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It's hard to believe, but we've arrived at the ten year anniversary of AMC's Breaking Bad. The series debuted on the network in January of 2008, and would grow to become one of the most critically acclaimed shows of television history. Bryan Cranston lead the cast with ferocity, portraying a complicated protagonist who grew from an unlikely hero to the show's own villain. As such, Cranston had a ton of difficult material to grapple with while playing the teacher turned drug lord. And now Cranston has revealed his most difficult scene to film: Jane's death in the show's second season. Here's why.
Walt watches Jane die was probably the most difficult scene for me to shoot, emotionally. Because, temporarily, I saw the image of my own daughter in her face rise to the surface, take the place of Krysten Ritter, and then just as quickly disappear. But it was just instantaneous, that millisecond was all that it took for me to catch myself. Because again, I thought one of the reasons to save this person was because she's a young woman, she could be my daughter.
It looks like one of Walter's darkest secrets from Breaking Bad was also Bryan Cranston's most difficult scenes to shoot. Jane's death is truly harrowing, and Walt letting her die may be the character's first truly villainous action.
Jane (Krysten Ritter) and her death truly are the events that define Breaking Bad Season 2. It's a turning point that shows how far Walter White is going in order to keep his growing drug empire. While he weeps watching her die, Walt ultimately doesn't save her, because Jane's death would keep Jesse dependent on his partner for emotional and financial support. If she had survived, then Jesse might have gotten free of Walt's influence. Additionally, Jane's death ultimately causes the plane crash that looms above the entirety of Season 2.
While Bryan Cranston's comments to EW reveals what a difficult time he had shooting Jane's death scene in Season 2, his performance is truly outstanding. Walter is clearly horrified by watching the young girl die, but he can't bring himself to step in and save her. He ultimately picks the meth business over both Jane and Jesse's lives, a decision he would end up repeating constantly throughout the show's long tenure on the air.
As a reminder, check out the scene below. But be warned, it's quite graphic.
You can almost see the internal struggle that Bryan Cranston was going through as they shot the scene. And while it seems to still affect the actor today, you can't deny that the performance might make the internal struggle worth it.