Michael J. Fox, Betsy Brandt
When faced with the upcoming conclusion of critical darling Breaking Bad last year, Betsy Brandt admits she felt a little unsure of what to do.
"I said to my husband, 'I don't know what happens after you do a show like this,'" she tells TVGuide.com. "I hope that I'm confident and patient enough to wait for something really good."
It was an understandable concern, albeit a short-lived one. After five years on the Emmy-winning AMC drama, Brandt is already back on TV starring in The Michael J. Fox Show (Thursdays, 9:30/8:30c, NBC) as Fox's TV wife, Annie. "If I didn't have this to talk about I would probably be depressed," Brandt says of her smooth transition from Bad's final eight episodes to the first season to the Michael J. Fox vehicle.
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After it was first announced in August 2011 that Walter White would close up shop after five seasons, Brandt had ample time to figure out her next move. "The last two pilots I had read, like in all the years since Breaking Bad started, were Breaking Bad and The Good Wife. I was like those are not realistic expectations," Brandt recalls.
However, The Michael J. Fox Show gave her hope. "I just loved her. When I read it, I kept saying to my husband, 'Oh my God, these are things I say to our kids, or to you,'" she says of reading the role of Annie. "I thought 'What an amazing show,' but I was like, 'That's a long shot.'"
Even so, Brandt went with her gut and submitted her audition tape, despite getting an offer from another new show. "I read this pilot and was like, 'That is an amazing pilot. It's going to be a huge hit, but I am not either of those women,'" Brandt says. "That's someone else's show and how lucky are they? But that's not my show."
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Brandt's tape quickly caught the eyes of executive producers Will Gluck and Sam Laybourne. "In the performance, she was babysitting her [real-life] son and so she's auditioning and her son just kept coming into the frame and out of frame," Laybourne recalls. "Finally, he just put his head on her lap and she did the rest of the scene just stroking her son's hair. She's so unfussy and we realized she's got this vitality."
Adds Brandt: "He kept coming in and I finally told my husband, 'Oh, just let me him go. She's a mom. It is what it is. What are you going to do?'"
Brandt was cast in January 2013 shortly after reading with her soon-to-be on-screen husband, Fox. "Once I met Mike, I felt like I knew in my heart that this was my job," she says. "I love this couple and I always loved that about my role on Breaking Bad: That I got to be part of such a really beautiful, real-life couple. There's ups, there's downs, there are things that are just so loving and wonderful and things that are just hard."
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Although Brandt was able to pull from her previous series — as well as her home life — for her latest gig, The Michael J. Fox Show still marks new territory for the actress as her first foray into comedy. "It's so fun to mix it up and for me, it's new and scary, but scary enough to be healthy," Brandt says. "I love that they are giving me a chance."
It helps that she has one of the most prolific comedic actors acting alongside her day in and day out. "He's prepared, but he's just so open and he's loose. He likes to try stuff," Brandt says of her Emmy-winning co-star. "Some days I'm just trying to keep up with him."
Although Brandt anticipates a "whole new level of mourning" now that Breaking Bad has officially signed off, so far, it seems she's filled the void quite nicely. "With Breaking Bad, to have been a part of something like that is wonderful. I don't want to jinx anything, but I have that same feeling about this show," Brandt says. "I hope it touches people like it's touched to me."
The Michael J. Fox Show airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.