The Ultimate Guide To Breaking Bad
How It Was Started
Breaking Bad is the brainchild of professional writer, producer and director Vincent “Vince” Gilligan, Jr., whom is best known (before BB) for is work on the hit sci-fi TV show The X-Files. Gilligan wanted to create a different type of show, however – one in which the fundamental drive is change. I think it's safe to say he accomplished this by transforming the otherwise loving father and high-school chemistry teacher, Walter White, into the meth kingpin and murderer, Heisenberg.
So, how did Gilligan come up with the idea of a meth-making chemistry teacher? Gilligan and writer Thomas Schnauz were the discussing their current unemployment (yes, they were once unemployed) when they joked about placing a meth lab in the back of an RV. I guess you could say this triggered a light bulb in duo's heads, giving them the groundwork on which to create Breaking Bad.
Casting Bryan Cranston
It's hard to imagine Breaking Bad without Bryan Cranston taking the role of Walter White. Surprisingly, though, Cranston wasn't the first choice. Gilligan and his team approached John Cusack and Matthew Broderick with the role before Cranston, both of whom turned it down. Of course, AMC were reluctant to cast Cranston for Breaking Bad, having only seen him play Hal in the family-comedy TV show Malcolm In The Middle.
Gilligan and Cranston previously worked together in an episode for the sci-fi TV show The X-Files. In the episode, Cranston played a deranged anti-Semite with a terminal illness who took FBI agent Fox Moulder (played by David Duchovny) hostage. When Gilligan presented this episode to AMC officials, all doubts of Cranston's inability to play Walter White were erased.
I think it's safe to say Gilligan and AMC made the right choice by casting Cranston for Walter White, because the once lovable face from Malcolm In the Middle transformed into a truly BA meth-making kingpin. Cranston even gained 10 pounds and died his hair before the filming the pilot episode to create the persona of Walter White.
Breaking Bad's Parallel To Weeds
There's an undeniable parallel between Breaking Bad and Showtime's comedy-drama series Weeds. In Weeds, suburban mother of two Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) begins selling marijuana after her husband suddenly dies from a heart attack. It's not exactly meth, nor does it feature the same uncanny transitional good-to-bad vibe as Breaking Bad, but the two shoes are similar nonetheless.
Vince Gilligan didn't actually know about Weeds when he came up with the idea for Breaking Bad. It wasn't until he was pitching the show to studios, including AMC, when he was informed of Showtime's hit show. Gilligan later stated that he wouldn't have proceeded with the creation of Breaking Bad had he known about Weeds. It wasn't until he was pitching the show to studios, including AMC, when he was informed of Showtime's hit show. So, do you think Weeds and Breaking Bad are similar?
Vince Gilligan Reveals Different Ending Possibilities
Yes, we all know the grim but justified ending to Breaking Bad, but creator Vince Gilligan revealed some of other possible endings which we contemplated. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gilligan said there was an ending in which Walt survived, another in which Jesse kills Walt, and another in which Walt escapes.
“As the writers and I worked through all these different possibilities, it felt right, but I don’t think it was a necessity [Walt's death] for us. There was a version we kicked around where Walt is the only one who survives, and he’s standing among the wreckage and his whole family is destroyed. That would be a very powerful ending but very much a kick-in-the-teeth kind of ending for the viewers. We talked about a version where Jesse kills Walt. We talked about a version where Walt more or less gets away with it,” said Gilligan during the interview.
The Untimely Death of Jesse Pinkman
Gilligan's original plan was to kill off Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul) during the season one finale. The idea was to have botched drug deal which ultimately led to Pinkman's death, leaving Walt with immense guilt. By the second episode, however, Gilligan realized the potential of Aaron Paul, so he decided to keep him. Of course, Pinkman was one of the few leading characters to survive the series. “It became pretty clear early on that would be a huge, colossal mistake, to kill off Jesse,” said Gilligan.
