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.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.