The AMC crime-drama series ‘Breaking Bad’ (2008-2013) tells the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a disillusioned chemistry teacher who becomes a methamphetamine manufacturer after discovering that he has Stage III lung cancer and his family will be in deep debt after his death. Walter White Jr. (RJ Mitte) is Walt’s son with his wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn). Walter Jr. has cerebral palsy and uses crutches. Even though the narrative naturally expands as the series progresses, Walter Jr. remains an important part of the story. If you are wondering whether Mitte has cerebral palsy in real life, we got you covered.
Does RJ Mitte Have Cerebral Palsy?
Yes, Mitte has cerebral palsy. He was born through an emergency cesarean in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1992. Mitte was not breathing at the time of his birth and suffered brain damage. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was about three years old, and his adoptive parents ensured he would receive treatment for it. The doctors put a cast on his legs, waited a couple of weeks, took off the cast, bent the foot as much as possible, and reapplied the cast. This continued for several months. Now, unlike his show counterpart, Mitte doesn’t use crutches, even though he used them along with his leg braces throughout a major part of his youth.
In 2006, when Mitte was 12-13 years old, he relocated to Los Angeles after his younger sister drew the attention of people in the entertainment business. Series creator Vince Gilligan based Walter Jr. on a friend he knew in college. That student also had cerebral palsy and died. Asked why it was important to Gilligan to cast someone with Cerebral palsy to portray Walter Jr., Mitte said in an interview, “I think it was very important. I think now I look like a role model to some CP actors, which is an honor. Everybody if they have CP on their resume, it looks like, oh this kid is wheelchair-bound or he’s slow or something like that, which is not true. It is important for someone who is playing this role to really do the role.”
Mitte also revealed that he had to stop his treatment to portray Walter Jr. “It was very hard to regress,” he said “I had to stay up real late so I could learn to blur my speech more. I had to learn how to use crutches so it didn’t look like I’m faking walking. I didn’t want to look like just another faker because I really have it. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it the full way. No matter if you’re regressing or if you’re trying to make it look bad, you need to still try to do it right. It was hard at first, but after a while everybody would help me out. For example, I used to walk on my toes a lot when I was a kid because I could barely move my feet, so when I was learning to portray Walter Jr., my mom would remind me about that. It was a big help.”
Besides ‘Breaking Bad,’ Mitte has worked on projects such as ‘Switched at Birth,’ ‘The Oak Room,’ and ‘The Guardians of Justice.’ Mitte serves as an ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy and worked as a presenter of British Channel 4’s coverage of the 2016 Rio Summer Paralympics. Mitte acknowledges the role ‘Breaking Bad’ plays in his professional and social works. “So I’m very lucky to be able to have that and utilize it in my daily life. When it comes to community outreach and helping people and wanting to inspire others, ‘Breaking Bad’ just amplifies all of it,” the actor told The Independent.
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