- Jonathan Banks’ improvised slap during his audition for Breaking Bad impressed the producers and ultimately got him the role of Mike Ehrmantraut.
- The chemistry between Banks and Aaron Paul, who played Jesse Pinkman, contributed to the success of their on-screen duo and became one of the most beloved aspects of the show.
- The improvised slap reflected Mike’s no-nonsense approach to the world and solidified Banks as the perfect fit for the character.
One improvised moment in Jonathan Banks’ audition for the role of Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad got him the part of a lifetime, and underscores why he was so perfect for the character. Breaking Bad is not only one of the best TV shows of all time, according to fans and critics, but it also modified the industry landscape forever by changing the way audiences relate to series and, at the same time, the way TV products are made. The show’s greatness lies in Vince Gilligan’s writing, which perfectly combines plot writing and character writing. However, one of the cornerstones of Breaking Bad is its cast.
There is no need to point out that, for Anna Gunn, Bryan Cranston, and Aaron Paul, their Breaking Bad characters were the roles of a lifetime. However, Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman and Jonathan Banks as Mike were two supporting characters who gradually became so important to the show that they escalated to the point of having their own spinoff series with Better Call Saul. Mike, in particular, is a deep character and fan-favorite from both shows due to his superb writing. However, what takes Mike to another level is Banks’ performance, who, from the very beginning, proved to be the best fit for the role.
Jonathan Banks Slapped Aaron Paul During His Breaking Bad Audition (& It Was Improvised)
As Jonathan Banks told Decider in 2020, initially, there were no long-term plans for Mike’s character in the show. Instead, his role progressed gradually as the producers grew to like Mike through Banks’ performance. However, from the very first moment, there was something about Banks that foreshadowed the character’s potential in his hands. Interestingly, the way Banks got to audition for the part is rather fortuitous. In Breaking Bad‘s season 2 finale, the death of Jesse’s girlfriend Jane requires someone to clean up the mess, and Saul Goodman was originally supposed to do that job.
However, Odenkirk was committed to another job and wasn’t able to appear in the episode, so Breaking Bad needed another character to do the scene. Vince Gilligan and Tom Schnauz, who were familiar with Banks’ previous work, wanted him to audition for the role of Mike. In Banks’ own words, the thing that made his audition scene with Aaron Paul successful was a slap he gave him during the performance. Obviously, that slap wasn’t scripted, and is an improvisation that Banks revealed Paul still complains about today. However, there was something about that gesture that captivated the producers, who instantly wanted him to play the role.
This Unscripted Audition Moment Proves Jonathan Banks Was The Perfect Mike
The improvised slap was very important for two key reasons. In the first place, it showed the chemistry between Banks and Paul and the potential that the on-screen duo had. In fact, that pairing grew to be one of the most beloved in Breaking Bad, as it shows great comic moments of two opposite characters clashing but simultaneously growing to care about each other. And, secondly and most importantly, the slap also showed that Jonathan Banks was perfect for the role as it reflected Mike’s no-nonsense approach to the world quite organically, thus giving birth to one of Breaking Bad‘s greatest characters.