Exclusive Interview: BREAKING BAD’s Betsy Brandt Talks About Season 4 Drama, Wearing Purple & Horrible Deaths

Betsy Brandt

Chemistry fans are going to be happy to know that AMC hit series Breaking Bad is back for a fourth season tonight Sunday July 17 at 10pm on AMC. According to Betsy Brandt who plays the intense but lovable Marie on the show, this season is going to up the ante even more.

Daemon’s TV had the great pleasure of chatting with the extremely charming and enthusiastic Betsy about what fans can expect in this new season for her character and the series overall; she also shared a few interesting details about who the biggest clown on the set was, what you should or should not be eating before watching tonight’s premiere and much much more.

Check out what she had to say below and don’t forget to watch tonight’s season 4 premiere of Breaking Bad titled “Box Cutter“.
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What can you tease about this season for Marie and her relationship with her husband?

Betsy Brandt: I think this season for everybody is going to be so great. I’ve seen episodes one, two and three so far. I don’t usually watch them ahead of time, but three was a big episode for me. I feel like every season the show has all the great things that we saw at the very beginning. It’s just more of it. Walt is in it up to his head and it’s just so amazing to watch. You get sucked in. I get sucked in as a viewer completely, but for Marie this season I feel like it’s really about her marriage and the ups and downs in her relationship and in her life and in her home life. Some of it sad to watch and some of it is really beautiful.

Marie has an unshakable devotion for her husband. Is that going to be tested this season?

Betsy Brandt: I don’t want to give anything away, but I think that it’s a hard time for both of them. Any time there’s a big transition and his not being able to walk is a big change for both of them. So, there are a lot of things to deal with, with that. In this season I think we’re going to learn a lot more about their marriage than we have in seasons past. I think as the seasons go on we see more, and I think we see that theirs is the good relationship on the show. I said to that Dean [Norris] during the pilot. I said, ‘I’m so glad that we’re playing us and not them,’ meaning Walt and Skyler. I had no idea, but I was like, ‘No good can come of that.’

BREAKING BAD Season 4 (7)

Marie and Skyler have a complicated relationship. How is that going to evolve this season?

Betsy Brandt: I think that it’s like you said, that Marie has this unshakable devotion. She has that for Hank and I think she has that for Walter and Skyler. That’s how she looks at her family and Walt Jr. I think that in seasons past we’ve seen that when she didn’t apologize to Skyler it was infuriating for Skyler.

But their relationship has stood the test of time and I’m sure that wasn’t the first time that they’ve argued like that and gone through what I call a silent period where you just need to take a break from somebody. In my life, when someone can’t admit that they’re wrong, that they’ve done something you just want to shake that person. It was kind of fun to knowingly play that person. But again, I don’t know if everyone would want to be stranded on a desert island with Marie, but I think she could be a lot of fun.

It’d be interesting for sure.

Betsy Brandt: She’d steal from the natives and have fun with them. It wouldn’t be boring. Who knows what happens when she gets a few drinks in her?

What’s it been like being on such a critically acclaimed show? Is that a unique experience?

Betsy Brandt: Can I tell you, even just the last few days it’s been really different, just since I’ve been back from Albuquerque this time. I felt like after season three I noticed a big change. People in the industry always watched the show and loved the show and were fans of the show and that was nice. But I feel like our audience is getting a lot bigger. I get recognized a lot more and people are just into it. There’s still the odd person that has never heard of it, doesn’t know anything about it, and I’m like, ‘Really? Bryan Cranston. He’s won the Emmy the last three years in a row.’

What kind of effect has that exposure had on your career and acting?

Betsy Brandt: Well, I don’t think it’s affected my acting. It’s funny, when awards season comes up or even watching ratings, I don’t really look at any of that. I looked at Dean and I said, ‘What are you going to do? If our numbers are low, are you going to act harder?’ That’s not going to change what I do acting wise, but career wise, I have to say that it’s pretty nice. There are people who know I am and like my work that would not know who I am. That’s great.

When you get the scripts now do you feel apprehension, excitement or both?

Betsy Brandt: No. I’m totally excited, excited on two levels. I’m excited, I’m not going to lie, because I want to see what I’m going to do. We get outlines first. So we get a little heads up before we get the script and I want to see what I’m going to do, and then I’m so into the story that it’s like reading a book, but the book isn’t finished yet.

So, you get a few more pages, and it’s a book that you can’t put down. So, I just want to know what’s going to happen. I really cannot wait to find out what’s going to happen with every episode when we shoot it. Now, I’m eager to see what’s going to happen next year.

Your character’s costumes have a real emphasis on purple. What’s up with that?

Betsy Brandt: I think she’s a little off which I love. I love that about her and I want her to be that way. I told Vince [Gilligan] during the pilot, we all had a color and then Kathleen Detoro, our costume designer, I think I told her that color is one of her superpowers as a designer and then how colors change. I stayed in purple. This season I get some new colors, and so I knew that my character was going to have some changes coming up because I have yellow introduced into my wardrobe.

But I told Vince during the pilot that I thought Marie was the kind of person where very little is half assed about her. I think when she’s difficult she’s really difficult. I think when she’s loving she’s loving you two hundred percent. I think she’s like that about the purple, too. I think if she likes purple she really likes purple. She’s intense about it, and also I love Hank for saying, ‘Okay, fine. You can have a purple wall in the house.’ The poor people who’s house we use for location, the location for the Schrader house, they live with a purple wall and then portrait of me in my lavender wedding dress hanging above their fireplace. There’s all this purple stuff.

