Tim Surette from TV.com prompted a discussion of character Walter White amongst members of the Breaking Bad cast at the San Diego Comic-Con yesterday, following the show’s season five première at the event. The first episode from the fifth season airs in North America tonight on AMC, but before then, the leading actors have opinions on Bryan Cranston’s fascinating character and how he has developed since the pilot. Fair warning: spoilers for seasons one through four here.

Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk – that’s Mike and Saul from the show respectively – agree that Walt is “a normal guy” who “just happens to deal in crystal meth and kill people”. They attribute that path down to his anger and resentment towards, for example, his old business partner, who became rich thanks to Walt’s genius, from which he made no money. Series creator Vince Gilligan backs up that idea: “Walt’s always had those weaknesses, those foibles, and bad character traits within him.”

“I think the cancer diagnosis freed him,” he continued, “liberated him from a great deal of fear that he felt, which you would think is a good thing. To live a life, a life of fearful self-constraint seems like a terrible thing. And for the most part it probably is. But he’s gotten a little too free these past two seasons, and the darker side that I think was probably always within him is just raring to get out.”

That doesn’t make Walt a sociopath, though. Gilligan thinks that “[Walt] felt bad about watching Jane die”, an issue which Walt didn’t fully confront in the show; for example, Jesse still doesn’t know that he was there, and could likely have saved her life, had he reacted in time. Combined with the Lily of the Valley story arc from the fourth season finale, there’s a lot of tension between Walt and Jesse which will be addressed this coming season.