EXCLUSIVE: 'I slammed her head against the wall...clumps of hair and bits of skin and brain matter stuck to the brick... blood began dribbling to the floor.' How Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston 'got rid of' his real life stalker ex-girlfriend
- When Cranston first read the script for Breaking Bad, he didn't think that the killer in Walter White's personality was within him
- So he drew upon a past affair he fell into with a woman, identified as Ava, who he first met at an audition for a TV show in Los Angeles in the 1980s
- She was crazy, he says, but 'crazy creates great sex'
- He couldn't get her out of his life until he envisioned himself killing her by repeatedly bashing her head against a wall
- Cranston went on to play the perfect Walter White and his alter ego, Heisenberg, earning four Emmys for the role
- The Hollywood actor tells all in his upcoming memoir, A Life in Parts
Actor Bryan Cranston knew he was Walter White when he read the pilot script of the groundbreaking television show Breaking Bad in 2007.
But when creator Vince Gillian told him that the over the show's forthcoming seasons the planned arc was to morph Walter White, a chemistry teacher and character much like the fictional British school teacher Mr Chips into Scarface, a ruthless drug kingpin capable of vicious murder, Cranston was shocked.
Never had a lead character been taken down so far in the history of television.
When preparing for his role as Walter White in the hit series Breaking Bad, actor Bryan Cranston was shocked to find out that his chemistry teacher character would turn into a cold-blooded killer
As the series progressed, White turned into his ruthless alter ego, Heisenberg
'The script was oh-my-God superb, the best hour-long drama I ever read,' Cranston writes in his memoir, A Life in Parts, published by Simon and Schuster on Tuesday. 'I began dreaming about this character, this Walter White. I was waking up in the middle of the night with him on my mind.'
He had to get this part - but where would he find within himself a cold-blooded killer, who watches his meth-making partner's girlfriend, Jane, die choking on her own vomit during a heroin overdose without trying to save her.
Meanwhile, his partner, Jesse Pinkman, was lying next to her, passed out from heroin.
Walter White may have only been a bystander in her death, but he went on to murder - by some accounts 199 people - not including the meth addicts who used Walt's drugs.
'That day I saw Jane die… I went to a place I'd never been,' Branston writes. 'I'd put everything into that scene.
'All the things I was and all the things I might have been: all the side roads and the missteps. All the stuttering successes and the losses I thought might sink me.
'I was murderous and I was capable of great love. I was a victim, moored by my circumstances, and I was the danger. I was Walter White. I was never more myself.'
As Walt sank further into his alter ego, Heisenberg, wearing the black pork pie hat, the black jacket and black glasses, he became more desperate and ruthless.
After is diagnosed with Stage III cancer, he embarks on a life of drugs and crime with partner Jesse Pinkman (left, played by Aaron Paul) in order to financially support his family
While playing White, Cranston drew upon a past wild sexual affair he fell into with a woman, identified as Ava, who he first met at an audition for a TV show in Los Angeles in the early 1980s
In one episode, Cranston's character watches his meth-making partner's girlfriend, Jane, die choking on her own vomit during a heroin overdose and without trying to save her
As Walt (pictured with in a scene with Giancarlo Espositoco) sank further into his alter ego, Heisenberg, wearing the black pork pie hat, the black jacket and black glasses, he became more desperate and ruthless
Cranston as Walter White had found his Scarface character. He was Heisenberg. He knew he could act as the killer, drawing upon a past wild sexual affair he fell into with a woman, identified as Ava, who he first met at an audition for a TV show in Los Angeles in the early 1980s.
He couldn't get her out of his life until he envisioned himself killing her by repeatedly bashing her head against a wall. Though it was all in his mind, the killing seemed so real.
Ava had asked him out on first sighting, and he found her aggression sexy.
They met at her apartment on Friday evening and he didn't leave until Monday at noon.
'I've never been into drugs - I do drink now and then, nothing out of hand - but that weekend with Ava felt like what I imagine a binge or bender must feel like. I lost track of time,' Cranston writes.