Even when you guys aren’t shooting?

Betsy Brandt: Well, they don’t paint the wall every time we go there. It’s like we’d be painting it and painting it back a few times a month probably. But they’re really great and are troopers about us shooting there, even late nights. They’re good people and they’re in it now. They’re a part of our family now and they can’t bail on us now. [laughs]

If you could have the opportunity to step back in time and talk yourself at the beginning of the series what advice would you give yourself?

Betsy Brandt: I don’t know. That’s a lame answer. I don’t know that I would do anything different at the beginning of the season. TV is like this. When you do a film or you do a play you get the script and it might change. The play might not change. If it’s Shakespeare it’s not going to change, but you get the script and you know what you’re in for. You know what your journey is going to be. You know what’s going to happen, but when you do a TV show you don’t.

It could go one more season. It could go five or six seasons or you could be on a long running show that’s like seven, eight nine seasons. But you kind of get what they give you, and not that you can’t say anything about it. I just don’t think I would’ve just changed anything. The show, sometimes it just comes together and everything works, that the material is really good and the producers are really good and the writers and the actors. Everybody just comes together and I think this is one of those times.

Do you have any other projects coming up?

Betsy Brandt: I’m actually sitting in Raleigh Studios. I’m doing the first episode, season five, of ‘Private Practice’. So, I just saw that Craig Turk is writing it and I’m really excited to work with him, and I just met Shonda Rhimes. Then I’m going to take a trip with my family and then I’m coming back and I’m starting rehearsals for a new play at South Coast Repertory Theater called ‘How The World Began’. It’s a new play by Catherine Treischmann and I’m very, very excited about it.

Is there a question that you’ve been dying to give an answer to that nobody ever asks you? It can be about anything.

Betsy Brandt: Oh, my God, you have all these really good questions that I was clearly not prepared for. Who would’ve guessed? I’m just thinking about this as Marie. I think Marie would have so many answers. She would give them to you all day long.

What would Marie want to talk about?

Betsy Brandt: I think you’d need to talk about Marie and how smart she is or maybe how smart she thinks she is. That be a conversation that I’d like to partake in. It’s funny because I feel like this about her, that she usually thinks she’s right and a lot of times she is. Not when I’m playing her, but as myself I’m kind of like, ‘I’m kind of surprised.’ I love my blog. I’m crazy about my blog.

I read it. ‘Hello, internet’.

Betsy Brandt: Hello, internet.’ It was funny because we did these webisodes and we did one with Marie doing a video diary that her therapist suggest that she do, Dave who helps her work on not stealing, and apparently Dave has been pretty successful. I don’t know. We haven’t heard about Dave in a while. Maybe he’ll be back. I don’t know. Who knows? Ask me a question that you don’t usually ask anybody.

That’s a good one. I would ask who’s the clown on the set?

Betsy Brandt: Bryan. If I want to pull a practical joke, I try to get Cranston onboard because I know he’ll make it happen.

Any examples you want to share?

Betsy Brandt: So, they put big rollers in my hair and it’s a personal fantasy of mine to play a character where I scuff around in a robe and slippers with big curlers in my hair and a cigarette dangling from my mouth, and so I do that a lot when we’re shooting. They have to tie me down and take the rollers out of my hair, but any time that the White family comes over, when I answer the door I know that there’s going to be a few takes where something silly happens.

One time last season I answered the door in my curlers with a cigarette and a drink in my hand and they’re all coming over for dinner and I said, ‘Oh, shit, it’s Wednesday? No, no, no. It’s fine. Come on in, guys.’ One time I answered the door when they came over and nobody was there except for baby Holly. I’m sure I would put money on the fact that that was Cranston. He likes to walk around in his underwear. He’s the guy. He’s the funny one and I love it. I love to have jokes with him.

We typically ask folks we interview if they could guest star on any show they wanted which would it be –

Betsy Brandt: Nurse Jackie’.

‘Nurse Jackie’ would be for you, but about fifty percent of the time, people answer ‘Breaking Bad’.

Betsy Brandt: I love that.

It’s either your show or ‘Mad Men’ pretty much.

Betsy Brandt: As an actor, if I weren’t on ‘Breaking Bad’ I would completely opt for ‘Breaking Bad’ because there’s the possibility for some crazy stuff and some great depth. Good costumes on ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Mad Men’ is a great show. I’m looking at it from an actor’s point of view, but I’ve had people that are celebrities say to me, ‘Do you think you could get me killed off the show? Could I just die a really grotesque death on your show?’ I tell them that anything is possible. Anyway, people ask me for a horrible death, to see if I can pull strings, and I’m like, ‘I can’t, but I’ll put it out there for you. I’m happy to do that.’

I’m really looking forward to the new season.

Betsy Brandt: I’m so excited for you to see it. Someone actually got sick during the premiere because it’s so intense. It’s intense. I say that. The show needs to have a warning. ‘Do not watch before bed for the faint of heart. Don’t try and have a meal while you watch the show.’ It’s really amazing. Every season I feel like right out of the gate we’re on fire and that’s how it is this season, too.

Marie Breaking Bad