Actor RJ Mitte speaks at Marquette University.
Actor RJ Mitte speaks at Marquette University. (Photo: Jeff Pawlinski)

Ten things a "Breaking Bad" fan learned from RJ Mitte's appearance at Marquette

My family and Facebook friends know too well that I'm not just a "Breaking Bad" super-fan, I'm a true believer. I'm the annoying guy who's been evangelizing to anyone within earshot to watch this spectacular drama since the pilot premiere in 2008.

But now many of my previously irritated friends are thanking me for the addiction. For me, "Breaking Bad" is perfect television, the best drama in television history period.

So I was thrilled to attend actor RJ Mitte's speech Thursday night at Marquette University's Varsity Theater/

Speaking in front of 1,200 enthusiastic students. Mitte, who plays Walter White Jr. on the show, appeared at MU's Speaker Series and focused his remarks on disability advocacy with an anti-bullying message. Mitte has a mild form of cerebral palsy and has been subjected to both bullying and an uneasiness by some to his condition.

I learned these 10 things about Mitte Thursday night.

1) Mitte is a handsome, articulate, stylish, charming and funny presenter. He's clearly at ease with his celebrity and admittedly is enjoying its perks. But he's grounded by a strong family and his humble Louisiana roots. His mother travels with him and assists in event coordination.

2) Mitte, who just turned 21, literally came of age on the show. Although Breaking Bad takes place over a fictional two year period, Mitte filmed the pilot when he was only 14. His wise crack in the pilot episode about veggie bacon smelling like band-aids set the course for his character's frequent breakfast scenes and endeared him to many.

3) Mitte, who spoke extemporaneously for 45 minutes was bullied as a child. He once had his hand broken by a bully's boot stomp after beating the kid in a pick-up basketball game.

4) Mitte was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 3 and endured excruciating therapy sessions over many years. He had to wear bindings, leg braces and casts on his legs while developing as a child and would often break his casts in a freedom protest.

5) Mitte is a legitimate advocate for the disabled. He serves as the national youth ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy and other not-for-profit organizations dedicated to serving those with similar conditions.

6) Mitte's message resonated with Marquette's Jesuit teaching of helping the less fortunate and seeking opportunities to assist others through community service.

7) Mitte, like his peer audience, is a frequent user of social media. However, he wisely cautioned his audience to use the medium for the betterment of others as hurtful remarks tend to come back around. What happens on the internet stays on the internet.

8) The cast of Breaking Bad developed a life-long bond with each other and the adult actors were very protective of Mitte.

9) Mitte is a good sport. He signed box after box of breakfast cereal, hammed it up during the meet and greet and happily posed for every cell phone pic requested.

10) Spoiler Alert: When I complimented Mitte on his tackling ability in last week's gut wrenching episode, he said this: He got so worked up on the first take that he literally threw Bryan Cranston (his dad Walter White) across the room and felt bad for his over aggressiveness.


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