She was crazy, he says, but 'crazy creates great sex'.
But Byan knew from the start the woman was emotionally unstable.
They went to a play together at the Shubert Theater in Century City and had an argument at intermission.
Cranston figured they'd work it out after the play, but Ava resumed the argument during the performance in a normal voice.
When he suggested they'd talked about it later, she responded, 'We'll talk about it NOW' and 'Don't f**king shush me!'
When Cranston landed a role in the daytime soap, Loving (pictured with costar Patricia Kalember) in 1983, he moved to New York to try to escape his ex-girlfriend, Ava
Embarrassed, Cranston raced to the exit where she caught up with him and escalated the argument.
'I don't know what it was. Maybe I was attracted to her unpredictability. The danger was sexy. But it was also dangerous,' Cranston writes.
Another time, they were in the car and he suggested he was heading home when she stopped the car abruptly and said, 'Get the f*** out', and then made a U-turn and headed straight for him.
He ducked between two cars and she zoomed by and yelled 'F*** you a**hooooole'.
When he tried to break up with her the first time, she collapsed in his apartment having a seizure. He drove her to the emergency room where her stomach was pumped.
He should have suspected she was taking drugs when she kept leaving the dinner table at a restaurant on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.
Waiting for several days after she was released from the hospital, he told her he was unequivocally breaking up with her and he was willing to assume the blame for a failed relationship.
'No, we're not breaking up,' she responded, Cranston recalls.
When he landed a role in the daytime soap, Loving, in New York in 1983, he thought he was free at last and settled into a studio apartment on the Upper West Side.
It's better for both of us, he told Ava.
Before his role as Walter White on Breaking Bad, Cranston appeared in several other shows, including a guest appearance on Seinfeld in 1994 (pictured above)
Within a few months, however, Ava sublet an apartment in the city, called Cranston and said she wanted to have dinner.
Cranston refused but when she made him feel guilty for leaving her so abruptly, he agreed to meeting in a public place.
She hadn't changed. She worked herself into a frenzy, increasing the volume of her voice, alarming the manager and other patrons.
'Don't apologize to these a**holess, you f***ing p***y,' Cranston recalls her saying, before sweeping everything off the table with one arm.
'I grabbed her arm and physically forced her down the street, screaming at her, holding nothing back,' Cranston writes.
Ava shut down and apparently this burst of anger excited her and 'she kissed me wildly'…and 'I got caught up in the moment'.
'We were out in public, ripping each other's clothes off,' he writes.
They got to her apartment to finish the act that was 'savage, sick, something out of the animal kingdom'.
Cranston was astonished by his own stupidity of falling back into the sex and once again told her it was over.
But Ava proceeded to leave desperate and threatening phone messages, first saying they were destined to be together and then vowing to have him killed.
She showed up on the set where he was shooting and was escorted off but Walt knew that Ava wasn't through.
A message on his answering machine told him: 'This is how you treat me?! Motherf****r. You're dead. You're f***ing dead. You'll never know when, or where, but I've f***ing got you, c***s*cker. You're dead.'
How could he be afraid of a woman who was barely five foot two, he wondered.
Several days passed before she called and he inadvertently picked up the phone.
Ava was not going to be ignored. She told him she planned to have him killed and his body would never be found. If it was found, it would be unrecognizable.
Feeling like a cornered animal, Cranston told her if this didn't stop he was going to tell her mother. He told her he had tapes of all of her threats and he'd send them to her mother. It sounded silly, but Ava didn't want her mother to know she was a stalker, into drugs and totally unstable.
'I'm coming to get that tape, you c***s**ker,' she told him and left the pay phone hanging.
Now he knew Ava was on her way over. He paced his apartment in terror. He couldn't risk leaving and running into her.
'My fear paralyzed me,' Cranston confesses. He should have called the cops. She would be there any minute.
'I needed a weapon. I went to the kitchen to find my best option, a knife…' Cranston writes.
