How the Beloved “Breaking Bad” Cast Has Changed Throughout the Years and What They Do Now

6 months ago

When people talk about the best TV shows ever, they often mention familiar titles, like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, The Simpsons, and Sherlock. But there’s one show that stands out even more. Breaking Bad premiered on AMC in 2008 and quickly became a favorite. People were impressed by the amazing acting and the tight script. It earned a bunch of awards, including 16 Primetime Emmys out of 58 nominations.

Throughout its 5-year run, Breaking Bad consistently delivered fantastic episodes. In September 2013, it concluded with what some consider to be one of the best series finales ever. Now, almost a decade later, let’s take a closer look at the cast and characters from the show and see where they are now.

It’s been so long since the fist episode, but our memories of it are still fresh!

It’s been more than 10 years since Breaking Bad came to an end in 2013, yet its legacy still thrives, securing a spot among the top 100 most-watched TV series. Since its conclusion, the series spawned a popular spin-off, Better Call Saul. Much has changed since the very first episode, especially for the actors who portrayed our favorite characters. They’ve ventured on to new projects, and some have become household names.

Breaking Bad remains a cultural phenomenon, with fans fondly reminiscing about the memorable moments that made the show a timeless classic. The impact of the series extends beyond its years on air, continuing to influence the landscape of storytelling. In this article, we’ll show you how the legendary actors of the Breaking Bad cast have changed since the first episode!

1. Walter White — Bryan Cranston

© Breaking Bad / Sony Pictures Entertainment and co-producers, Kristin Callahan / Everett Collection / East News

Celebrated as one of the best casting decisions in history, Bryan Cranston’s depiction of the chemistry teacher turned underground kingpin, Walter White, has left an enduring impact. Throughout the show’s duration, his performance acted as a cornerstone, captivating audiences. Facing a diagnosis of lung cancer, Walter White seizes control of his destiny, revealing facets of his personality that would captivate even Sigmund Freud.

Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White earned him 3 Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor. This accomplishment not only brought him acclaim but also opened doors to more recognition, with Tony Awards and Academy Award nominations for his subsequent roles. Post-Breaking Bad, Cranston’s already flourishing career took off to new heights. He’s been featured in well-received shows like Trumbo, Why Him?, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.

Looking ahead, the actor revealed plans to take a hiatus from acting in 2026 to focus on his marriage and relocate to France, adding a new chapter to his remarkable journey in the entertainment industry.

2. Jesse Pinkman — Aaron Paul

Jesse Pinkman, the imperfect yet captivating partner to Walter White, experiences a compelling character journey throughout the show. Starting as a struggling student, Pinkman’s life undergoes a profound transformation in Breaking Bad, highlighting his misunderstood empathy in contrast to White’s ruthless nature. Jesse Pinkman has garnered a special place in the hearts of fans, as was proven by discussions on platforms like Reddit, where he is often cited as a favorite character.

After Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul, much like Cranston, found great success in his career, participating in various projects, such as Need for Speed, Central Intelligence, and El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. His performance in El Camino earned him nominations for several awards and a notable win at the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, underscoring the impact of his talent and the enduring appeal of the Breaking Bad universe.

Recently, he took on the role of Cliff in the latest season of Black Mirror, featuring in the poignant story, “Beyond the Sea,” which adds another remarkable chapter to his extensive filmography.

3. Saul Goodman — Bob Odenkirk

When talking about how the Breaking Bad cast has changed, it’s impossible to overlook Bob Odenkirk. Known for his portrayal of the sleazy yet effective attorney, Saul Goodman, continued his journey with the character in the spin-off series, Better Call Saul, which served as both a prequel and sequel to the original Breaking Bad.

Odenkirk’s career began in comedy writing, where he contributed to the television series, Saturday Night Live, from 1987 to 1991. In 2001, he acted in the absurdist comedy act known as Tim & Eric. Going beyond acting, Odenkirk has also stepped into the director’s chair, taking on feature films like Melvin Goes to Dinner, Let’s Go to Prison, and The Brothers Solomon. Following his success on Breaking Bad, he ventured into diverse projects, showcasing his versatility.

Notably, Odenkirk played roles in significant films, like Nebraska, The Post, Pixar’s Incredibles 2, Little Women, and Nobody. Each project contributed to his growing reputation as a talented and adaptable actor. A milestone in Odenkirk’s career occurred with Better Call Saul, where he not only reprised the title role but also earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 18, 2022, coinciding with the premiere of the final season of the series. This recognition symbolized his enduring impact on the entertainment industry.

In addition to his television and film endeavors, Odenkirk continued to take on roles in popular series, such as Straight Man, showcasing his continued relevance and widespread appeal in the world of entertainment. Odenkirk’s journey post-Breaking Bad has been marked by success, recognition, and a continued commitment to delivering compelling performances.

4. Skyler White — Anna Gunn

Before captivating audiences in Breaking Bad, Anna Gunn earned recognition for her roles in The Practice (1997–2002) and Deadwood (2004–2006). Her contributions to television marked the beginning of a successful career. Beyond the small screen, she ventured on to notable films, leaving her mark with performances in Without Evidence, Enemy of the State, Treading Water, Twelve Mile Road, Red State, and Equity. This demonstrated her talent and versatility across different facets of the entertainment industry. She also starred in successful projects, like Shades of Blue, Prodigal Son, and Sully, alongside Tom Hanks. These endeavors showcased her ability to excel in diverse roles, proving her resilience and dedication to her craft.

In 1990, Gunn entered a new chapter in her life by marrying Alastair Duncan, a Scottish actor and real estate broker. However, their journey together faced challenges, leading to their unfortunate divorce in 2009. Throughout their time as a couple, they welcomed 2 daughters into the world, Eila Rose and Emma, adding familial joy to their lives.

