The fervor over the final episodes of AMC's "Breaking Bad" has reached such a fever pitch, Laura Fraser is noticing it even in her home country of Scotland.
"It's really kind of upped the ante this year. It's just gone, like, phenomenon kind of—just insane," the 37-year-old said Tuesday during a phone conversation. "Yeah, it's like a freight train; it's mad."
Fraser joined the Emmy-winning series in its final season playing Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, the neurotic but calculating business executive who has now taken over distribution of Walter White's meth empire. When the final eight episodes debuted Aug. 11, Lydia pleaded with retired Walt (Bryan Cranston) to come back into her ailing business to fix the purity of the meth. He said no and his wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), broke a little bad herself and told Lydia to get lost.
Fraser was under strict orders not to go into detail about anything in upcoming episodes, but the warm, funny Scot did tell me that she has, in the past, gotten "highly wound up" like her character.
"I can totally understand how she can go down that path," she said, laughing. "I have to say, I'm not quite as much of a nutcase as she is, but if I'm premenstrual or something I can definitely go there for a few hours. My husband’s like, 'OK, you're on one.' Yeah."
Fraser talked more about Lydia's and the show's end—but don't expect any spoilers. But you can read the wild speculations about the show I inferred from our chat here.
New episodes of "Breaking Bad" air at 8 p.m. CT Sundays on AMC.
People are crazy over Sunday's premiere of "Breaking Bad."
Yeah. I know, it's kind of mad. Even here in Scotland people are kind of crazy about it; it's like fever pitch. It's kind of mental, really.
Did you expect that after your time on the show last year?
Last year, I remember in New York, I'd be in a cafe and then I'd sort of hear someone talking about what had just happened in "Breaking Bad." And I'd be like, "Oh my God, this is so weird." ...
Are you glad to be in Scotland?
Yeah. I kind of feel like I've been sequestered here in case I get Tourette's syndrome and just like spill all the story lines, because people keep asking me like [they're] drug addicts, like, "Just give me something! Let me know what happens! I'll take anything." I'm so worried that I'll just go, "Well, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah" and give them everything. So I've kind of sequestered myself here in Scotland ... I've managed so far not to tell anyone, but I'm not a good secret keeper. It's a worry.
But today you're going to tell me everything right?
Oh, yeah. Absolutely. What do you need to know? [Laughs.] I get in trouble too often doing the wrong thing. There's some really great stuff I'd love to tell you about but I can't. Sorry. It's very boring.
I don't think I actually want to hear it anyway.
I know. That's the thing. Nobody really wants it because it would ruin it; it would spoil it. Yeah.
Exactly. So we'll skip the "how's it all end" question. But you can tell me, are you happy how it all ends?
I love the way it all wraps up, she said vaguely, for Lydia. I couldn't have wished for a kind of more fitting ending, whatever that may be. The way it all wraps for her at the end of this final season, I love it. It kind of made me laugh. It kind of felt pristinely perfect for Lydia Rodarte-Quayle to kind of wrap it up the way she does.
She's kind of a contradiction, because she's so nervous and high strung, but she's in this business that makes no sense for that kind of personality to be in.
Yeah, I feel like she kind of vibrates at a very high-pitched frequency. She's a mass of contradictions. I feel like the last season that was on last summer, she kind of had fallen into it and was constantly kind of scraping the sides, trying to get back up and get out. And I kind of thought she would claw her way out, you know, hopefully without dying. But then this season it seems like she actually will continue to be there in meth land and continue to distribute, but by choice. It's like, "Yeah, you know what? I'm in this business now. Let's get this going, keep this moving." She seems to be there more by personal choice, even though she's desperately uncomfortable with it.
You think she's still desperately uncomfortable with it?
I do. But I think no matter what Lydia does she's desperately uncomfortable. You know, I just think she's not a happy bunny. Whatever she does it would be like fighting, you know, battling with it. She's just, I don't know, she can't seem to relax. It's awful for her.
Do you think that you have a temperament similar to Lydia's, or not at all?
I can definitely get super highly wound up and I can definitely feed my neurosis and spiral out of them. You know, get a very zany perspective or irrational behavior. I can totally understand how she can go down that path. I have to say, I'm not quite as much of a nutcase as she is, but if I'm premenstrual or something I can definitely go there for a few hours. My husband's like, "OK, you're on one." Yeah.
So it's not a lot of hard work to get into her headspace?
Not hugely. [Laughs.] I hope I'm slightly nicer and less of a murderess, but yes, I can relate. I can relate to Lydia.
