Charles Baker is best known for his portrayal of Skinny Pete on Breaking Bad, and while he only appeared in fifteen episodes, his character left an impression on audiences as one of Jessie Pinkman's drug-dealing henchmen. 

In this interview, we talk about his time doing voice-over work for FUNimation. Most people don't know this about Charles Baker, but he voiced characters for some hugely popular anime series including, One Piece, Evangelion, and Fullmetal Alchemist

In our conversation with Charles Baker, we talk about Skinny Pete's iconic piano solo and how long he had to practice for the scene. We touch a bit on life as a stay-at-home dad, before getting into Baker's lifelong passion for music. You can watch or listen to the full conversation below, or read a condensed transcript of our conversation. 

-This interview has been edited for clarity-

eBaum's World: We have Charles Baker here, who played Skinny Pete on Breaking Bad. Obviously, everyone knows you from Breaking Bad, however, they probably don't know that you have a pretty extensive history of doing voice acting as well. Most notably voiceovers for One Piece, Evangelion, and Fullmetal Alchemist. So my first question is are you personally a fan of anime? And if so, do you have a favorite?

Charles Baker: I'm a fan of everything. I'm a fan of lots of stuff. I'm not overly a fanboy kind of fan and I have kids who are really big fans of some of those shows. When I was watching a lot, Fooly Cooly was one of my absolute favorites. There's been a few.

EBW: How did you get into voice acting work? Is there a trick to doing anime specifically?

Charles Baker: Getting into it was really through friends that were doing it. I knew a local band in Fort Worth, Texas, a band named Spoonfed Tribe. They were friends with some of the audio engineers for FUNimation and I met them through them. And I was working on a project with a mutual friend and I happened to mention that I would love to do that. And it turns out, he was a director of one of the episodes. He called up and put me on as a walla actor, doing random background voices for shows. I started doing that, and then for One Piece I was doing a minor character, but because of the way the original version was coming to us, they weren't getting all of the information about the upcoming episode. So what they thought was a minor character, ended up becoming a major character later. And they were like, "Well, this guy's already doing the voice." And so I got to come back and do that, but I've had so many different roles on One Piece alone that I lost track.

EBW: Really?

Charles Baker: But I think there is a special kind of skill to it because the voices have already been done, the animation has already been done, and you have to somehow create an English version of what they're saying, and as close as possible, get what they call the lip flaps, which is a funny term, you had to get your lip flaps to match. And sometimes it would cause some really interesting performances, but you were forced to make it as natural as possible. It was great training for on-camera work, really, which also in turn, when you have to do ADR for a movie or a TV show, rerecord your voice over your own performance, it makes it a lot easier to handle that. It's a lot of fun.

@ebaumsworld Before he played Skinny Pete on Breaking Bad, Charles Baker did voice-over work for some iconic anime. #onepiece #evangelion #fullmetalalchemist original sound - eBaum’s World

EBW: Yeah, One Piece is pretty massive.

Charles Baker: Yeah.

EBW:  I think it's sort of how a resurgence. Evangelion as well, and also Fullmetal Alchemist. Are those shows that your kids are into? Have you shown them your anime work?

Charles Baker: Well, I didn't have to show them. My 14-year-old daughter at one point got into my car as I picked her up from school one day and she's like, "My friends just told me they saw your name in a show that they're watching." She gets a little offended by some of that stuff, I think. I don't know really why, but when her friends make a big deal out of me being in a show that they watch, she's just like, "Ugh."

EBW: There's nothing you can really do to stop that.

Charles Baker: No.

EBW: And so besides being an actor, you're also a musician.

Charles Baker: I tried.

EBW: Was music your first passion or was it acting?

Charles Baker: Music was my first passion. I was a violinist at four. I then played trumpet and then drums and then started teaching myself piano and guitar. In college, I was on a vocal scholarship as a singer. I had been in show choirs and did musicals and high school and I really kind of enjoyed doing the musical things so I started taking tap, jazz, and ballet. I wanted to be Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, a triple threat. And at the time, I thought that was kind of a prerequisite for being an actor, was having it all and being able to do it all, and so I learned as much as I could.

