‘Breaking Bad’ Actors Before They Were Stars


Two episodes into Breaking Bad‘s final season, the Internet is still having a field day with the show. Here at Flavorpill, we’re just as obsessed as everyone else — in the past week alone, we’ve celebrated its many Emmy nominations, peeked inside its writers’ room, and even ranked its characters by moral reprehensibility. But few Breaking Bad-related items have amused us more than the handful of amusing clips that have emerged of the show’s actors before they were famous. After the jump, we round up a few that have already made the rounds — Gus Fring on Sesame Street, Jesse Pinkman on The Price Is Right — along with some hilarious videos we tracked down ourselves. Click through to find out which of your favorite Breaking Bad stars were in Gremlins and Total Recall.

Bryan Cranston, Coffee-Mate Pitchman

In this 1988 commercial, a young Bryan Cranston is stuck working late at the office and finds something that might just help him get through the night. “I knew plenty of guys around the office used it all the time, so I gave it a shot,” he tells us. No, wise guy, it’s not crystal meth — it’s Coffee-Mate! But damned if Cranston wasn’t as convincing a pitchman 24 years ago as Walter White is now.

Anna Gunn on Seinfeld

Before she was Skyler White or Deadwood’s Martha Bullock or The Practice’s Jean Ward, Anna Gunn — like so many soon-to-be-famous actresses — played one of Jerry Seinfeld’s many disposable girlfriends. In a 1993 episode called “The Glasses,” Jerry confronts Gunn’s Amy after George says he spotted her kissing Jerry’s cousin Jeffrey. But it’s George who turns out to be wrong, as usual, having made the ID without his glasses. Cranston, meanwhile, had a recurring role on Seinfeld as Tim Whatley, the dentist who converts to Judaism just for the jokes. (Pardon the odd, er, remixed video above — it’s the best one we could find of Gunn as Amy.)

Aaron Paul on The Price Is Right

In our favorite clip on this list, Aaron Paul shows up on The Tonight Show and is confronted with his 1998 appearance on The Price Is Right. His hilariously high-energy reaction to being picked as a contestant confirms our suspicions that Jesse Pinkman is a lot less removed from Paul than most would assume.

Dean Norris in Total Recall

You probably don’t recognize Hank Schrader in this clip from Paul Verhoeven’s cult 1990 sci-fi flick, so allow us to point him out for you. You see Tony, the one-eyed guy with the reddish skin tone and the unfortunate facial crease, who isn’t thrilled with Arnold Schwarzenegger intruding on his hangout spot? Yup, that’s Dean Norris.

Jonathan Banks in Gremlins

Although he’s one of those character actors who has been around for decades in guest starring roles and TV movies, Banks remained fairly obscure until he was cast in CBS’ 1987 crime drama, Wiseguy. Three years before that, he appeared in Gremlins, and you can spot him near the end of the clip above, in yet another role as a police officer.

Giancarlo Esposito on Sesame Street

We assume this sweet Sesame Street sequence about going to camp was filmed just before Gus Fring shoved Big Bird into a deep fryer, chopped him into pieces, and breaded him with batter from one of those buckets where he hides the blue meth. Also: knee socks!

Bryan Cranston, bisexual husband

And finally, because we just couldn’t leave out either Bryan Cranston clip, here’s what is supposedly his first TV performance. Vulture tracked down this video of the actor playing the bisexual husband of a pregnant woman on the hilarious Lifetime show Crisis Counselor, and it is no exaggeration to say that he carries the entire scene. Of course, compared to what Skyler White has had to deal with, this lady’s grievances are pretty paltry.