Gustavo “Gus” Fring is arguably one of the best, or should I say worst, TV villains of all time. Played by actor Giancarlo Esposito, he owns several legit businesses, including a chain of fast foot restaurants called Los Pollos Hermanos (Spanish for The Chicken Brothers), as well as a commercial laundromat. But Fring's “real” money-making venture involves large-scale drug operations, including the production of methamphetamine.
We didn't actually see Gus Fring until the second season, and we didn't know who exactly he was. After Walt and Jessie produce a sizable amount of meth, they start looking for a buyer. And who's the person you go to when you need a big-time drug connection? Your lawyer, of course! Saul Goodman arranges a meeting with Walt, Jessie and Gus at Los Pollos Hermanos (Walt doesn't know Gus is the manager yet). Walt arrives on time as always, waiting patiently for Jessie and Gus. Jessie arrives late, but Gus never arrives. The manager checks on Walt to make sure he's okay, asking if he'd like a refill. When Walt prepares to leave, he realizes the manager is Gus, at which point he confronts him. Gus responds by telling Walt that he's not interesting in conducting business with junkies – referring to Jessie being late and high.
Esposito received a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, and he also received a Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. The pop culture magazine Paste Ranked Gus Fring as the third best TV character of 2011.
Better Call Saul!
Breaking Bad might be over, but there's still plenty of drug and crime drama left in the Albuquerque scene! Gilligan first hinted at a possible (although not confirmed at the time) spin-off series centering around our favorite Breaking Bad sleaze-ball lawyer, Saul Goodman in 2012. The audience responded well to Saul, whom was played by Bob Odenkirk. Fast forward to April 2013, Better Call Saul was given the green light for production, with Gilligan and Gould taking control of the project.
We still don't much about the plot of Better Call Saul, but we do know that it will be an hour-long drama/comedy format. Producers originally wanted a 30-minute comedy show, but this was changed, for whatever reason, to an hour-long drama/comedy. A press release for the show states that it will focus on a small-time lawyer six years before the events of Breaking Bad. With that said, the show will “explore” cents during and after Breaking Bad. It's unlikely that we'll see Walt or Jessie back in action, but Bryan Cranston is expected to direct some of the upcoming Better Call Saul episodes.
Video: Sneak Peek: Better Call Saul: No Parking
Check out the video above for a sneak peek at AMC's upcoming BB spin-off, Better Call Saul.
Better Call Saul will premiere on AMC on February 8 at 10/9c, followed by a second airing on Monday, February 9 at 10/9c. Set your DVRs!
Breaking Bad Cast:
- Bryan Cranston as Walter White
- Anna Gunn as Skyler White
- Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
- Dean Norris as Hank Schrader
- Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader
- RJ Mitte as Walter White Jr.
- Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman
- Giancario Esposio as Gustavo “Gus” Fring
- Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut
- Laura Fraser as Lydia Rodarte-Quayle
- Jesse Plemons as Todd Alquist
- Steven Michael Quezada as Steven "Gomie" Gomez
- Matt L. Jones as Brandon "Badger" Mayhew
- Charles Baker as Skinny Pete
- Rodney Rush as Christian "Combo" Ortega
- Jessica Hecht as Gretchen Schwartz
- Adam Godley as Elliot Schwartz
- Raymond Cruz as Tuco Salamanca
- Mark Margolis as Hector Salamanca
- Christopher Cousins as Ted Beneke
- Krysten Ritter as Jane Margolis
- John de Lancie as Donald Margolis
- David Costabile as Gale Boetticher
- Daniel Moncada and Luis Moncada as Leonel & Marco Salamanca
- Emily Rios as Andrea Cantillo
- Jeremiah Bitsui as Victor
- Ray Campbell as Tyrus Kitt
- Lavell Crawford as Huell Babineaux
- Bill Burr as Patrick Kuby
- Michael Bowen as Jack Welker