Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul might have played expert meth cooks on Breaking Bad, but it took the actors a lot of training to make their actions and knowledge seem convincing. Cranston’s Walter White played the central role as a high school science teacher who risked it all by entering the drug trade with the help of his former student, Jesse Pinkman (Paul). To prepare for the roles, the actors were taught how to make real meth which gave a new meaning to method acting.
After a devastating cancer diagnosis, Walt decided that he needed a new way to financially support his family so he turned to cooking crystal meth. After he convinced Jesse to help, the duo purchased an RV to use as a rolling meth lab. With Walt’s knowledge of chemistry, he made meth that was impressively pure. The pair eventually switch to using methylamine which gave the meth a blue tint. The quality and purity of the meth known as “Blue Sky” became Walt’s signature product under his alias, Heisenberg. Walt and Jesse’s product came in huge demand and set them up with an opportunity working for Gus Fring in a superlab. That was until the risks and double-crossing ended in complete disaster.
Walt and Jesse spent a lot of their time in various meth labs throughout the five seasons of Breaking Bad. The teacher and student relationship returned as Walt taught Jesse everything he knew until one day the young partner had the ability to cook his own meth. Since so much of the show focused on the pair working in a lab, the show set up the real DEA as consultants to train Cranston and Paul. Not only did they learn the ins and outs of the dangerous drug, but they were also taught how to actually cook meth from skilled chemists. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan wanted the show to be authentic, but he made sure to protect the actors and the viewers.
The Science In Breaking Bad Was Intentionally Inaccurate
Learning how to cook meth was a part of the preparation for the roles on Breaking Bad, and the actors have been outspoken about how dangerous the experience turned out to be. This gave the stars a better understanding regarding the risks their TV counterparts were taking every time they cooked up a bath of their signature drug. Cranston and Paul might have had the precise information explaining the various components and instructions into how to cook meth, but Breaking Bad made sure the science on the show wasn’t totally accurate.
Dr. Donna Nelson, a college chemistry professor, served as another consultant on Breaking Bad. She once shared in an interview (via Mental Floss) that some of the science portrayed in the series was real, but “the goal is not to be a science education show; the goal is to be a popular show.” The series didn’t want to teach their viewers how to make meth or give them the motivation to enter the drug trade. In fact, pure meth like Walt’s would have been colorless, not blue. The meth used in the show was notably blue rock candy from an Albuquerque candy shop.