In the premiere she showed up at the car wash to ask Walt for help with the meth business again and he turns her down. My assumption is that she's actually going to get him to come on board again...
Interesting. Interesting. [Laughs.]
Is there anything you can say about that?
It's awful doing interviews for this because I can't say anything! ... And that's terrible. I can't say anything about that. Sorry.
She also has a run-in with Skyler, who kicks her out. Does that foreshadow any kind of conflict there?
Yes. That sounds interesting. Let me see what I can say ... Let's vaguely say that that does foreshadow a little bit of conflict possibly in the future. Whether that's just in Lydia's mind, or in real life, remains to be seen. [Laughs.] It's pathetic, isn't it? Yeah, and I think she would love Walt to get back and sort this situation out and get the qualities of meth back up. But if she can't, she's going to find another way to do that.
The whole thing with Skyler, I was wondering if it's fun for you to finally sort of clash with a female costar for once?
Oh, it was so lovely. I'm always with the boys, yeah. Because I love working with women; I love having scenes with other female actors. It's just because you're always working with guys and it's just nice to have a scene with a woman. And Anna Gunn's so lovely. And we were laughing because I'm such a midget and she's so tall and willowy. And it's like our characters, like Lydia being so absolutely ridiculous, a little feisty nut case, and [Skyler's] denial, her glue-sealed denial—yeah, we had a little laugh that day at ourselves; a few chuckles.
Lydia seemed quite taken aback by what happened and maybe a little fearful of Skyler. Are they are going to meet again? And does Lydia grow into more of a strong force?
I would say that Lydia definitely adds a little steel to her armor. She's still that little fighting sheep inside, but she's like building up her armor and building up these walls around her, putting in a moat.
She gets a bit more steely, and a little colder. She was cold before, I mean she offed these guys without any kind of empathy. She didn't care; she wanted these guys gone.
I feel like she does. She becomes more brutal.
It seems like everybody that Walt meets, he changes in a bad way. Is that what happens with her?
It's kind of like the opposite of spreading the love, isn't it? It's like this seething coldness that just permeates through all the characters and ripples of ugliness. It's horrible.
With such a dark show, fans often wonder if the set is serious or fun. Do you remember specific fun moments?
I find there to be quite a lot of giggling going on. The biggest giggler seemed to me was Aaron Paul. Who knows who was the biggest giggler, maybe it's Bryan. But with my scenes so far Aaron's been quite an effective giggler. And then Bryan is more able to keep a straight face and get you giggling. It's really hard to talk about things that happen because then it's like that actually happened on that episode. I can't tell you a story about that. I'll just have to leave it there with that. Sorry. It's terrible.
You said Lydia becomes quite brutal herself. Are we going to be surprised by what she does?
I think in the next episode, when I read it I was kind of blown away by how calculating and almost like dark with such sociopathic behavior. She's become naughtier than normal. When I read it I was kind of a little bit shocked and delighted by it, because as usually the writing is astonishing and funny as fuck, too.
Did you ever read anything in the scripts that Lydia had to do that you had to do that you're like, "I don't know if I can go there?" Or are you generally thinking, "I can't wait to do this?"
I'm delighted by it. Even when her behavior is disgusting and vile and deeply irritating and people can't stand the character. And their like, "Oh God, she's so annoying!" She would do your head in if you worked with her. You'd be like, "God that woman is a nightmare."
She just makes me laugh so much because she just takes herself so intensely and so seriously. You feel like she's just going to fall apart or blow herself up at any given moment. You're like, "Calm the fuck down," you know?
Who is your favorite character or has been your favorite character to play opposite? Not necessarily from these upcoming episodes but in general.
Well, I kind of like going against the trio of Jonathan Banks, Jesse and Walt. In 505, when I had to kind of fight for my life in the underground bunker against the three musketeers and came out alive, I totally loved doing the scene with the three of them against me. It was brilliant. Yes, I'd say the three of them.
I understand that you and Jonathan Banks, who played Mike, really got along well.
I totally loved working with him. He was the first one I met out of the whole bunch. He was scary at first, because we didn't really chat before we did our first scene. So I kind of got to know him as Mike first. And then only afterward, later on that evening did I realize what a gentleman and how lovely he was. He sorted me out, you know, like he gave me pasta back at the apartment. He's such a sweetheart.
Was it sad when Mike was done away with?
I didn't actually get that script because last season I only got the ones I was in. So I left after doing some scenes in one episode and I came back and everyone was like, "Jonathan's character died." And I was like, "What?!" I totally was excited to see him again and I was kind of bereft. I was like, "Oh shit he's gone, oh bummer." And then I got on with my day. [Laughs.]
