As part of TLU's 2019-2020 Brown Cultural Events Series, actor RJ Mitte spent time with Dramatic Media students prior to his presentation on November 7 in Jackson Auditorium. Best known for his role as Walt Jr. on the Emmy award-winning AMC series “Breaking Bad,” Mitte led a powerful and informative session in the Studio Theatre about what students can expect in the entertainment industry.
From advice and methods to acting exercises, he provided an intimate glimpse into what it takes to make it in Hollywood, specifically drawing from his childhood and a diagnosis of cerebral palsy (CP). Because of his own journey, Mitte’s message was one of connection and welcoming.
“More often than not, you wouldn’t believe what you can do if you just engage with people,” he said. “When I look around this room, I don’t see strangers; I see creators. I see industry leaders. There’s a reason acting and art have been around forever. They are very important and powerful tools that allow us to remove ourselves from normality. They give us drive and inspirations. Everyone in this room can affect other people’s lives both directly and indirectly.”
Mitte fielded questions from aspiring actors, writers, and directors, often tying everything back to the relationships we form, whether those are personal or with a character someone is portraying or writing.
“While every character I pick is someone I can relate to, I also really enjoy playing characters who are the furthest thing from who I am,” he said. “Acting is a feeling. Who in here has ever fell in love at first sight? You know, that moment when everything falls out and there’s just a silhouette. Those are the types of feelings I want you to harness. Once you learn how to do that, you can always tap into it.”
One of the most anticipated topics was hearing about what it was like working with Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston who portrayed the iconic “Breaking Bad” antihero Walter White.
“He was great about giving me advice, but there is one clear piece I remember him talking about,” he said. “There’s a scene where he’s lying in bed, dying of cancer and he’s all beat up. He told me in that moment, he recalled his own childhood when his dad was dying from emphysema. He was able to place that emotion from then into the scene. He told me you can draw on sad situations and utilize them. While that’s not always the healthiest approach to acting, you can refine that and grow from it.”
Overall, his emphasis was on how getting to what we want is about going through what we need, even though it’s difficult at times.
“I never wanted my CP to define everything about who I am,” he said. “We are responsible for our choices and how we work through things. Being in school is part of a path you chose so when you get to the end you can see everything before you. You can see the haunted forest or the rainbow forest or Emerald City. But at the end of the day, you can choose which path to go down.”