Laura Fraser is absolutely addictive as the oh so very bad, and sexy Lydia Rodarte-Quayle in Breaking Bad, so much so I was relieved to see her back in the last half of season five, giving the old boys club a run for their money, as she follows in Mr. Whites bloody footsteps.
While Fraser may be a fresh face on American TV, she is not new to acting, appearing in Vanilla Sky, as well as starring in some of BBC's most popular series and films, including Single Father, He Knew He Was Right, Talk to Me, and Florence Nightingale. Yet in Breaking Bad she is definitely no Florence Nightingale -- she is as badass and twisted as they come as Lydia, a lawyer with the heart of a drug lord, who has what you could call a rather complex and high strung psyche.
One of the reasons why Fraser is phenomenal in this role is that she weaves some cinematic magic that draws you in, and makes you believe she really is Lydia. Whether she's scared to death while on the verge of being killed by Mr White and his associates, or when she's orchestrating the killing of the new Meth lab crew she has signed on with, which isn't living up to her expectations -- and has to be led through the sea of bodies. All because while she can "pull the trigger," she can't look at the blood she's spilled -- a complicated mess indeed. All of which Fraser delivers up with a refreshing spin, so while you may not like Lydia, you can't wait to see what's coming next.
Yet as addictive as Laura Fraser may be on screen, in person she is equally so -- intriguing, funny, smart and utterly charming with a badass edge -- and she has a killer Scottish accent. In fact, she was back home this summer, enjoying her down time, eating vegan Haggis, and visiting family, who love the fact that she is on Breaking Bad. While she sounded full on Scottish to me, she lets me know that to some folks in Scotland she "sounds a bit American" these days, which may be due to the fact she now lives in upstate New York. Where in the summer she likes nothing more than exploring and swimming in the local rivers and water holes, and in the winter sledding down snow covered hills on old school sleds with her daughter and husband.
Fraser can't remember a time when she didn't want to be an actor, she loved it from the moment she started putting on plays in the neighborhood garden with the other children. So once she realized she could act for a living she was all in, heading off to The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. However, she left a year before graduation, because she couldn't wait to get on with acting, and it turned out to be just the right choice.
When the call came for Breaking Bad, Fraser knew the show was a huge hit, but she had never watched it, and didn't really watch it until way after she landed the role and was knee deep into her character and the show. Why? She admits to being just a little intimated by it all, but deep down inside she really wanted a clean slate, and for everything to be fresh and new for her. Fraser was keen on keeping it that way, but in the end she was too curious and after some prodding by a co-star she watched all five seasons in four days -- and she loved it.
In the beginning of season five, Lydia is frequently a woman on the verge of being killed, and it's often a surprise when she's not. Yet as much as it's a surprise for the audience, each and every time she makes it out alive it's a bit of a surprise for Fraser too. Who may have put just a little of her own fear of being killed off on the show into those scenes, and in turn giving them a really amazing reality tinged edge. For Fraser, this year happiness was staying alive. "I was over the moon I didn't get killed" she says.
While admitting that Lydia is a bit of an asshole at times, when asked how she feels about her, Frasier doesn't hold back "I Love her", she says, admiring the fact that she is "remarkably cheeky" and tough. Clearly shades of that cheekiness come across when you talk with Fraser, and as it turns out, she also weaved some of what she calls her own "character flaws" into Lydia. "I have to admit I can be pretty high strung and tightly wound" she says.
In some respects there is a bit of a kinship for her with Lydia, yet she also admits that there are some very real differences between them. "I am not as morally bankrupt as Lydia." she says laughingly. While she is clearly in love with Breaking Bad, and playing Lydia, as you may have guessed it was an "intense experience" for her. Lydia vibrates at a "very high frequency", and since Fraser puts her all into this role, her body often felt the after effects of the added stress. Yet Fraser wouldn't have it any other way.
Fraser is so good in Breaking Bad that the Emmy season buzz had her in the running for a well earned guest star Emmy nod. While she didn't get one this time around, for an actress who hasn't been on Hollywood's radar for long it's pretty damn amazing. Given her performance, and addictive qualities, I'm pretty sure that an Emmy is in Fraser's future, one way or another.
Special thanks to Angelo Kritikos for the pictures.
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