'Breaking Bad' Star Michael Bowen on Becoming Uncle Jack: 'I Nearly Killed Myself'
Michael Bowen as Uncle Jack in "Breaking Bad"
How long did it take you to realize Michael Bowen, the actor playing the murderous Uncle Jack on "Breaking Bad," is also the actor who played Buck in "Kill Bill"? And Danny, the Other, on "Lost"? And Mark Dargus in "Jackie Brown"? And the Valley dude boyfriend (in a pink tuxedo) in "Valley Girl"?
Lots of viewers have been blown away by Bowen's fantastic, Emmy-worthy performance as the ex-convict uncle of equally deadly Walter White associate Todd, only to be blown away again when they realize how many previous roles the character actor has played.
Bowen — the son of '60s painter and counterculture activist Michael Bowen and actress Sonia Sorel, and half-brother to actors Robert and Keith Carradine — says playing Uncle Jack has led to a lot of fan response, including from police and women, which surprises him. "He's so wrong, so it's interesting," the actor said with a laugh. "I'm impressed with the viewing public. It's nice to know that there are sophisticated thinking people out there who understand that it's art."
Deborah Foreman and Michael Bowen in "Valley Girl" (1983)
Uncle Jack will certainly be a factor in the series finale — which Bowen will watch live with the rest of the show's cast at Aaron Paul's million-dollar charity event at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In anticipation of Sunday's "Breaking Bad" ending — and fans' dread over its impending departure from our TV world — Yahoo TV talked to Bowen about his cool, calculated interactions with Walter White, Uncle Jack's warm fuzzies for Todd, the wardrobe item that helped him create Uncle Jack, and how he continues to transform himself so completely for his roles.
A lot of viewers are surprised when they realize you're the actor they also know from "Lost," "Kill Bill," "Echo Park," "Magnolia," "Walking Tall," "Jackie Brown," "Django Unchained" ... all the way back to "Valley Girl." Even though you frequently play bad guys, you make them distinctive to the point that people don't always recognize you immediately. What's the secret to that?
You know the definition of luck is being prepared when an opportunity arrives. Like with "Echo Park," I had been driving my girlfriend, and my first kid, nuts at the time, doing this German accent I was practicing for an Audi commercial. Then I got this call [to audition to play an Austrian bodybuilder], and I just rattled off [pages of dialogue] with that accent, and they were all blown away by it like it was some revelation, so I got that. (Laughing) Then I had about three weeks to work out really hard. I went to the gym, went nuts, and got in good shape. I didn't use any drugs like steroids or any of that crap. It was just meat, eggs, water. Boom, boom, boom!