The buzzer sounded and he heard her coming up the stairs before pounding on the door like a hammer and screaming, 'Open the door, motherf****r!'
Cranston's body was pressed into a tight ball on the floor, rocking, muttering and overcome with fear while Ava kicked the door and continued screaming.
In the early 2000s - just before Breaking Bad - Cranston picked up the role as Hal on the hit comedy Malcolm in the Middle, which ended in 2006
But something happened that surprised him - he imagined standing up and confronting Ava.
'I was separating from the fear. I rose and calmly walked to the door. I unlocked it,' he writes.
Cranston added: 'Ava was still screaming…I grabbed her arm and brought her into the apartment.'
His fear had been displaced by pure anger.
He writes: 'I adjusted my grip on her body to hold her shoulder firmly with my left hand, and her hair at the back of her head with my right hand.
'Her screaming continued but I was no longer hearing words, just a cacophony of high-pitched sound. I walked her over to the lone brick wall in the apartment.
'I slammed her head against the brick wall. Months and months of fury rippled throughout me and gave me an almost superhuman strength.
'I slammed her head against the wall with a metronomic consistency. Clumps of hair and bits of skin and brain matter stuck to the brick. Blood formed on the wall and then began dribbling to the floor.'
He found release from fear and anger but felt nothing.
'I let go of her and the body slid to the floor,' he writes. 'Dead'.
He stood still with his eyes closed. There was silence and then he heard a whimper but couldn't tell where it was coming from. He began sweating and shaking uncontrollably.
Suddenly he realized he was still tightly wrapped up in a ball on the floor at the foot of his bed. He had been whimpering. There was no blood on the brick wall. Ava's body was not lying in a heap.
Following his role on Breaking Bad, Cranston layed Lyndon B Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, in a play All the Way on Broadway (pictured above on opening night)
But what had happened? He heard new voices in the hall. It was the police. Hearing Ava's rants, neighbors had called the NYPD and she was taken away.
On that day, Cranston realized that he was capable of killing.
'I understood that given the right pressures and circumstances, I was capable of anything', he admits. 'I think that's true of all of us'.
But when he first read the script for Breaking Bad, he didn't think that the killer that showed up in Walter White's personality was also within him.
Cranston went on to play the perfect Walter White and Heisenberg.
When the studio and network initially insisted on trying out other actors for the role, including Christian Slater, Paul McCrane, Adam Godley, John Carroll Lynch, Henry Thomas, Matthew Broderick and Steve Zahn, Cranston was disturbed.
He felt great angst over the possibility that one of these guys would give a better reading.
He asked his agent to launch a preemptive strike and float a rumor out there that he had an offer on another show.
It wasn't a show he wanted, a pilot for Nurses, a script he didn't like, but he had to try something to swing the role in his favor.
Cranston tells all in his upcoming memoir, A Life in Parts. The actor's book hits stores on Tuesday
So his agent put out the rumor and five very long days crept by. Cranston finally turned Nurses down still not hearing from the studio on Breaking Bad.
And then he got the call. No one was else was going to be interviewed. Cranston was going to play Walter White.
'So I sank into Walt,' Cranston writes. It was the role of a lifetime and earned the actor four Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Writer, producer and director Vince Gilligan was in his corner the whole time.
Gilligan had worked with Cranston on X-Files and believed he was the one actor who could inhabit the character of Walter White.
Three years after Breaking Bad's series finale aired, Heisenberg still lives on in Halloween costumes.
People have shaved Walt's face into the hair on the back of their heads, tattooed his face on their backs, forearms and legs.
'I'm the permanent resident of some guy's left butt cheek,' Cranston notes. 'The audience embraced Breaking Bad beyond anyone's wildest imagination, and that changed my life.
'I'd been a working actor for nearly my entire adulthood, and now, suddenly in my fifties, I was a star.'
But that's never what he aspired to be. He just wanted to act.
Following up Breaking Bad, Cranston played Lyndon B Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, in a play All the Way on Broadway and won a Tony award for the role that let him finally move on from Walter White.
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