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TV Junkie Interview: Betsy Brandt from 'Breaking Bad'

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Betsy Brandt (right) plays Marie Schrader, sister-in-law to Bryan Cranston's Walter White in AMC's "Breaking Bad". Season finale is tonight at 10pm.


Betsy Brandt (right) plays Marie Schrader, sister-in-law to Bryan Cranston's Walter White in AMC's "Breaking Bad". Season finale is tonight at 10pm.
Tonight marks the season finale of AMC's "Breaking Bad" at 10pm. We've been very fortunate over the last year in having been able to interview all the regular cast members of this incredibly compelling series: we talked with series stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul a the 2009 Emmys Nominated Performers Reception, and we spoke with Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and series creator Vince Gilligan at the season 3 premiere event in Times Square NYC, and we've since interviewed Dean Norris, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, and Bob Odenkirk.We were able to cap off our good fortune by speaking with charming Betsy Brandt who plays Marie Schrader, wife of DEA agent Hank who was grievously wounded about halfway into this season. The now very serious and somewhat angry Marie is in stark contrast to what we thought was a superficial and flighty character when we first met her in season one. In our conversation Brandt set us straight on the fact that the first season held clues to how her character was going to develop, something that holds true for the other characters as well. We urge you to check out the stunning season finale tonight at 10pm on AMC.

TheTVJunkie: It really feels like the show exploded this season - and hey, you were on "The Soup" - so you have arrived!

Betsy Brandt: [Laughs] I'm a huge fan of "The Soup"! But sometimes, since I don't watch that much television, and I don't really watch any reality TV at all, when I watch what is on "The Soup" I just can't believe it, it's hard to believe that shit is real, that those are real shows, and that people watch it week after week and that people would choose to be on it. Those blow me away, that would be my worst nightmare to be on any of the shows "The Soup" makes fun of. That stuff if so toxic, you can't have it in your life.

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TheTVJunkie: What's it been like, moving your family to New Mexico to do the show?

Betsy Brandt: I really do split my life between LA and New Mexico. My daughter loves it out there, and would choose to live out there full time if she could. She goes to a fantastic school and the community has been really good to me personally and our family but the community is also really supportive of the show. There's not a big studio out there so we have to shoot a lot more on location than if you were in LA. If we need a shot in a drug store, we have to go on location. The community has been really good about that, because that can be disruptive and a pain.

TheTVJunkie: It also makes the show that much more real.

Betsy Brandt: It makes the show much more real and it's really smart of them to do because the industry brings in a lot a money. But it makes it more real because it looks different. It's kind of like, you know, when you're in LA and you see these people who've had all the plastic surgery and they all start looking the same, they have the same eyes, the same puffed up lips, and everything - TV shows can feel that way also, since they are using the same sets or the same studios over and over. "Breaking Bad" looks unique because of this, and I think it's really beautiful [in New Mexico] as well.

TheTVJunkie: There's been so many changes the characters have gone through this season. We talked about this with your co-star Dean Norris and his character Hank Schrader, and similarly your character Marie started out in season 1 kind of like a joke, what with her kleptomania and superficial behavior but now she's become a serious character, perhaps the one most connected with what could be called "real life".

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Betsy Brandt: This is what I love about the show, nothing comes out of nowhere in the show. If you look at season 1, Maria is the one that says that "maybe Walt shouldn't get chemo if he doesn't want it" - there's many times that she's the voice of reason. You can really trust the text and the writing in this show which you can't always do when you're working in TV or even in some movies, it's not always consistent or that clear or thought out. It's really neat to have this in "Breaking Bad". Even in Marie's crazy side, it's all there, it's just that we've gotten to know her better and all her sides. None of these people are one dimensional.

TheTVJunkie: Marie has also been a lot more confrontational this season, she's the only one really directly asking Skyler "what the heck is going on with you?!"

Betsy Brandt: She wants to know, she likes to be in the know, it's her family, she cares about her family. I think she's a little gossipy, but she really cares about what's happening.

TheTVJunkie: It's been great to see more of her.

Betsy Brandt: I'm so lucky. When you do a TV show, hopefully it will go on for a long time, but when you do a movie you have a pretty good idea about what you are going to be doing but in a TV show season 6 could be totally different than season 1. I'm lucky because when we started there wasn't a lot to her but what I did get from Vince [series creator Vince Gilligan] was that he was so clear about it and really open to what I wanted to do with her. It's been really neat to watch her develop but we've been careful because the decisions we make now are decisions we will have to live with in the seasons to come.

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I think it's been that way with all of the characters - there's something always anchored in reality, nothing comes out of the blue. Think back to the pilot, Skyler lies to someone about a bill that she said she paid but she hadn't because they didn't have the cash. It's a small thing, but it's huge because that seed was planted early on. It's been exciting for myself as a viewer to see these seeds and connections to the characters revealed!

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The season finale for AMC's "Breaking Bad" airs at 10pm tonight.