The Daily Targum sits down with actor RJ Mitte
Ever since AMC’s “Breaking Bad” took off, so has RJ Mitte’s career. Mitte, who plays Walt Jr. on the hit series, has coped with cerebral palsy his whole life and now uses his fame to advocate for disabilities awareness and acceptance for all.
Before hundreds of students entered Trayes Hall on Douglass campus to watch him talk last night, RJ Mitte sat down with The Daily Targum to discuss his career and of course, breakfast foods.
Daily Targum: You’ve mentioned in interviews before that you were bullied as a child for your cerebral palsy. How were you bullied? How do you think bullying can be prevented?
RJ Mitte: Bullying will never be prevented until [equality] is pushed forward, that’s the thing. There will always be people trying to suppress and bring down other people, and that’s inevitable. The trick is to stand behind the people that you are around, stand behind the people that you care about.
When I was a kid, I had my hand broken, I had my foot broken, all kinds of stuff. I had braces on my legs. They always thought I was an easy target, but what they didn’t realize is I played soccer with my braces. I would run miles in my braces.
There are many forms of bullying. There’s name calling, there’s bullying behind keyboards, there’s physical bullying. It all varies depending on what’s happening, mostly who you’re around.
If you don’t have the support system, if you don’t have your friends behind you, people will try to attack you more. No matter what your age range is, you will always constantly have people try and bring you down. I don’t care who you are. Being in the industry, that’s what people do all the time. I see it in auditions all of the time.
When you see it happen, get involved. Be the advocate that you would want someone to be for you, because at the end of the day, we’re all each other has.
DT: After acting on “Breaking Bad,” people around the country know your name. Do those who bullied you treat you differently now?
RM: I had a very good support system. My mother was one of those mothers who’d be at the school immediately. It wasn’t always fun, but she was always there, and that’s what was a big support.
Being on the show — most people didn’t recognize me for years. They’d say, “Oh, you’re on Breaking Bad.” We’ve been filming the show for seven years now, and the last year it’s become ridiculously popular. We just got into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the highest rated television series in the history of television. It’s weird to see that. I haven’t had the full effect of it yet.
At the end of the day, people will always treat you differently no matter who you are. The trick is learning why they treat you differently. When people see a physical ailment, they are trying to treat you differently. The thing is, we all bleed, we all cry, we all love, we all enjoy what we do. It’s just weird to see how people relate to that.
DT: How did you get involved in acting?
RM: I was 13 at the time [and] my little sister was one. She’s nine now, I’m 21 now. … An agent actually saw her at a water park and was like “You’d be perfect for this Lucille Ball campaign.” She has bright, curly, red hair and at the time, it was cut really short.
She met with the manager and he was like “well bring her out for pilot season.” I came out with her for pilot season the next time. When she was booking an agent, the agent was like, “Oh, what about you?”
My biggest aspiration was working on a boat or joining the military. I didn’t have any aspiration to be an actor. And now I couldn’t have my life any other way.
DT: What happened afterward?
RM: I moved to Los Angeles. I got the agent. About a week later, they put me on as background on “Hannah Montana.” I did background on “Hannah Montana.” They bumped me up to a regular “Student,” which is not “Background.” It’s a little bit better pay. They treat you a little bit nicer — not really.
You get to watch how a set is created, how a set works, how a set functions. I was on “Hannah Montana,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Weeds” and several other shows. About six months later, I booked “Breaking Bad.” It just took off from there.
DT: What plans do you have for the future?
RM: I have a movie in Paris I’ll be shooting sometime next year. We shot the teaser already, which was insanely fun. It’s a comedy. I shot a movie [three years ago] that will be coming out called “House of Last Things.” It’s a supernatural thriller.
I’m just staying busy. I love what I do. Being an actor is such an amazing job because you can be someone you’re not.
DT: Are you satisfied with the way “Breaking Bad” ended?
RM: Yes — well not, not really. It’s sad because it’s ended. It’s sad to see it go. I love how it ended. It’s an inevitable ending. I don’t know how people are going to feel about it, but I’m really excited. …Everything comes together, everything plays out.
DT: What was your funniest memory from being on set? Most emotional?
RM: Everyday, it’s the most funny and most emotional scenes. They really are. Everything we do in “Breaking Bad” is extremely emotional, but at the same time, we laugh, we have a good time, we enjoy ourselves. I was so new to this industry when I came aboard, and now I couldn’t imagine my life without it.
We had our ups, we had our downs. We had our scenes that were just very interesting breakfast scenes. … You’ll have the darkest moment of our show, but you’ll still have this subtlety of laughter to it. It will still have this light-heartedness, even though they’re dissolving someone in acid.
DT: Why is it important to eat a balanced breakfast? To add on, how do you like your eggs?
RM: It’s funny, Walt Jr. only has breakfast a handful of times on the show, but everyone has latched onto the breakfast thing so tightly. It’s funny because that’s kind of all Walt Jr. has at the moment.
The only time the family is calm and happy, and no one’s trying to kill someone, no one’s cooking meth, no one’s yelling at anyone, no one’s trying to light anyone — well, not necessarily.
Breakfast was the mellow scenes of “Breaking Bad.” It all started off in the morning and it ended horribly.
And for eggs, over easy, come on. I don’t eat that much. I eat like one meal a day.
DT: Would you be friends with Walt Jr.?
RM: Yeah. I don’t know. It’d be weird. I’d be like “You look a lot like me.” I think him and me would get along just fine. It varies, I think he’s a bit of a smart ass, but I’m a bit of a smart ass.