Heisenberg lookalikes walked around the cemetery as Aaron Paul happily took photos with fans in front of that famous RV. The DJ spun Motown hits and classic rock tunes. As the sun began to set, I looked out at the sea of fans who sat anxiously on their blankets and lawn chairs. There was excitement in the air but it was tinged with a bit of sadness—though it had nothing to do with the tombstones lurking in the distance. For many fans, like myself, we were sad that our beloved Breaking Bad was finally coming to an end. It was time to say goodbye—goodbye to the characters we had grown to love (and hate) over the past 5 seasons.
So on Sunday September 29th, I, along with hundreds of other fans flocked to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to bid farewell to Breaking Bad and watch the final episode of the series. Aaron Paul and Cinespia hosted the special event, with tickets sales benefitting the Kind Campaign, an anti-bullying non-profit founded by Lauren Paul, Aaron Paul’s wife. The event sold out in just 32 seconds and had people selling extra tickets on Craigslist and eBay for $700-$1000. In fact if it hadn’t been the kindness & generosity of my dear friend Aimee (who gave me her tix), I wouldn’t have been able to attend! As Bryan Cranston later joked about the cemetery screening, “people are dying to get in here!”
When we first arrived at the cemetery, I couldn’t believe the line of people that wrapped around the block. People had been waiting for hours before the gates opened at 6:30pm. I later found out that a group of people at the very front of the line had camped out all night for their precious spot! While we waited in the bike line, I spotted this awesome group of cosplayers.
Whether they were dressed as Hank or the Pink Teddy Bear,** I loved seeing all the fans cosplaying as their favorite characters. My boyfriend even brought out his Heisenberg costume for the night!
Once inside, we immediately made our way to the show’s famous “Krystal Ship” RV, which was parked for photo ops. As we got closer to the line, I gasped with delight—it was Aaron Paul himself posing for pictures with fans! He seemed very gracious and happily posed for several photos. He then thanked everyone, said goodbye, and as he quickly tried to exit, a swarm of fans and photographers followed him.
A few minutes later, I spotted two other familiar faces…Skinny Pete and Badger!
I was really excited to meet Charles Baker, who plays Skinny Pete. He and Badger bring a great energy and comedic sensibility to the show. Baker is also a talented pianist and accomplished theatre actor. There’s a fantastic article in the Hollywood Reporter on how different he is from the character he portrays.
If you’re wondering why I’m wearing a blue wig, it was my homage to the “Blue Sky” on the show. I didn’t have enough time to put together a costume so I threw on the wig and turned a plastic baggy into a hair bow. I also didn’t have any blue rock candy on hand so I filled the baggy with blue jello mix. The consistency looked nothing like rock crystals but at least the color looked accurate!
Larry Hankin, who played Old Joe the junkyard owner, was also there for the screening & party. When he saw my boyfriend he exclaimed, “Hey, it’s Bryan!”
At around 8pm, a screening of the pilot episode was about to begin. Suddenly, an RV (just like the Krystal Ship) drove up to the side of the stage and parked. With smoke billowing from it’s top, the RV door opened and out came Aaron Paul, RJ Mitte (Walt Jr.) and Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring)! All wearing yellow hazmat suits, they took the stage to thunderous applause. Aaron Paul thanked everyone for supporting Breaking Bad and the Kind Campaign. Then he perfectly commenced the screening by saying, “yeah bitch. Yeah science. Yeah Breaking Bad. Let’s do this!”
I hadn’t seen the pilot episode in years so it was really interesting to see how much the show has evolved and how far these characters have fallen. At around 9:30pm, Aaron Paul and Vince Gilligan (the show’s creator) took to the stage to introduce the final episode of Breaking Bad. Paul then welcomed Bryan Cranston, who had just flown in from Boston!
Cranston thanked everyone for attending the screening and for supporting the Kind Campaign—which raised $1.8 million dollars for the event. “With 1.8 million you can take a helluva a trip to Belize!” Cranston joked, in reference to the “Buried” episode from Season 5.**
It’s clear that both on and offscreen, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have incredible chemistry. (No pun intended.) Cranston shared that Paul is, “a man who always understands the blessings in life and how lucky we are.” Regarding Paul’s work ethic on set, Cranston said, “he is a person who is always willing to do the extra work. Always willing to be there for you and to give 100%, even when he’s off camera.” Cranston then looked at Paul and said, “as good as you are an actor, you’re an even better person. I love you.” Cranston and Paul hugged as the audience cheered wildly.
Then the final episode of Breaking Bad began! I won’t share any spoilers for those of you who aren’t caught up on the season yet. I will say that watching the finale with hundreds of other Breaking Bad fans was a fantastic communal experience. We all cheered, gasped, and got weepy at the same key moments in the episode. And as the final credits began to roll, we leapt to our feet for a standing ovation. The show’s finale truly delivered and after 5 epic seasons, Breaking Bad ended exactly as it should have. Bravo!
The night ended with a Q&A session led by Jimmy Kimmel, featuring Cranston, Paul, Vince Gilligan, RJ Mitte, Giancarlo Esposito, Bob Odenkirk (Saul), and Jonathan Banks (Mike). All the actors expressed how lucky they are to have been a part of such a special show. “This is as good as it gets,” Jonathan Banks remarked. Cranston spoke about the experience of working with the same cast and crew over the course of 6 years. Spending 13-14 hours a day on set, “you can’t help but get intimate with these people. These are family members to us.”
Since a lot of the Breaking Bad cast and crew were in the audience, Jimmy Kimmel invited them all onstage. Before long, the small stage was packed with people hugging and chatting. I even spotted Tuco and one of the Salamanca twins, Luis Moncada, who I worked with years ago on an independent film! I got a chance to say hello and it was pretty cool seeing him surrounded by fans and signing autographs. Congrats, Luis!
And with that, the night was over! At least for some of us. The cast and crew headed to the after party, which was already in full swing at another part of the cemetery. All in all, it was a night I’ll never forget. It was fitting that my Breaking Bad journey ended at the cemetery that night. I would have liked for the show to continue and I will miss spending my Sunday nights with Walter White, Jesse, and the gang. I could go on and on about how sorry I am to see this amazing show end but instead…I’ll just shut up and let it die in peace.
**The Pink Teddy Bear is a recurring motif in Breaking Bad. It first appeared floating in the White’s pool in Season 2, Episode 1.
**As a euphemism for killing Hank, Saul asks Walt, “have you given any thought to sending him on a trip to Belize?”.