Charles Baker talks about playing Skinny Pete in AMC’s “Breaking Bad”

Charles Baker plays the role of Skinny Pete in the popular AMC series “Breaking Bad”. The show is now in its 5th and final season and Charles took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Media Mikes about his experiences working on the show and how he turned a background character in to a recurring role on one of televisions hottest shows.

Adam Lawton: What was it that first drew you to the role of “Skinny Pete”?
Charles Baker: “Skinny Pete” wasn’t even a role when I first started on the show. He was originally just called “Skinny Stoner” and I was hired for only one episode during season 1. It was supposed to be just a day player role and what drew me to it was I was going to get to work on television. (Laughs) It was a job and people really didn’t know a lot about the show or anything like that. I had heard some things about the show but didn’t know how phenomenal it was going to be or that I was going to be a part of it.

AL: Being the role was written originally for a one time appearance were you allowed to provide any creative input or direction?
CB: Because of how things happened so consciously in season 1 they just told me they were going to bring me back for another episode and would see how things went. My first scene was very small so I came in with how I thought the role should be played and the director who worked on that episode had his own ideas about the role so what we created for that bit part kind of dictated my role for the rest of the series. A lot of times before each scene I would have to repeat one of my lines from that first episode as a way to get myself back into character. I would always have to repeat “Yo my pops is a contractor” in order for me to fall back into that speech pattern. Each time I was on the show I was working with a different director who would have their own idea for what they thought Skinny Pete was. A couple directors thought of him as a hardcore, mean, scary guy while a few others saw him has this lovable, goofy guy. However they saw the character was how they directed us. We would have to find a balance in their in order to keep consistency while still getting what they were asking for. That is how the many layers of Skinny Pete happened.

AL: Was it hard working with different directors all of the time?
CB: It was a challenge but I think it was a great learning experience. I love things like that where I have to find it in myself to make things like that work. It was better for me in the long run I think because I didn’t get stuck in a rut. I was able to give Skinny Pete more levels and layers to play with. For me it was a lot of fun and similar to an improve exercise.

AL: What do you think has been the roles biggest progression?
CB: He has kind of grown a little bit. Pete has started to follow in Jesse’s footsteps without having to learn all the harsh lessons Jesse had to learn. I think he has seen Jesse become more responsible up until the point where we see him start to be affected by the actions of his crew. You see Jesse start to become more of a business man than a thug. At the start of season 5 you see Pete acting similar in a scene between him and Badger at a music store. That’s a new step for Skinny Pete I think. He is actually taking something serious instead of just playing around.

AL: What do you think is in store for Skinny Pete as the show concludes?
CB: I wish I could tell you. I don’t even know what’s going on. That’s all part of the brilliance in how the show is shot and how tight security is. In the past If I had a scene where I don’t speak and I am just in the background I got to see that script so I knew what’s going on. With this last season they have been using a stand-in for scenes that I may or may not be in. They just didn’t tell me anything. (Laughs) If I had dialogue then it was just me. I am not even sure of what scenes I am in or not. I am ok with that because I am a huge fan of the show and I want to be surprised just like everyone else. I know Vince and the people who work on that show will never let me down. They don’t have to tell me what I am doing. They can put a blind fold on me, tell me what lines to say and I know it will be brilliant. I will trust them on that.

AL: What was it like for you working with Brian Cranston both as an actor and director?
CB: Brian is a wonderful person. Since the beginning he has been the leader and father figure of the show. Vince keeps a very tight hand on everything that happens but he is not always around during filming so Brian is the foundation and keeps everyone together. Having him direct was very natural since he has been such a guide through everything.

AL: What do you think you will miss most about playing the character?
CB: I am going to miss a lot of things. Every episode was a new adventure for me. They opened up a lot of things for Skinny Pete and gave him a lot of responsibility. To be able to sink your teeth in to a character for as long as all of have on “Breaking Bad” is great. This was a first for me as I had never played a recurring role on a series before. It was like creating an alter ego who becomes like a friend. I will certainly miss that and having a job. (Laughs)

AL: Can you tell us about some of your other upcoming/current projects?
CB: I currently have a small recurring role on the show “The Black List” with James Spader. I play a character by the name of “Grey”. He was originally called “The man in the grey flannel suit”. Luckily they shortened that down. I like to compare the role to if James Spader was Batman I would be his Alfred. I am his go to guy. It’s definitely a switch from that of Skinny Pete. Grey combs his hair and wears a suit. (Laughs) They say he drives a Bentley but I haven’t been able to do that yet. I also shot a pilot for NBC called “Murder in the First”. We are just waiting to hear if that’s going to go through. I really think it will because it’s a great show and cast. I worked on an independent film in Texas titled “Flutter” that I just saw a rough cut of the other day. It stars Lindsay Pulsipher from “Hatfields and McCoys”. From what I have seen of the film it is beautiful. I don’t know when it is coming out but I hope it is soon as I think people will really enjoy it. Lastly “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” which stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara is out now and I have a role in that as well.

