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UNSUNG HERO OF THE YEAR

LAVELL CRAWFORD

BODYGUARD OF THE YEAR

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As Breaking Bad's mighty bodyguard Huell Babineaux, American actor/stand-up Lavell Crawford has achieved cult status and earned himself a devoted following. We love him, you love him and Saul Goodman loves him - or at least he did, until Huell's narcolepsy started writing snooze cheques his body couldn't be bothered not to cash. Eager to find out what the man who played him made of all this Huelltide goodwill, we called Crawford and quizzed him on the Breaking Bad year just passed. Ladies and gentlemethheads, meet Empire's Bodyguard of the Year...

Warning: this interview contains Breaking Bad spoilers.

Empire Unsung Hero Of The Year: Lavell Crawford

What was your Breaking Bad highlight of 2013?
I think it was just the way they ended the show. Seeing who died, you know?

Did you ever think that Huell might end up dead?
Well, it could've happened. I don't know what Bryan (Cranston, Walter White) would have done if he'd found out I'd told the DEA where the money was.

Where were you for the finale?
I went to the big party Aaron Paul threw for his wife's charity (anti-bullying charity, Kind Campaign) at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in LA. I didn't get to see the grand finale because I had to catch a red-eye flight out, but I got to see everybody and take a picture with some fans.

Who's been the most dedicated fan you've met?
It would have to be the couple who were all dressed up in Hazmat suits. Even their baby was wearing one, it was hilarious.

What sort of impact has the show had for you, and on your career? Are you getting a lot of offers?
The main question I get right now is, "Did you ever get out of the safe house?" They never gained any closure on that.
Yeah, I'm getting a lot of auditions. I just finished taping an episode of the sitcom The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams, and I did an episode of a sitcom with Rebel Wilson called Super Fun Night. I just filmed that last month, and that was pretty fun. I've got a couple of movie offers on the table too, so I'm just waiting for everything to just start, but the doors are opening. Breaking Bad was like a golden ticket for a few things.

Is Robin Williams a fan of the show?
A big fan. He just told me, "Great job," and said he loved Breaking Bad, and that he just couldn't believe how good it was. Every day he was coming up to me and talking about this or that, asking "How'd you feel when...?" So that was pretty cool. I had a couple of pizzas with him, too.

Was there a wrap party for you?
They did have one in Albuquerque, but we didn't make it to that. They had that one in New Mexico, then they had a big event at the Sony Studios for the opening of the second eight episodes [of season five], and I was there for that. It was just great being a part of it all. You run into people you didn't even know were fans, who'll sneak up and whisper, "Hey, I love you in that show."

What do fans most want to talk to you about?
The main question I get right now is, "Did you ever get out of the safe house?" They never gained any closure on that.

Where do you think Huell is now?
I think after a while, he got a little edgy. He's a big guy, there's no food in the refrigerator, he ain't gonna stay around (laughs).

You don't think the DEA keeps a well-stocked fridge?
Right, right. It wasn't his type of neighbourhood, so he just got out of there.

There are 'Free Huell' t-shirts. Do you have one of those?
No, I haven't got one, but I want to get one. I'd like to wear it in my comedy shows.

Empire Unsung Hero Of The Year: Lavell Crawford

When we first met Huell back in season four, we heard him before we saw him. Tell us the idea about that and his irritable bowels. Did that all come from discussions with the creators?
Yeah, basically. As far as heavy breathing goes, well, he's a big guy. Most of the time the job is very sedate. He doesn't do much, so he's got to go to sleep.

What would a Huell spin-off involve?
I don't know, I made a sketch called Huell's Rules, but that was just a thing they did on Funny Or Die. That was pretty hilarious, but I don't know. I think Huell's spin-off might show him as a bouncer or a bodyguard in security who lost his job, trying to catch the guy...

Do you have a favourite Huell moment?
I guess one of my favourites was when we scared the hell out of Ted Beneke. That was a great moment. And then I liked the moment when Jesse found out about everything. I knocked down the door - they didn't show me really knocking down the door, but in the rehearsal, the door was really locked and I knocked it off its hinges. Yeah, that was so cool.

Did you get to keep any of the fake cash Huell rolled around on?
Nah, they wouldn't let me do that.

Where can fans see you next? You mentioned those sitcoms...
Yeah, check me out on that, and I've got a couple of movies too. One, Evil Nature, starts filming in January. I'm playing a lazy cop opposite Dan Fogelman's over-zealous cop, and we're fighting this evil form making possessed pumpkins. It's hilarious. And I've got one with Anthony Mackie. I'll be playing an football player with a bad temper.

What Breaking Bad prop would you give someone as a Christmas present?
Maybe a little bit of that blue magic. (Laughs)

Not for children, hopefully.
No, no, not for the children, just the adults. Kids, I'd just get them a Walter White hat, something like that - maybe a couple of little baby security jackets.

MORE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE YEAR


KATIE SACKOFF

WARRIOR OF THE YEAR

LYNN COHEN

TRIBUTE OF THE YEAR

LAVELL CRAWFORD

BODYGUARD OF THE YEAR

MARTIN COOGAN

JINGLER OF THE YEAR

MAX MARTINI

BADASS OF THE YEAR

MICHAEL SLOVIS

EYES OF THE YEAR

OF MONSTERS AND MEN

SOUNDTRACK STARS OF THE YEAR

TIM KEY

SIDEKICK OF THE YEAR

TIM WEBBER

MAGICIAN OF THE YEAR

THOMAS LAW & ZACHARY BAILESS

YOUNG PEGG AND FROST OF THE YEAR

Interview by Phil de Semlyen

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