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کتاب: زندگی در چند بخش / فصل 57

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  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
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متن انگلیسی فصل

Walt

The robbery at Sandia Crest didn’t mar its beauty. And early on I said to Vince that it might be cool to shoot something up there. The landscape was so different in look and feel from our other locations around Albuquerque. An image of someone dragging a dead body through the snow came to me. I thought the juxtaposition of the red blood against the white snow would look striking on the screen.

I don’t know if Vince remembered me bringing it up, but we did indeed end up shooting there in the last season. When Walt is holed up in a cabin in New Hampshire, we used Sandia Crest as the stand-in for the Granite State.

Walt is taken into the deep woods and told that he’ll be apprehended if he leaves the property. Left alone, he’s imprisoned in the snowy wilderness with only a barrel of money for company. A fitting end.

Ed “The Disappearer” shows up with supplies. I ask after my family, desperate to know how they are. Ed says that Skyler is working as a part-time taxi dispatcher for money and still has custody of the kids “for the moment.” She’s using her maiden name, presumably trying to expunge any trace of the name White from her memory and résumé.

Robert Forster played Ed. Of course I remembered Bob from 1979 when I was a production assistant in the special-effects department on Alligator. I remembered stuffing plastic bags of fake blood into the cavity of a pretend reptile, and I remembered how excited I was to do it. I remembered sitting in the van with him, shoulder to shoulder, how starstruck I felt. He was a famous actor. I was just a kid. But he’d been so kind to me. I’d never forgotten that. I’d run into him a few times over the years and reminded him of our encounter. He didn’t remember—didn’t even pretend to, that’s not Bob. And I didn’t expect him to.

In those last few days of shooting Breaking Bad with him, I reflected on the arc of Bob’s career. He did it right. He understood the ebb and flow of this business. An accomplished movie star, he now does smaller roles and enjoys every minute of it. He never developed a sense of entitlement. On set he said quite often: Happy to be here. He meant it.

In our last scene together, Walt offers Ed ten thousand dollars to stay a couple of hours and play cards with him. He’s that desperately lonely. He just wants a little company. Deadpan, Ed doubles the fee and reduces the duration. Walt agrees. The price doesn’t matter. What’s money to him anymore? Ed deals the cards for five-card stud. The first two up cards randomly come up kings.

The director, Peter Gould, hadn’t yelled “Cut,” so we both stayed in character and continued playing. Bob improvised and announced the cards: “Two kings.” The irony isn’t lost on Walter White. For a short period of time, he’d felt like a king. Now . . .

• • •

Aside from Ed’s visit, I am all alone in that cabin. Robinson Crusoe meets Scarface. I have a full beard. The cancer has come back. I can feel myself slipping away. Should I just wait for death to take me? Is this, after everything, the sum total of my works and days? A barrelful of money I can’t use and can’t get to my family? Everything for naught?

I know my family is disgusted. I feel ashamed. I was hoping I could convince my son to find some measure of forgiveness in his heart, hoping I could say I was sorry. I was hoping I could find a way to leave them something. Money isn’t everything, but it’s a lot. My family needs it. There has to be a way to get it to them without the Feds tracing it.

I lay eyes on the box of Ensure meal replacement drinks Ed brought me to help to keep my weight up. I empty it and fill it with as much money as it will hold. I trudge through the thick snow, holding the box tight to my chest. I find a dive bar. I find a pay phone. I call my son at school. I try to tell him: Everything. I was doing it for you, I tell him. I’m sending you the money so the Feds can’t trace it.

I tell him once: I love you.

I never want to see you again, he says. I want you to die.

I weep. I feel the waste of my life. My good intentions got derailed by greed and hubris and rage and resentment. I was the danger, all right. A danger to myself. To everyone around me. So much pain and loss. I haven’t left a mark. I’ve left a stain. I am . . . nothing.

I wept as we filmed that scene. When we finished, I was spent. Exhausted and a bit traumatized. It was also my birthday.

We shot Breaking Bad on thirty-five-millimeter film. Few shows, if any, do that anymore because of the expense. And the technology has improved so much that you can get similar quality on digital. We shipped the film to the lab back in LA as we shot it. Each day, we knew exactly when the flight that was carrying the film was leaving, and we’d have to “break” the film, box it up, and get it to the airport. A courier then picked it up at LAX and took it to the lab, so that the next day the digital copies were ready. The assistants loaded them up so our editors could see what they had. That way, if there was a problem with the film—say, a scratch—we could still reshoot before we were long gone from that location.

While the film of that wrenching scene with my son was being shipped from Albuquerque to LA, it fell off the back of a luggage cart. Then one of those tanklike tows that push and pull airplanes to the gates ran over the film cans. The film didn’t just get exposed. It got pulverized. Ruined. The insurance company covered it, but we would have to go back and shoot the scene again.

When I first heard that some film got ruined, I thought: Oh please, let it be the something like the scene where I walk into a store and put the milk down on the counter. Or a scene where I’m driving my Aztek. Not the scene where I hear from my son that he wishes I were dead.

But of course.

The day I had to reshoot that scene was challenging. I felt myself reenacting, rather than acting. I remembered what I did the last time and tried to extinguish that from my mind, but it was hard. I needed to find a new path back to those depths, and I couldn’t.

But it had to be done. So we did it again. And again and again.

As an actor, you have to be able to endure repetition without losing emotion or energy. You’re hysterical? Do it again. You’re experiencing the most piercing loss? Do it again. And again. How to be honest and true and feel all of those feelings on command? Then repeat? You just do. To get through, to communicate, to move your audience regardless of the problems, that’s the job.

So I wept. And I wept again. And I found a new path.

• • •

Walter White was more alive in the last years of his life than he had been in the previous fifty. He went from utter failure to great power. In the final episode, Skyler says: Give me a break, you didn’t do it for your family.

“You’re right,” Walt answers. “I didn’t. I did it for myself. I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really—I was alive.”

He was. I don’t agree with the decisions Walt made or the actions he took, of course. But I feel for him. If you have two years to live, you don’t let them cut your balls off. You go out fighting. That’s what he did.

He was alive.

And when I was doing the series, so was I.

Saying good-bye to Breaking Bad was incredibly difficult. Doing the last episodes, the characters were all dying or driving off into the sunset. Walt was saying good-bye to Skyler, and from a distance he was watching his son get off a school bus, he was exchanging a final, meaningful look with Jesse. They both knew it was good-bye.

And we knew, too. I was Bryan saying good-bye to Aaron, and to Anna and Betsy and Dean and R. J. This was likely the last time most of us would work together.

I suppose you could be on a terrible show and still feel loss when it ends. But to be on a show that was so respected, not just by us but by the world? And to feel so intensely connected to one another? We all knew we might never have that feeling again. But we had to move on.

Good-bye, Lydia.

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