@ebaumsworld Charles Baker said he practiced for weeks to perfect Skinny Pete's piano solo. #breakingbad #skinnypete #charlesbaker #actors #bach original sound - eBaum’s World

EBW: So that leads me to my next question. There is this iconic scene of yours in Breaking Bad where Skinny Pete is playing the piano. Can you tell us how that came about?

Charles Baker:  Okay, so early on in the process of working on the show, I stick close to the producers and the writers, just within ears distance, because I'm trying to learn as much as I can from everybody at this point. This is my fifth or sixth job in the business. One of the writers was having a candid conversation and said, "We watch the actors and we try and learn if they have any special skills or any mannerisms that we can fit into the character to enhance it and without seeming forced."

I let that kind of simmer for a little while and I kind of, "Well, I should show them some of my other skills." And we were shooting the narcotics anonymous scenes where Badger and I are trying to sell meth in a NA meeting. And it was on location in a church. And in the back room, while we were on lunch, I found a piano. And so I started plucking out tunes on the piano. And at one point I was jamming on something and I saw a writer's head just kind of peek through the door and then slink off slowly.


Then a couple of months later, I get a call from one of the producers, which was not a normal thing for me. I was a day player for 14 episodes. They barely even looked at me, much less called me up at my house. They said, "Would you be interested in playing keyboards in an episode?" And I was like, "Absolutely. I'll even sing a song. I'll do a one-man band if you want." And they're like, "Tone it down, tone it down. If you could just give us a list of songs that you feel confident playing, we'll let you know from there." So I sent them a list of the few songs that I really have in my repertoire that I felt confident enough. And they immediately came back with, "Oh yes, Solfeggietto, Carl Emanuel Philipp Bach. Do that one."

I spent three hours a day working on that song, to a point where my 10-year-old son, now, he was just a little tiny baby, but if I play it now, he starts humming along. But I was playing it every day to try and make sure I could get that one hard part. Where the fingers overlap. You have to play it like this at one point. And finally, I learned how to play it. And I learned how to play it right with the right fingering.

And so I learned how to play it, got it down, and showed up to the shoot. And they went, "Okay, start," and I started the song. And then they went, "Cut," and I'm like, "I only made it through the first section." "That's all we need." I'm like, "Oh, I wish I would have started in a different place."                                                 

EBW: What an incredible story. It sounds like the openness on the set was palpable. Or the creative expression, because that scene is so telling into who Skinny Pete is as a character. It kind of represents, at least to me as the viewer, the skills or talents that drugs and addiction can squander. And that’s incredible that it wasn’t planned.

Charles Baker: Yeah. The writers, the entire crew of that show, it was just such an amazing collaborative effort and so seemingly spontaneous.

EBW: I heard in the interview, that you tried to take your Skinny Pete beanie and they didn't let you. They said that it might end up in the Smithsonian one day.

Charles Baker: Oh yeah.

EBW: Well, just this week, Albuquerque released those two statues of Walter and Jesse. What is it like having been on a show with such powerhouse actors, but also on a show that kind of rejuvenated television in the way that we can watch it today?

Charles Baker: It was a dream. I don't even know how to, it was such an amazing thing. And the first two seasons, everyone on the crew knew what kind of show we had. We knew it was an amazing show. We didn't know that the audience was going to catch on to that, or in the way TV is made, if they were even going to get an opportunity because it would've been easy for AMC to just kill it after two seasons because it really didn't have the traction that a lot of shows that get canceled do. There was a lot of hope. And then once Netflix hit and it started becoming the most binge-watched, we actually, I think, kind of invented binge-watching. It kind of changed everything. And I lived in Texas at the time. It was popular, but it wasn't so popular as it was in LA or in New York. It was huge on the coast, but in Texas, I could walk around and nobody had any idea who I was the whole time, but then I moved to LA and it was a completely different thing. And that's when I found out really how much of an impact it had on the industry and how big of a deal it was to people in the industry. It changed my life completely, for the better.

