Britton: It's really rewarding and surprising, particularly playing a role in "Friday Night Lights." That was something that I think really impacted the women who saw it. And, you know, looking back on it, it was sort of built for it, I guess. I mean, I was playing a high school counselor and there was a lot there. And I was in this great marriage. And, you know, I have people still, to this day, come up to me and tell me that they want their kid to see the scene where I talk about sex with my daughter. So certainly when "Friday Night Lights" was over, I definitely was almost stunted in a way by having this sense of responsibility that I needed to somehow maintain, you know, this role model or this image that I was putting out into the world. Thankfully, then I went and did "American Horror Story," which kind of just demystified all of that and made it a lot less precious and gave me a good sense of humor about what I'm doing in the world.
You're all with a group of people where each week, you don't know what family member's going to be around the following week. What is that like for you?
Lincoln: Well, it is a bit of an occupational hazard, you know? And I didn't sort of read the small print when I decided to do the job. We've lost so many amazing friends. And it is a family. It does feel like that. You galvanize, and you spend so much of your waking hours with these people. And it is incredibly sad that you have to say goodbye to these brilliant characters first and foremost, you know, and then dear friends that you've made. I lost my wife in this last season, Sarah Wayne Callies, who's the greatest leading lady I've ever had the privilege of working with. [Quickly to Moss and Britton] I'm looking forward to working with you two ladies soon.
Moss: Until us.
Lincoln: Until you guys.
Moss: No offense.
Lincoln: It was heart-wrenching when I got the call from the show runner directly after he made the call to her because it has so many reverberations, not just on me. It's because she's got a young child like we have. Her husband is great friends with my wife. It's not only the ramifications for your character, it's this domino effect with this family that you work with.
That particular scene (when Rick returns to base to discover his wife has died) was heartbreaking and gut wrenching —was there some of that feeling in occupying that scene?
Lincoln: Yeah. I was saying goodbye to a dear friend. I did a long preparation — for two hours — while people were setting up. By preparation, I mean, I listen to music and get myself into a place. I took my contact lenses out because I thought, maybe I will cry in this. And I just wanted to honor her departure as well — and it was the kid that did it for me. I looked at Chandler Rigs, who plays my son, this genius child who's been discovered out of nowhere. And I had said to the director before, "I think this is the moment where you have to see the man that has been so strong, fall. I want to see him drop his gun. I want to see him kneel. The two things that have driven him the whole season, his motives operandi have been driven by two people: His wife and his son. One of his legs has just been taken away." And so we sort of vaguely plotted it. And it was the kid that undid me. He just looked at me and gave confirmation silently that she was gone. And it just went into a different place, you know?
Acting is such a craft. I'm so used to seeing you as Peggy and then you did this miniseries, "Top of the Lake," which was about as far from "Mad Men" as you could get. I mean, this detective who's very haunted and gets involved with some twisted people. Your character was so raw and had to bare herself in every way. What was that experience like?
Moss: It was super fun, getting the chance to fight and run, and scream and cry — and "Mad Men" is so subtle, that's the beauty of it. And it's not easy to do, that kind of acting, by any means, but it's a very specific kind of style. And just to get the chance to use other muscles for me was so awesome. And then the fact that it was obviously Jane [Campion], somebody that, I mean, anyone would want to work with. And she's sort of known for her kind of female performances. I didn't even know if I could do it. And Jane didn't know if I could do it. And then once I kind of half convinced her that I could, then I went through that thing that I'm sure every single person here has gone through, where you're like, "Oh ..., they think that I can do this." And then eventually, scene by scene and day by day, you start building a character.
Playing Hal in "Malcolm in the Middle" and then doing Walter — which character was more challenging for you?
Cranston: Well, I loved both those guys. I think the thing that all actors are really looking for is opportunity. I've just been extremely fortunate to be able to do that on a spectrum that is—one's way over here, and one's way over here. It's just basically different aspects of your own characters that you're exploring. For instance, with Walter White, I said as a joke I think he's misunderstood. But the truth is I think everyone is capable of doing severe damage to themselves or to society or to another human being depending on the condition of that person. Sociologically, this is where I went in working on this guy, finding out how is it possible to start a character as a nebeshy kind of sad sack who got a bad hand dealt to him and cancer and he's got a son who is special needs and he doesn't make enough as a teacher, so he's gotta have a second job. And how does that guy become a killer, an absolute killer? And I think all of us are capable of being that guy if the right buttons were pushed, if the sense of desperation were present. If I knew really well what makes each one of you tick and I got to see what you're afraid of and I started pushing the buttons, all of a sudden, we'd all have those reactions.
For Ryan, it seems like his chance for redemption or opportunities for redemption are far, far off. To occupy that, how is that for you?
Bacon: I was really drawn to the flaws of who he would be, starting with this heart thing, this pacemaker that he has. When I first met with [series creator] Kevin Williamson, he said, "Well, when you were fighting with Joe Carroll, you were stabbed in the back. And so you have a limp." And I said, "So let me just get my head around this. You just had me sign a six-year contract, so I'm gonna be limping for six years?" And he said, "Well, you know, there was this draft where he had this pacemaker." And I said, "That sounds amazing. What does that look like?" And he pulled back his shirt. And I said, "That's it, man." Because it's metaphoric, of course, but it's also—every time he goes into some kind of a physical thing, whether it's a fight or a chase or whatever, there's always this kind of ticking time bomb of losing your life. And to that, we added the vodka. And to that, basically, sadness, you know, and isolation. So, you know, I like that. (laughs)
There's also the issue of violence that's been a hot-button issue. Your show certainly has had that. Every second of your show has it. What is your feeling about the violence on the show and the controversy of some of that?
Bacon: Well, you know, if we're making a scary thriller that's about a serial killer, there's gonna be some violence. I guess the question is violence in the media and should it be part of the discussion? Yeah, it should be. And you can also turn the television off if you have young children. I also feel like it's just a piece of the discussion in terms of violence in our society right now, to 100% blame it on TV shows is moronic.