Despite her success, Gunn faced a unique challenge with her role as Skyler in Breaking Bad. While she had portrayed deep and complex characters with incredible skill before, her portrayal of Skyler received a surprising amount of criticism and hate from some fans. Undeterred, the actress gracefully moved forward, embracing new opportunities in her career.

Gunn’s journey in the entertainment industry has been marked by both triumphs and challenges, but through it all, she continues to showcase her talent, versatility, and commitment to her craft. Her ability to transition seamlessly between television and film roles reflects her enduring impact on the world of entertainment.

5. Hank Schrader — Dean Norris

In the gripping narrative of Breaking Bad, Hank Schrader emerges as a compassionate family man and dedicated DEA agent, often finding himself entwined in the series’ tragic twists. Unaware that his relentless pursuit of the meth kingpin “Heisenberg” leads him closer to his brother-in-law, Walter White, Hank faces numerous challenges that contribute to his eventual struggle with PTSD. Dean Norris delivers an impeccable portrayal of this complex character, a remarkable accomplishment appreciated by fans familiar with his outstanding body of work, even before Breaking Bad.

Following the conclusion of Breaking Bad, Norris continued to display his exceptional talent in various projects, including Remember and Superstore, maintaining a steady presence on our screens. His commitment to delivering compelling performances has solidified his reputation as a versatile and skilled actor. Fans eagerly anticipate his upcoming role in the sequel to 2019’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, directed by André Øvredal, which promises to be another exciting chapter in Norris’s career.

Beyond his acting career, Norris shares a personal connection with his hometown athletic team, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, displaying a genuine passion for sports. Additionally, he owns The Swing Inn Cafe, a well-established restaurant located in Old Town, Temecula, adding a personal touch to his professional achievements. In both his personal and professional life, Dean Norris continues to make a meaningful impact, showcasing his versatility and leaving a lasting impression on audiences.

6. Gus Fring — Giancarlo Esposito

Gus Fring, a notorious antagonist on Breaking Bad, operates a rival meth empire to Walter White’s. In contrast to Walter’s erratic behavior, Gus is known for being cold and calculated. Giancarlo Esposito’s portrayal of Gus stands out for its exceptional performance.

Esposito is frequently sought after to depict intense characters on-screen. Like the main cast of Breaking Bad, he reprised his role in the Better Call Saul spin-off. Notably, he snagged a Critics’ Choice Award for the Best Supporting Role in the series. Beyond this, he continues to star in highly successful shows, such as The Mandalorian and The Boys.

Expanding his horizons beyond Breaking Bad, Esposito has made appearances on various shows, including the Cinemax series, Jett, HBO’s Westworld, and ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Venturing into the world of cinema, Esposito’s filmography includes diverse productions, like Okja, Money Monster, The Jungle Book, and many more! Through these varied roles, he consistently showcases his talent and versatility across different projects, contributing to his well-deserved reputation as a versatile actor.

7. Mike Ehrmantraut — Jonathan Banks

Jonathan Banks received various awards for acting in Breaking Bad and 4 Emmy nominations for his exceptional supporting role in the drama series — the spin-off, Better Call Saul. Beyond his well-known film roles, Banks has a busy schedule as a voice actor, contributing his voice to various animated projects. One notable example is his portrayal of a villain in the animated movie, Catwoman: Hunted. Banks has also lent his voice to several animated shows, showcasing his versatility in projects such as F Is for Family, Skylanders Academy, A Tale Dark & Grimm, Incredibles 2, and Gravity Falls.

In the realm of academia, Jonathan Banks is not just a talented actor, but also actively engaged in studies. His commitment to education was recognized when he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from Indiana University in April 2016.

Banks’ multifaceted career demonstrates not only his prowess in the entertainment industry but also his dedication to continued learning and exploration of diverse roles. Whether on-screen or behind the microphone, Jonathan Banks continues to leave a lasting impact on audiences and the academic community alike.

8. Steven Gomez — Steven Michael Quezada

Following the conclusion of the crime drama in 2013, many Breaking Bad cast members changed remarkably, and sometimes these changes made them nearly unrecognizable. One such example is Steven Michael Quezada, known for his portrayal of Steven Gomez, Hank Schrader’s partner and close friend at the Albuquerque DEA office. In the critically acclaimed series, Gomez played a vital role in assisting Hank in bringing the infamous Walter White to justice. Now, at the age of 58, Quezada looks significantly different from his former character and has transitioned away from the world of acting.

Steven Quezada, a true veteran of New Mexico’s rising film industry, has deep roots in the entertainment world. Post-Breaking Bad, Quezada took on roles in various movies, including Light from the Darkroom, Hermanos, The Night Before, and Wish Man. Additionally, he made a guest appearance on the fifth season of the Breaking Bad spin-off series Better Call Saul.

Beyond his acting career, Quezada ventured into politics, making a sensational move. He ran for the Democratic nomination for New Mexico’s Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners for District 2. Following his triumph over Republican Patricia Paiz in the election, he was sworn in for a 4-year term. This unexpected turn in his career showcases Quezada’s versatility and commitment to making a positive impact in his community.

Apart from his acting career, he is widely recognized as a comedian in the Southwest, delivering tours and shows across comedy clubs since 1987. Adding to his achievements, he received the New Mexico Hispanic Entertainers Association Comedian of the Year Award an impressive 5 times, a testament to his enduring influence and popularity in the region.

We always enjoy watching how our favorite actors change and become better with time! Would you like to learn more similar stories? Make sure to check out our previous article!

Preview photo credit Breaking Bad / Sony Pictures Entertainment and co-producers, Andy Kropa/Invision/East News, Breaking Bad / Sony Pictures Entertainment and co-producers, Jordan Strauss/Invision/East News


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