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OTRC: 'Breaking Bad' renewed for its fifth and final season

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul appear in a promotional photo for 'Breaking Bad.' (AMC)

AMC's drug-themed drama series "Breaking Bad," which stars Bryan Cranston, has been renewed for a fifth and final season, the cable channel has announced.

The show, which has become a cult favorite, follows the life of chemistry teacher Walter White, who leads a secret life as a crystal meth maker and dealer, in part to pay for his cancer treatments and also so he can provide for his family. The series will conclude with 16 episodes which will commence in early 2012, according to an AMC statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com.

"Breaking Bad"'s fourth season premiered on July 18th to the highest ratings ever for the series, which was created by writer/producer/director Vince Gilligan.

"From the day we heard Vince Gilligan's completely original vision for 'Breaking Bad,' it has been a complete joy to be involved with this show," AMC president Charlie Collier said in a statement. "Watching this story evolve into the complex, compelling, and intense roller coaster ride that it has become has been an incredible creative experience for everyone at AMC... While it is sad to even contemplate the end of this series, we are so happy to have had the chance to go on this ride, and truly look forward to presenting the rest of this amazing story."

"It's a funny irony -- I'd hate to know the date of my own last day on earth, but I'm delighted to know what Walter White's will be (episodically speaking)," Gilligan said. "This is a great gift to me and to my wonderful writers. It's knowledge which will allow us to properly build our story to a satisfying conclusion. Now, if we don't manage to pull that off, we've got no one to blame but ourselves."

Cranston, 55, has won three Emmy Awards for his leading role, starting in 2008, when the show debuted. "Breaking Bad" has won a total of six Emmys, including one for supporting actor Aaron Paul.

Meanwhile, Cranston is filming the upcoming "Rock of Ages" film. The actor plays the mayor of Los Angeles for the rock musical, set in the city during the 1980s. Cranston has also been cast in a remake of the sci-fi movie "Total Recall," which also stars Colin Farrell and Ethan Hawke.

Cranston played Hal in the sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" between 2000 and 2006, which earned him three Emmy nominations. He also had parts in shows such as the sitcoms "Seinfeld" and "The King of Queens" and the children's action series "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers."

Check out a sneak peek trailer for season 4 of "Breaking Bad" below.

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