Entertainment

09.24.13

‘Homeless’ Man Does Amazing ‘Breaking Bad’ Impressions—But Is It a Viral Stunt?

A video featuring a homeless man doing ‘Breaking Bad’ impressions is going viral—but is it fake? Brian Ries investigates.

A video of a homeless man doing stellar Breaking Bad impressions for a sandwich is quickly racking up the views on YouTube, but Internet users are already raising doubts over its authenticity. 

Video screenshot

The video, which was posted by a user named Corey Webb sometime on Monday, begins with two guys driving up to a shirtless, bearded man who is standing near the entrance to a store parking lot. They then offer him a sandwich in exchange for "some of those impressions from yesterday."

Those impressions, it turns out, are pretty good.

After a short Arnold Schwarzenegger impression the man goes into convincing impressions of four stars of the AMC breakout hit—Walt Jr., Walt, Mike Ehrmantraut, and Jesse—as the men behind the camera crack up with laughter.

They give him a sandwich, begin driving away, and the man slips back into his Walt Jr. voice to exclaim: "Have an A-1 day!"

If the story ended here, it would be a heartwarming one: a talented homeless man finally gets the spotlight he deserves.

But that's not all there is to it.

Users of the two sites that propelled its meteoric rise question the authenticity of the video, and have doubts as to whether or not the man is really homeless, as he says he is, or if he's just a part of another fake viral ploy to get attention. (The Internet has already had a pretty tough week.)

First, the YouTube concerns: "Homeless guys don't watch breaking bad," one user says, as others note the "A-1 day!" quote is from the show's most recent season—indicating he's an avid watcher of cable. "His hair is too clean to be homeless," says another. Both of these could easily be explained—they have TV in homeless shelters, and maybe he values a clean head of hair—but there's more.

"Went to college with this guy," a user of Reddit says, providing a link to a man's IMDB page who looks strikingly like the "homeless man" in the video. That man, Miles Allen, has a beard and recently starred as Hot Guy #1 in Whoa! (a TV Movie).

He's a voiceover actor, another user suggests, who includes a link to a Voices.com account for the same Miles Allen. "A working voice actor in Los Angeles, Miles has an authentic, soothing, young voice that can range from teens-30's!," the listing for the actor reads, before it continues: "He is also a master of a variety of impressions, including your favorite cartoons, celebrities, and political figures. He's got voices for miles and miles …" 

On his Facebook page, he features a series of recent head shots that show his beard, matching the facial hair spotted on the "homeless man" in the YouTube video ("New head shots sporting the bearded look!"), alongside videos promoting his recent comedy and acting work. And on his personal profile, more recent shots, which match Miles the man to the "homeless man" seen in the video.

And just four days ago, there was this: an Instagram photo showing a very healthy beard—near identical to the beard on the man in the YouTube video. They've even got the same hair style. 

So ... is it him?

"Yes! You got me," the actor said when reached by phone on Tuesday evening.

"Me and a couple friends were just sitting in my living room on Sunday and I was doing my ‘Breaking Bad’ impressions, and one of my friends was like, 'What if we made this video where we pull up and you're a homeless man, doing a Walt Jr. impression? That'd be funny.'"

He was expecting just a few thousand hits, thinking it would be cool if Vince Gilligan saw the impressions, because maybe that might help him wind up in the upcoming ‘Breaking Bad’ spinoff, "Better Call Saul." It wouldn't hurt to put it out there, he figured.

The video got only a few hundred hits in a couple of hours. But by noon today it was up to 80,000. His reaction? "What?! That's so crazy!," the actor says, admitting he's a "huge" fan of the show.

"It would be a dream come true if I could ever be on the spinoff or something like that," he says. "The show is one of the best shows ever on television, I believe. The entire cast is brilliant." And his video? "Imitation is the highest form of flattery!"

Perhaps sensing there could be potential critics over his characterization of a homeless man, Miles was quick to point out, "We're not insulting anyone here. It's just a sketch. What's the hurt in making it?"