David Ury talks about his memorable role as Spooge on Breaking Bad

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One of the best television series of the last ten years, Breaking Bad, had so many great actors and so many memorable scenes, but one of the most memorable was when Spooge the meth-head (played by David Ury) was crushed under a stolen ATM machine. I talked with David about his role on the show, as well as in Rob Zombie’s horror movie 31, and what he’s been doing while stuck at home.

“I found my quarantine project,” David told me, “which is taking ‘70s and ‘80s TV theme songs and making them into dramatic monologues.” If you’ve ever wanted to hear the upbeat “Facts of Life” theme song read in the voice of an evil mastermind, check out David’s monologues on YouTube.

His character in Breaking Bad was killed off in season two, but still is one of the most memorable, and Rolling Stone Magazine said it was one of the ten most memorable murders. What was it about that character, and the head-crushing ATM scene in particular, that made it so memorable? “I believe that was the first time in the show they really showed the horror of the effects of meth on the people using it,” David told me. “Particularly people with a small child. And I think Spooge was just such a gross guy. The writing really built the arc of that character so well, and the relationship between him and his wife, played by Dale Dickey. So when the scene ultimately comes I think it’s quite a payoff because of how that relationship was built up.”

The skeevy look of a strung-out meth-head took a great deal of transformation and more than two hours in the makeup trailer. “I was still figuring out the character, and once I was done in the makeup chair, that did it or me.” The transformation was so complete and so realistic, David was actually mistaken for a real-life meth-head and security tried to chase him off the set. “After getting the makeup done the first day, I stepped out of the makeup trailer and we were on location in a parking lot. I go to walk back to my trailer, and as I’m walking across the parking lot, security comes up to me and says, ‘Sir, you cannot be in here!’ That actually happened to me twice. The second time we were filming in the evening and I went to where the snack truck was, and they told me “No! Get away from here!”

Breaking Bad wasn’t the only time David go to work with Bryan Cranston. One of his first television jobs was on Malcolm in the Middle. “I had just come out to Los Angeles and I somehow got this tiny role on Malcolm in the Middle. “I didn’t have a line in the script, my line was just ‘I…’ and it was cut off. So I had one letter.” He remembers Bryan Cranston on the set of Malcolm from his first table read. “It was my first time at a table read and I didn’t know what I was doing. Bryan Cranston came in and came right up to me and looked me in the eye and shook my hand, and said ‘thank you so much for being here.’ And I never forgot that. I remember thinking at the time, if I am ever in this position, I’m going to be like this guy.”

Playing the murderous, chainsaw-wielding Schizo-Head in Rob Zombie’s 31, David says that Rob Zombie in person is quite different from what you might expect from a producer with such a horrifying imagination. “Rob is super fun to work with,” said David. “He’s a nice, soft-spoken guy. He allows for a lot of input from the actors about how you want to do something, and he’s will try to design the character around your personal skill set and attribute.” In 31, Pancho Moler plays Sick-Head, a Nazi clown. “It was not in the script that he spoke Spanish, but when Rob found out that he spoke Spanish fluently, he said, ‘we have to work that in there.’ So Pancho ended up doing most of his lines in Spanish and it was quite terrifying. And for me, I speak Japanese. When Rob found out, he let me try to come up with a way to work that in, and I did a folk song that I sing in the background as I’m hunting with my chain saw.”

While the traditional acting path is to go straight to Hollywood, David took a slightly different detour, moving to Tokyo when he was still in college, where he had a role on a Japanese comedy show. “A talent agent came to our little international student club room at the university I was at, and put up a sign for people to try out for TV. I did that and ended up doing a Japanese comedy show, playing the oddball foreigner who speaks Japanese.”

David is also the producer of a viral YouTube video called “What Kind of Asian Are You?” The video explores some of the misconceptions and stereotypes people come up with. The actor in that video, Stella Choe, comes across a clueless jogger who insists on asking here “Where are you from?” Even though she’s from California.

David has plenty of exciting projects in the works. “I have one thing that’s coming out, I guest star on a show called Woke that’s going to be on Hulu. After that, I’m hoping things get back to normal and there’s work to be had. I’ve been doing a lot of guest roles and recurring guest roles. The last show I was on a lot is called Lodge 49, which is a fantastic AMC show that’s on Hulu now. One of the highlights of my career was working on that show, but sadly that got cancelled last season. I was in about 17 out of 20 episodes. So my goal is to move up a notch to be a series regular, or just get another recurring role.”

 

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