Actress goes from ‘Breaking Bad’ to comedy

  • By B.J. Hammerstein Detroit Free Press
  • Thursday, October 3, 2013 5:56pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Betsy Brandt still can’t believe that “Breaking Bad” won its first-ever best drama Emmy one week before the show went off the air.

A year ago, Brandt, best known for “Bad” character Marie Schrader — wife of DEA agent Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and sister-in-law to the crystal meth-cooking drug kingpin, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) — lived in Los Angeles (and Albuquerque, N.M., where “Bad” was filming six months out of the year) with her husband and two children.

She was actively looking for her next job knowing that the show’s conclusion had been planned and the legend of Walter White, one way or another, would end in September 2013.

Brandt, who loves her “Bad” cast and crew to death, wasn’t in Los Angeles celebrating with them. She was watching the finale from New York City, where she and her family now reside.

The next day she went to work on NBC’s “The Michael J. Fox Show,” where she plays Annie Henry, the wife of the “Family Ties” and “Spin City” sitcom legend who left series TV more than a decade ago to manage his escalating Parkinson’s disease.

“Bad’s” Marie, whom Brandt describes as a huge “pain in the butt,” is a character that she loved from the beginning. And although she didn’t get as much screen time as the show’s other players, Brandt brought a tremendous amount of depth and compassion to a flawed, onetime kleptomaniac, “purple-loving freak.”

In the fifth season, as DEA agent Hank went directly after Walt and the White family secrets were revealed, viewers saw how important Hank and Marie were to each other.

Brandt said that she couldn’t be happier about going from the dark and dramatic “Bad” to a traditional family comedy where Fox is front and center.

“I’ve never done a half-hour sitcom or, really, comedy on stage or on film. I’ve never done it on TV either. And I was hoping that a comedy was in the cards for me and this just kind of happened.”

On “The Michael J. Fox Show,” Fox plays a New York City news personality who is ready to get back to his career after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

“You know, one of the most amazing things about him — and not everybody can do this — but he really is an amazing actor whether it’s comedy or drama,” she said.

“He’s an icon, but he’s also just really good at being a guy. And people relate to him because of that.”

Reactions to the show have been mixed because the new show’s humor — which includes jokes about Parkinson’s — is inconsistent.

Brandt, for her part, isn’t thinking about how big the moment is. She’s just enjoying the new experiences and creative people she has been fortunate enough to build relationships with.

“You know, this is a crazy business,” she said. “I just look at what right’s in front of me and go for it. And that’s probably both a good and bad thing.”

Watch it

“The Michael J. Fox Shows airs at 9:30 p.m. Thursdays on NBC.

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