Nivek Ogre talks about Skinny Puppy and “The Devil’s Carnival”

Nivek Orgre is the lead singer in the band Skinny Puppy.  He is also known for working with Darren Lynn Bousman in his film, “Repo! The Genetic Opera” and “The Devil’s Carnival”.  Ogre took out sometime to chat with Media Mikes to chat about “The Devil’s Carnival” and also touring with Skinny Puppy.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you start working with Darren Bousman?
Nivek Ogre: I first met Darren through Joe Bishara. Joe was the musical producer for both “Repo! The Genetic Opera” and “The Devils Carnival”. He has been a friend of mine and fellow musician since back in the day. He went on to make a much better choice than I did by moving from playing in bands to doing sound tracks. After our last tour in 2007 we were talking and he asked me what I was going to do. At that time I pondered some of my fantasies. I was thinking about doing everything from being a pastry chef to being put into prosthetics. Being put into prosthetics has been one of my favorite dreams ever since I was a little kid reading Famous Monsters magazine. He told me about the work he was doing on “Repo! The Genetic Opera” and there was a character that is a face stealing rapist. I thought it was delicious. They had originally wanted someone else as Darren wanted Actors who could sing not Singer who could act. It was sort of an uphill battle for me but Terrance Zdunich and the whole crew were pulling for me. Terrance had heard of Skinny Puppy and I got to know Darren more over the course of production as I was wearing his wife’s face. One of the masks they had cast for me was of his wife Laura’s face. Whenever I had to ask him a question with that mask on he would look at me and run away. (Laughs) It was a bit of an odd friendship at first. I didn’t know what he really thought of me and was sort of out in left field. I was told to be very polite and not to pull any diva moves by the producers. I’m not sure what they thought I was. They were all very nice to work with. Over the time since Repo Darren had tried to get me in to some of his other projects however things never seemed to work out. We always kept in touch and on the side we started to realize we both had an interest in paranormal and other extremesort of perceptive qualities. We went back and forth over email and Darren told me he had this character called “The Twin”. They plugged me into that role and that’s how things all sort of happened.

MG: What can you tell us about your role as “The Twin”?
NO: The Twin is sort of an interesting character to me as I think he could have been played a lot of different ways. I myself tend to have too much empathy so I wanted to make him very sympathetic. I kind of saw him as one of the original shells that were shucked down to hell. He probably made a bargain with the man below and is now living in fear trying to escape his fate by taking on the appearance of another. However while doing this he tends to see the best parts of him which gave him a slight bit of humanity. He also would see their nastiest thoughts which ultimately would do them in. It is both an empathetic and vicious character. I see myself as the bait for Lucifer.

MG: What do you enjoy most about working in the horror genre?
NO: Everything I have worked on has been somewhat of an ensemble cast. The best part for me is I am playing a supporting role for a whole group of people. Sometimes it’s even for the main character. In the case of Repo I was supporting Paul Sorvino. We each had our own things but we all were Paul’s kids. It’s a huge kick because it allows me to dig into a character. I get to really be in the moment and react to everything around me. With Skinny Puppy I make it. I conceptualize the stage show, I perform it and I am there every night by myself. I have musicians on the stage but everything else is imaginary. It is a huge amount of fun to play up against people. I really enjoy the process and I love makeup effects. I am one of those guys who likes to be immersed in character. I don’t have to have my face showing as I love trying to push myself through a mask.

MG: How do you think your music on the soundtracks differ from your work with Skinny Puppy?
NO: It’s incredible. If you ever have any trepidation or fear about changing your style or jumping into something new do it whole heartedly. I tell people this all the time. For 26 years I have stayed in the character of Ogre and never stepped too far out from that. I didn’t want to piss fans off or have them think that I wasn’t bloody or weird enough. When I actually stepped out and pushed myself it gave me a whole new presence and character within my voice. It was a great thing.

MG: Can you give us some background on the upcoming Skinny Puppy live album?
NO: In May of last year I released an Ogre record and I have continued to tour that as my solo project. Skinny Puppy is recording a new studio album as we speak that is going to be titled “Weapon”. The live album I believe is coming out in July. That album kind of follows our ill-fated European tour. It was a great tour performance wise but we were pirated out of a large sum of money. The tour just went upside down on us. Everything that could go wrong did. I did get to take my girlfriend to Europe for the first time as she had never been so I guess there are two sides to the coin.

MG: Are there any other upcoming projects in the works?
NO: I am doing a movie at the end of April in Philadelphia that is going to be a throwback to the 80’s slasher films. The movie is titled “Scream Park” and we are filming it in an amusement park in Northern Pennsylvania. I am pretty excited about my role in that film.


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