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(Credit: TIFF)

Film

The fan letter Anthony Hopkins sent to Bryan Cranston

@Russellisation

Breaking Bad may have concluded almost ten years ago, though its legacy as one of the greatest TV shows of all time still endures. With the likes of Game of Thrones and Squid Game having audiences in raptures since the finale of Breaking Bad in 2013, it’s easy to forget just how much of a hold the AMC show had over the TV industry, with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman becoming iconic screen characters.

In the furore of excitement that surrounded the popular show’s release, it has been revealed that the Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins sent a fan letter to the series’ lead actor, Bryan Cranston, where he showers his performance with praise. Binge-watching most of the classic series, Hopkins became so enamoured by Cranston’s performance that he felt empowered to write the actor a fan letter detailing his surprise.

Stating “your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen—ever,” Hopkins didn’t hold back any emotion from his letter, adding: “I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant!”. Continuing in a frank manner typical of the classic actor, Hopkins added, “I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I’ve sort of lost belief in anything really. But this work of yours is spectacular — absolutely stunning”. 

Praising Cranston’s performance before going on to break down the sheer brilliance of the story itself, Hopkins added: “From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek Tragedy”. Though Breaking Bad concluded in 2013, a spin-off film titled El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie was released in 2019, starring Aaron Paul as the protagonist Jesse Pinkman.

Read the letter in full, below.

“Dear Mister Cranston.

I wanted to write you this email – so I am contacting you through Jeremy Barber – I take it we are both represented by UTA . Great agency.

I’ve just finished a marathon of watching “BREAKING BAD” – from episode one of the First Season — to the last eight episodes of the Sixth Season. [Ed note: There are in fact five seasons of Breaking Bad; this might have been wishful thinking.] (I downloaded the last season on AMAZON) A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing.

I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant!

Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen – ever.

I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I’ve sort of lost belief in anything really.

But this work of yours is spectacular — absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers…. every department — casting etc. managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is (that over used word) awesome.

From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek Tragedy.

If you ever get a chance to – would you pass on my admiration to everyone — Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada — everyone —everyone gave master classes of performance … The list is endless.

Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence.

You and all the cast are the best actors I’ve ever seen.

That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing. But it is not. It’s almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email.

Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor.

Best regards

Tony Hopkins.”