The UK has tons of great crime dramas, whether it’s BBC’s Sherlock, which retells the 100-year-old tale for the modern age, or the psychological drama, Luther. British crime shows are completely unique from those in the US. However, the caliber of US crime dramas from HBO and ABC are unrivaled, thanks to the sheer amount of money that goes into them, and that’s no different when it comes to Breaking Bad.
The set, costume design, storytelling, and outlandish characters in Breaking Bad are unlike anything seen in a British drama, but that doesn’t mean the island doesn’t have the talent to fill Bryan Cranston and company’s boots.
Mike – Tom Wilkinson
Though Mike (Jonathan Banks) has one of the biggest kill counts in Breaking Bad and is ultimately a pretty bad guy, the audience still sympathizes with him. He’s old and clearly regrets most of his actions in his later life, which makes him one of the most conflicted and complex characters in the show.
Tom Wilkinson is a similar age to Banks, and he has the same regretful, melancholy look, not to mention that he can play a bad guy extremely well, as proven in Batman Begins.
Marie – Rachel Weisz
There isn’t too much to Marie (Betsy Brandt) besides her equal love of purple and Hank, but she’s one of the funniest characters on the show, especially with the way she gets on Hank’s nerves by collecting minerals. The character is superbly acted by Brandt, and it’d take a lot to match what the actress brought to the table.
However, Rachel Weisz, though she doesn’t do much television work, would kill it as Marie, as her dry humor in movies like The Lobster is exactly the kind of approach that would be perfect to bring Marie to life in a British version of Breaking Bad.
Hank – Robert Graves
Easily most familiar for playing Inspector Greg Lestrade in BBC’s Sherlock, the role of Hank (Dean Norris) isn’t too dissimilar of a role to that of Lestrade. They’re both law enforcers, though neither of them is the smartest, but the characters’ similarities aren’t the only reasons why Robert Graves should play Hank.
Greg Lestrade is a great character, but he was always sidelined and didn’t get much of a story arc in any of the Sherlock seasons. However, by playing Hank, the DEA agent who is tasked with hunting down his own brother-in-law, he’d finally get exactly the story arc he deserves.
Kuby – Simon Pegg
There have been some shining examples of stunt casting in TV, and one of them was with Kuby (Bill Burr), one of Saul Goldman’s fixers, as Burr is one of the most world-famous comedians right now.
Keeping up the stunt casting for the same role, though Simon Pegg might not exactly be a comedian, it’d still send fans into a frenzy if the goofball-turned-spy appeared as Kuby. And it isn’t just stunt casting, as Simon Pegg is actually perfect for the role too.
Saul Goodman – Damien Lewis
With Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) being the slimiest character on the show, Damien Lewis doesn’t really scream the same vibe, as he was a charmer in Homeland, a billionaire playboy in Billions, and he even portrayed Steve McQueen, the coolest movie star in the world.
However, he’s one of the greatest British actors working today, so he could easily play a down-on-his-luck lawyer. And most of the characters Lewis plays, including the ones mentioned, have some seriously seedy undertones.
Gustavo Fring – Charles Dance
With so many credits to Charles Dance’s name over the past 35 years, most are antagonistic roles in some shape or form. And as Giancarlo Esposito has become the go-to actor to play level-headed villains ever since his role of Gustavo Fring, Dance is almost the British version of Esposito, as he starred as the evil Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones, Benedict in Last Action Hero, and many others.
Considering how Dance usually plays his characters as well-mannered but totally sinister, he’s the best option to play the best villain of Breaking Bad.
Todd – Matt Smith
Todd (Jesse Plemons) is a tough character to play, as he’s the worst Todd in TV history, due to being completely psychotic and having absolutely no social skills whatsoever, but at the same time, he’s kind of goofy and sort of charming.
Being millions of Doctor Who fans’ favorite Doctor, Matt Smith’s bread and butter is goofy and charming. Not only that, but his career post-Doctor Who shows how easily Smith can play a psychopath, as he plays a psychotic criminal in Lost River and the T-5000 in Terminator Genisys.
Skyler – Olivia Colman
Olivia Colman isn’t just Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, she’s the queen of British television too. From first featuring in sitcoms such as The Office, Peep Show, and Green Wing, she clearly loves television, as even after having won an Academy Award, she still presses on and stars in several different shows concurrently.
And though Skyler doesn’t exactly have the funniest lines and is actually one of the most serious characters in Breaking Bad, nobody could make the role her own more than Colman, as she can play more serious and dark roles just as well, if not better.
Jesse Pinkman – Alfie Allen
Alfie Allen rose to fame from playing Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, one of the biggest badasses in a show full of badasses. And though Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) isn’t necessarily a badass (far from it in most cases), Alfie has shown he can act a fool too, as he plays Iosef Tarasov in John Wick and spends the whole movie hiding from the Baba Yaga.
Allen has developed into such an incredible actor, and as Jesse, he seems confident in the first season but slowly becomes derailed the more he gets involved with Walt, finally becoming a giant ball of emotions in the finale, and the Jojo Rabbit actor would be perfect for the role.
Walter White – Peter Capaldi
There are two sides to Walter White: there’s family man Walt and then there’s the evil drug-slinging meth-king, Heisenberg. Bryan Cranston perfectly played both sides and remains one of the best depictions of a man turned completely evil. Not only has Capaldi proven he has the warmer Walter side by portraying the Doctor in Doctor Who, but he would also be a killer Heisenberg too.
Peter Capaldi has perfectly shown off how great he is at being wholly evil, as his iconic role as the evil spin doctor, Malcolm Tucker, in the political dramedy The Thick Of It (which was the influence for the more famous Veep) is one of the greatest performances of the 21st century. It shows how much power he can have over people, just like Heisenberg.