Krysten Ritter says she was moved by Breaking Bad season 5’s reveal about Jane’s death. The AMC show about a chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-dealer from creator Vince Gilligan ran for five seasons from 2008-2013, and is widely considered one of the greatest TV series ever made. Ritter played Jane Margolis in nine episodes across seasons 2 and 3.
While Breaking Bad had a number of memorable supporting characters, few played as pivotal a role in the lives of the protagonists as Jane. She is introduced as Jesse’s (Aaron Paul) landlord and neighbor, but the two quickly become a couple, and while they only enflame each other’s struggles with drug addiction, it becomes clear they could have a happy life together if given the chance. However, in one of the show’s most heartbreaking moments, Walt (Bryan Cranston) allows Jane to choke on her own vomit one night as Jesse sleeps, and the impact of this moment stretches through all of the remaining seasons. Jesse is sent on a downward spiral the following season, while Walt takes a big step in the transition to villain promised by the show’s title.
When talking about her role in the series to THR, Ritter remembers being moved by the season 5 moment that Walt finally reveals his involvement in Jane’s death to Jesse. In a particularly dark scene, Walt agrees to Jesse’s execution, believing him responsible for the death of his brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) and loss of his fortune, and tells him about Jane as a final twist of the dagger. Ritter recalls feeling her character’s enduring presence was powerful:
Yeah, I think I was standing at the time, and it really moved me. The whole show, including Jane’s whole arc, really moved me. And the fact that she had such a big presence and was referenced in this pivotal moment was pretty powerful.
Elsewhere in the interview, Ritter discusses the filming of her death scene, which she describes as an emotionally heavy experience for everyone involved. Cranston, who garnered tremendous acclaim in the starring role, has since spoken about how difficult it was to perform the scene. “It’s an on-set experience that I still have a very visceral response to and can see pretty clearly,” Ritter says. “I can see Bryan going across that line and taking a minute and sitting in the corner. And I also struggled because I was in this chest cast, so I couldn’t get a full breath of air.”
That Ritter was moved by the scene in one of the show’s most acclaimed episodes, “Ozymandias,” will not come as a surprise to Breaking Bad fans. Jane’s death exerted such an influence over Jesse’s life that viewers were desperately awaiting the moment that Walt came clean, and for it to come at such a low-point in their relationship made it all the more emotional. Even though she had long been absent from the show by that point, Ritter deserves credit for this moment’s poignance as well – without her contribution, it’s hard to know if her Breaking Bad character would have made such a lasting impression.