July 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM ET
In order to play "Breaking Bad's" teacher-turned-drug-lord Walter White, Bryan Cranston had to tap into his dark side. But based on comments he made in the new issue of GQ, the actor apparently didn't have to dig all that deep.
In fact, he knows exactly what it's like to want to commit murder.
"I had one girlfriend I wanted to kill," he told the magazine, a woman who was a drug addict who followed him to New York when he began working on the soap opera "Loving." The article says she stalked him and threatened to mutilate and kill him, then showed up at his apartment one day.
"I envisioned myself killing her," he said. "It was so clear. My apartment had a brick wall on one side, and I envisioned opening the door, grabbing her by the hair, dragging her inside, and shoving her head into that brick wall until brain matter was dripping down the sides of it. Then I shuddered and realized how clearly I saw that happening. And I called the police because I was so afraid. I was temporarily insane — capable of doing tremendous damage to her and to myself."
Fortunately, that didn't happen. But the 57-year-old actor said that not internalizing some of White's characteristics over the seasons would be impossible. "When you first start working on a character, it remains outside of you," he said. "The more you work on it, it's like you start dating, getting to know each other, and then trusting each other, feeling confident in each other's company, until, pretty soon ... you kind of glide in."
He added, "The best condition is when the character seeps inside of you, where you almost ingest it."
He's done that admirably — the versatile actor has gone from that soap opera, to a long-running role in the sitcom "Malcom in the Middle," to "Bad," which returns for its final episodes on Aug. 11 — and on Tuesday even received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
And one reason he's done it so well is that he truly understands White, for good and for ill. But as he notes, anyone could become a White, given the right circumstances.
"What happened to Walt is something I related to, if I'm truly honest with myself," he said. "I've come to realize that I think everybody is capable of that. If you came into a condition where you were under tremendous stress. And if I knew what buttons to push that threatened you and yours. ... You could become an extremely dangerous person."