Bryan Cranston Was In The X-Files, See Who He Played

Bryan Cranston appeared in The X-Files episode "Drive" in which his character takes David Duchovny's Agent Fox Mulder hostage.

By Michileen Martin | Published

bryan cranston x-files
Bryan Cranston as Patrick Crump in The X-Files

Long before he became a household name for his part in AMC’s Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston appeared early in Season 6 of The X-Files as a character just about as far from Walter White as you could imagine. Cranston played Patrick Crump in “Drive” — one of the show‘s best episodes — as the victim of a government test gone wrong who takes FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) hostage in an attempt to save himself. “Drive” would become integral in securing Cranston his career-changing role as Walter White, aka Heisenberg.

“Drive” actually fooled a lot of viewers for the first few moments, making them think the show had actually been interrupted by live coverage of police pursuing criminals. The criminals in question turn out to be Bryan Cranston’s X-Files character and his wife, who ends the cold open with her head slamming against the inside of a police car and exploding.

We eventually learn that Crump’s wife died of the same ailment that is soon troubling Bryan Cranston’s X-Files character — pressure building in the ear that for some reason can only be alleviated by moving westward as quickly as possible. Crump takes Mulder hostage and forces the FBI Agent to drive west. As Crump’s condition worsens, Mulder needs to drive faster and faster to free him from the pain.

bryan cranston x-files
Bryan Cranston and David Duchovny in The X-Files

While the Bryan Cranston in this X-Files episode is the same guy who played the lead of Breaking Bad, Walter White and Patrick Crump are very different people. Both have less than friendly relationships with law enforcement, and that’s where the similarities stop. Crump is an uneducated consumer of anti-semitic conspiracy theories who, upon learning Mulder’s last name, is immediately concerned as to whether or not it’s a Jewish name.

So it’s understandable that at first Mulder doesn’t get along particularly well with Crump (well, that and the whole hostage thing, of course), but as their ceaseless journey west continues, the FBI agent becomes convinced that Crump and his wife are the real victims. Even when Crump’s pain gets so intense that Mulder could easily subdue him, the agent instead keeps driving west in the hopes that he can save him.

Bryan Cranston’s appearance on The X-Files was a wonderful departure from what audiences were used to from the star. Before “Drive,” Cranston was best known as the bumbling father on the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle.

bryan cranston x-files
Bryan Cranston in The X-Files

“Drive” would also play a big role in the casting of Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan–Breaking Bad‘s creator and a producer on The X-Files when Cranston appeared–was able to use the episode to aid in his pitch to cast Walter White. New York Magazine reported that it was a viewing of Bryan Cranston in the X-Files that convinced doubtful AMC executives that he was the right choice for Walter White.

If you’re interested in checking out “Drive” and you happen to be a Hulu subscriber, you’re in luck. All 11 seasons of The X-Files are currently available on the streamer.