Was it weird for the upcoming episodes to be missing people as the cast kep dwindling?
Well, people are dropping like flies towards the end. Yeah. But I can't really say who and what. It was carnage, yeah.
Have you sort of gotten over the whole thing yet?
Like, "Oh my God it's over?" I don't know, I kind of think it's traumatized me for life playing Lydia. I've got post traumatic stress disorder from playing her, she's so uptight. It kind of still feels so alive because it's on TV just now and it feels like it's ongoing.
Yeah, my daughter just asked me today, she was like, "What do you mean you don't got a job? I thought you were on 'Breaking Bad'?" And I was like, "No, no I'm not." And she went "No. Did you get fired?" And I went, "No, no. It's just that this show is over. This show is ending." And she's like, "Oh." I think she likes saying "My mom's on 'Breaking Bad.'"
I wasn't on it for that long, so it's not like a huge wrench for me. It's really more for the other cast. I was just delighted to gate crash the party in the last hour.
When you got the part were you thrilled because you already knew what the show was?
I was aware of how critically acclaimed it was when I was auditioning for it. I hadn't seen it, but I was aware of that cult status and how doing it was perceived to be. So yeah, it was kind of nerve-wracking. And then when I got it I was delighted, but very quite scared, too, [laughs], "Oh fuck. This is going to be kind of intimidating."
So I didn't then proceed to watch it because I thought, "Oh no, I just want to stay in the world of reading from the script and I don't want to recognize every one of the cast's faces. I want to just meet them as people." Then I went and did an episode, the first episode, and I was asking so many questions ... and Jonathan Banks said, "Have you not seen the show? Go out and watch it and come back to me. I mean God, Jesus. This girl, Jesus."
And so I went and watched all of it in like four days. It was ridiculous. And then I was like, "Wow I can't believe I'm on this show." Yeah, it was really cool.
Would you rank this up there with one of your best work experiences?
Yeah. Yeah. I think it is my favorite character I've ever played. I really do. Yeah, you feel bad saying, "Oh my God it's the best job I've ever had," because then you feel like you're insulting all the other groups of people you've worked with. But I certainly would say it's my favorite character I've ever played. And I really feel incredibly lucky that I got to be part of such an amazing phenomenon. ... But I do sometimes think, "Oh my God, really am I—what I'm in, what?" Yeah, it's weird.
What's the most important lesson you learned from doing this show?
Don't be a murderess. [Laughs.] Don't distribute meth in the Czech Republic. I don't know.
How about as an actress?
I guess I didn't know I could handle as much pressure as I did. I feel like I'm a little pressure cooker now and I can take a lot of pressure. Even if I think I'm actually going to have a heart attack and die from fright, I can actually seem to other people like I'm, like a duck I can look like it's really smooth sailing but under the water their little webbed feet are going like super fast. It kind of felt like that. So I suppose as an actor I felt like I can just stand a little bit more pressure than I thought I could.
What's coming next for you? Or are you just relaxing and not worrying about it?
I'm slacking here in Scotland. I'm not doing anything. I'm doing a few interviews here and there, but really not working and kind of hanging out with my family and my friends. I want to get a job soon, very soon. I don't have anything right now going on.
You have a couple movies you've already done, "The Sisterhood of Night" and "Wish You Well?"
Yeah, I do. Very good.
Why don't you give us your pitch for the final now seven episodes.
No, I'm really bad at this stuff.
Or maybe why we should cheer for Lydia.
Why you should root for Lydia? You definitely should not root for Lydia. It's like "Vote for Lydia! She'll kill you dead!" Yeah, it's just like a series of shocking and devastating moments that will take your breath away. It's astonishing and wonderful at the same time. I think you'll be a mixture of surprised and delighted. And ultimately satisfied. I told you I'm really bad at that kind of thing.
You know how fans are always complaining about series finales and everything. Do you think fans will have feel happy?
Yeah. I think they will, but it's that thing, it's been built up so much. When you build up anything that much, it can only be a disappointment. That's how I feel, but I'm really cynical and I just don't like to build things up too much. So maybe we should just all start saying it's not that good, it's all right. I mean it's the best you could do but it might be a bit rubbish.
And then everybody will be like, "It's quite good actually." ... But actually I think it's fabulous. I loved the ending. I couldn't think of a better way. Obviously I couldn't think of a better way because if I did I'd be a writer on "Breaking Bad" and I'm not. So I think it's wonderful.
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