Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app

The Breaking Bad Interviews: Raymond Cruz
Tuco Salamanca on working two jobs at once and the show's popularity

submit to reddit

Warning: Contains spoilers for seasons 1 to 5A.

The Breaking Bad Interviews: Raymond Cruz

How did you come to be a part of the show?
Sharon Bialy was casting the show and they couldn't find anyone who could pull this part off. They called me and asked if I would look at it. I actually turned it down two or three times before I actually said yes to it.

How so?
They told me to read the script and I knew what I would want to do with it, and where I would want to take it, and I was already exhausted from working on (US cop drama) The Closer all season, so I didn't feel like working. I said no thank you, but Sharon called me and said, 'Please, let me send you the pilot.' So I watched it and thought it was so beautiful. It's shot like a movie, the great shots of the desert and the pace and the storytelling. I told them that I was interested in the part and they asked me to come in and audition, and I did.

Did you expect it to become such a memorable character? And did Vince Gilligan brief you before you took it?
I really wasn't expecting it to be more than a couple of episodes, and then they asked me to come back. I don't think they realised that I was a regular on The Closer, so I was committed to doing that show. What they ended up doing was shooting all my stuff on a Saturday and a Sunday, and then giving their crew Monday and Tuesday off so I could fit it into the schedule. I'd shoot all week on The Closer, fly out on Friday, shoot all day Saturday and Sunday and fly back Sunday night. It was terribly exhausting. It was the reason I stopped doing the part, it was too much. If you look at the part of what Tuco is and what the performance required, it was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Because he's so intense?
The reason I took the part was the challenge of it, I wanted to see how far I could push the character. The show got a lot darker after I was on there.
Oh yeah! When I looked at the part, I kept thinking that any second they're going to tell me, 'You can't do that.' But Vince would come up to me and say, 'That was great!' They were all for it. The reason I took the part was the challenge of it, I wanted to see how far I could push the character. The show got a lot darker after I was on there. I was sort of Walt's mentor on crime, giving him a window onto that world. I think for him, viewing the unbridled aggression and the power that came with that, it spurred him on and gave him a sense of, 'Maybe I can externalise what I'm feeling inside and people will listen to me.'

Did you distance yourself on the set to help stay in character?
When you're working and you're doing a character like this, you do distance yourself from everyone because you're so focused on what you're doing. It's not something you can rehearse. I would never rehearse, when we'd run the scenes, I'd basically just say the lines as we worked out the blocking and the cues. But I wouldn't do anything until the camera rolled. Because you can't, or you'd kill yourself. Even when he's not talking, when he's just listening, there's so much going on underneath. They'd say cut and I'd be tired from the subtext! There were no boundaries.

Was it a challenge switching between a good guy cop in the week to this total villain?
It was, because it was such a completely different character. My wife was not a fan of Tuco. It's not that I brought the character home, but you had that energy that you create, you alter your thought process, so there's always residue and my wife is very sensitive, she could feel it. She couldn't wait for me to be done with it. I was, like, 'YOU can't?' (laughs)

So did she watch the show?
Oh, she loves it. She would watch it and realise what I was doing.

Do you have a theory as to how it will end?
I love it, but I still need to catch up with the latest box set. I think it's going to be surprising, like The Sopranos. I think with Breaking Bad, something will happen, but I think we'll all be shocked.

Which moment are you most proud of?
The scene that we shot in the junkyard when I beat the guy to death - that was one of my favourite scenes.
I'm proud of every moment. The scene that we shot in the junkyard when I beat the guy to death - that was one of my favourite scenes.

It was fun to be such a bad guy?
I never saw him that way, I never saw him as bad or psychopathic. He was trying to maneuver his way through the world the way he looked at things. He had to deal with all these inconveniences, like Walt, who doesn't really have his shit together. I had the henchmen, I had Walt, Jesse the little puss, and trying to put it altogether. In the end he was just trying to make some money.

Why has the show become so popular?
I think it's done well with people because it seems viable in these economic times, with everyone so desperate to try to make ends meet. And it seems like cancer and diseases have come to the forefront in our generation and you see the problems it creates in problems. You almost watch the crippling of America as Walt tries to fight his way out, or hold on to what he has. Or just getting so fed up and saying, 'Fuck you.'

Did you base him on anyone?
No, it was a combination of Vince's writing and just my imagination. Because when you look at the character, and realise what you're dealing with, he's ingesting this chemical that really doesn't exist, this pure form of meth, so everything has to be exaggerated. It's almost like a superhero.

Empire Breaking Back Interviews THE BREAKING BAD INTERVIEWS
Head back to the interview hub for more exclusive interviews with the cast and makers of Breaking Bad

Interview by James White

You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list

Exclusive: Luc Besson Talks Lucy
'There is no bullshit with Scarlett Johansson'

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Talks What If...
On Gordon Ramsay, swearing and date movies

The 24 Best Film-Related Ice Bucket Challenges
The viral craze that won’t quit takes in some of Hollywood’s finest

Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Gamescom 2014: The 10 Most Exciting Games
Zombies! Guns! Tombs! Sheep! Watch the trailers right here...

Who Is Mack Bolan? Your Guide To Cinema's New Action Man
As Bradley Cooper lines up to star as the hero, here's your handy guide to his story so far

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)