Watch the Original Audition Tapes for Breaking Bad Before the Final Season Debuts

Break­ing Bad is the first sto­ry to tru­ly com­mit the full spec­trum of New Mex­i­co to film,” writes Rachel Syme in a New York­er post on the crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed AMC series’ use of and effect on her home state. “The grandiose vis­tas, the soar­ing alti­tudes, the banal office com­plex­es, the Kokopel­lis and Kachi­na dolls, the seamy ware­hous­es, the marsh­mal­low clouds. The show seems to root itself deep­er in the land­scape with every new mon­tage. It has become our newest mon­u­ment.” With the con­clud­ing sea­son of the exploits of chem­istry-teacher-turned-metham­phet­a­mine-deal­er Wal­ter White debut­ing this Sun­day, Break­ing Bad fans have no doubt steeled them­selves for a tele­vi­su­al plunge back into its very own Albu­querque, which “still looks like the Wild West, a scorched, hazy, law­less place where rugged indi­vid­u­al­ism might just tip over into crim­i­nal behav­ior at any moment,” an inter­pre­ta­tion Syme deems “not whol­ly inac­cu­rate.”

To assist you in your own re-entry into Break­ing Bad’s thor­ough­ly amoral but unstop­pably com­pelling real­i­ty, we’ve round­ed up a few audi­tion tapes which let you wit­ness the ear­ly for­ma­tion of three of the show’s char­ac­ters. Every­one talks about Bryan Cranston’s star­ring per­for­mance as Wal­ter, and giv­en his ground­ed exe­cu­tion of a near-nov­el­is­tic arc of improb­a­ble trans­for­ma­tion, right­ly so. But what about his wife and even­tu­al mon­ey laun­der­er Skyler, as por­trayed by Anna Gunn? Or her broth­er-in-law Hank, the gung-ho DEA agent played by Dean Nor­ris? Or Aaron Paul as Jesse, Wal­ter’s for­mer stu­dent and cur­rent part­ner in crime? In a series so high­ly praised for the writ­ing of its char­ac­ters, you don’t want to think about just one. Or maybe your mem­o­ries of them have grown dim, in which case you’ll want to spend eight min­utes with this recap of the pre­vi­ous sea­sons before you set­tle down for the final one.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Inside Break­ing Bad: Watch Conan O’Brien’s Extend­ed Inter­view with the Show’s Cast and Cre­ator

Bryan Cranston Reads Shelley’s Son­net “Ozy­man­dias” in Omi­nous Teas­er for Break­ing Bad’s Last Sea­son

Inside Break­ing Bad: Watch Conan O’Brien’s Extend­ed Inter­view with the Show’s Cast and Cre­ator

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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