turn. But will somebody please write Halle Berry out of this franchise? They say her blonde wig was improved for the sequel but it's as unbelievable as her acting. As for the kids Paquin and Ashmore sweetly play out Rogue and Bobby's budding love story but its Stanford's sullen John who holds the most interest as you see his resentment toward humans growing and luring him to the dark side. In the villains' corner Cox plays Stryker as stonily evil as he can while Romijn-Stamos seems to have a lot more fun as the ultra-cool Mystique even getting to shed the blue paint in one scene and simply use her feminine wiles to get what she wants. Cumming too seems to enjoy being blue as the bible quoting German-accented Nightcrawler who really isn't so bad after all (and has one of the snazzier entrances in the movie). But the most compelling relationship by far has to be between Xavier and Magneto. British thesps Stewart and McKellen portray the two as the old friends they are but whose disparaging views on how mutants and humans should interact has torn them apart giving the film some dramatic weight.
With the original X-Men director Bryan Singer had the dubious task of introducing all of the Marvel comic book's attributes and characters in a way that would appease rabid fans and newbies while also creating a compelling movie with a beginning middle and end. The result was adequate but a tad muddled and cartoonish. With X2 however Singer is able to fine-tune those characters and delve further into the story's universal theme: ridding the world of xenophobia and creating a peaceful co-existence. The three-tiered points of view--from Magneto's defiantly anti-human stance to Stryker's anti-mutant attempts at genocide and Xavier's hopes to find a happy middle ground--parallels today's political climate and actually makes you ponder the world's affairs even while you are watching the very cool very mutant-esque action. X2 leaves you wanting more to find out what is going to happen next to these people. Honestly if there is a war between mutants and humans who do you think is going to win? If only I could use powers of telepathy…