EBW: And then coming back for El Camino, what was it like playing Skinny Pete again for the second time? Did you have to approach it any differently?

Charles Baker: I was over the moon, man. For me, what it was, was that Vince Gilligan wrote this movie, right? And he wrote it with Skinny Pete as a character, knowing that I was the guy that was playing Skinny Pete. That's the way he wrote it, the power of the character, that my role had in that film. It was the biggest compliment you could ever get from one of the biggest showrunners in TV history.

EBW: Any chance if we ever get a Skinny Pete and Badger spinoff? Is that something that you've been trying to pitch to anybody? We can get a petition going?

Charles Baker: There are lots of people definitely asking. I trust Vince Gilligan and that crew to know what's right and to know what will work. And if they don't want to force it, I don't want to be part of that. I would happily jump into that role again if they could find a way to make it make sense and make it work, not just for the sake of money, but because they feel it is necessary. I love the character. I love the role.

@ebaumsworld What was it like working with Bryan Cranston? #breakingbad #bryancranston #skinnypete #charlesbaker original sound - eBaum’s World

EBW: What was it like being on set with Bryan Cranston? It seemed like he grew as an actor.

Charles Baker: At first, it was all right, then later his ego just got intolerable. No. He's always been just the most amazing, generous, and grateful. He constantly expressed how grateful he was to have that opportunity to do that. You can't blame him. It was a huge, huge deal for him. He was generous. He taught me that being a good lead actor meant being a good leader and that he set the tone.

He always had that air of gratefulness to be there and never once took his anger out on anybody. Never showed anger towards anybody. Never was disrespectful to anybody, from the major characters down to the very, very smallest background player. They got treated the same. It made everything so much better, having him and Aaron. Aaron was also the same. He seemed to follow in Brian's footsteps in that way. And they were mentors and friends as opposed to just the lead actor who hid out in his trailer all day until it was time for him to work. He loved to talk about the craft and talk about what he knows and how he does what he does and it was like a masterclass in acting.                                    

EBW: And when you're not acting or making music, what does Charlie Baker like to do in his free time? What kind of stuff relaxes you or helps you maybe live a normal life?

Charles Baker: Well, I'm a stay-at-home dad. I walk my dogs. I take my kids to school when they're at school, pick them up from school, and take them to practice drum practice and music lessons. And then in between, I lay out by the pool and wait for my next job to come. I have a pretty easy life. I struggled a lot in my younger days. And I say I struggled, I struggled, and I partied, and I struggled, and I made stupid mistakes, and I did everything wrong I could early on. And now I just try and be as boring as possible. Let me just enjoy a movie and swim in my pool and watch my kids grow up and be there for them as much as I can because when I'm working on a job like this where I'm gone for 20 days, I feel lost. I also enjoy playing some video games every now and then too.

EBW: Yeah, what do you play?

Charles Baker: I have a Switch. My kids and I both have Switches. I do a lot of Breath of the Wild, and decompression games. I recently did the Witcher video game, which was an interesting kind of game, to say the least. And then I started doing Switch Sports. My son insisted we get that when it came out and I've been having fun playing volleyball and tennis and those kinds of things. I don't get enough exercise apparently because that's been doing it for me lately.

@ebaumsworld What was it like working with Keanu Reeves on The Neon Demon? #keanureeves #theneondemon #charlesbaker #actors #ebaumsworld original sound - eBaum’s World

EBW: You were in the 2016 movie The Neon Demon.  What was it like working with Keanu Reeves?

Charles Baker: It was a really cool deal. Yeah, everything great they say about Keanu Reeves is almost an understatement. When he first walked into the room where I was sitting, waiting for the scene to start, he walked in and just made a beeline to me and just walked up. He's like, "Hey, I'm Keanu." And it's like, "Yeah, I know." He was nice. He was kind. He was fun. Very professional.

EBW: Thanks so much for taking the time.

Charles Baker: Thanks for having me, man.