What are some interesting facts about the Breaking Bad TV series?
. LOTS OF NETWORKS PASSED ON IT, INCLUDING HBO.
In 2016, it was announced that Vince Gilligan ison a limited series about Jim Jones for HBO. But the “It’s not TV” network wasn’t always so hot on Gilligan. In a 2011 interview, Gilligan that he pitched Breaking Bad to HBO, and that it was “the worst meeting I’ve ever had.”
“The trouble with Hollywood—movies and TV—is people will leave you dangling on the end of a meat hook for days or weeks or months on end,” Gilligan said. “That happened at HBO. Like the worst meeting I ever had … The woman we [were] pitching to could not have been less interested—not even in my story, but about whether I actually lived or died.”
HBO wasn’t the only network that ultimately said no to Walter White: Showtime, TNT, and FX all passed on Breaking Bad, too, for various reasons.
2. THE NETWORK REALLY WANTED MATTHEW BRODERICK TO STAR.
It’s impossible to imagine Breaking Bad with anyone other than Bryan Cranston in the lead role, but he wasn’t as well known when the series kicked off, and AMC wanted a star. They were particularly interested in casting either Matthew Broderick or John Cusack in the lead.
“We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in Malcolm in the Middle,” a former AMC executiveThe Hollywood Reporter about their initial reluctance to cast Cranston. “We were like, ‘Really? Isn’t there anybody else?’” But Gilligan had worked with Cranston before, on an episode of , and knew he had the chops to navigate the quirks of the part. The network brass watched the episode, and agreed.
“We needed somebody who could be dramatic and scary yet have an underlying humanity so when he dies, you felt sorry for him,” Gilligan said. “Bryan nailed it.”
3. JESSE PINKMAN WASN’T SUPPOSED TO LIVE PAST SEASON ONE.
While Breaking Bad ultimately ended up being largely about the tumultuous partnership between Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, Jesse wasn’t originally intended to be a major character. While it’s often stated that he was supposed to be killed off in episode nine, and that it was the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike that saved him, Gilligan set the record straight in 2013, saying it became clear much earlier than that that Jesse’s character—and his relationship to Walter—was integral to moving the show forward.
“The writers’ strike, in a sense, didn’t save him, because I knew by episode two—we all did, all of us, our wonderful directors and our wonderful producers,” Gilligan. “Everybody knew just how good [Aaron Paul is], and a pleasure to work with, and it became pretty clear early on that that would be a huge, colossal mistake to kill off Jesse.”
When asked during aabout how he would have felt if Jesse hadbeen killed off in season one, Paul that, “My career would be over. And I would be a sobbing mess watching week to week on Breaking Bad.”
4. THE WRITERS STRIKE DID CHANGE THE STORY ARC FOR SEASON ONE, WHICH TURNED OUT TO BE A GOOD THING.
The Writers Strike did end up shortening the show’s first season, which forced Gilligan to cut two episodes that would have seen Walter’s transformation into Heisenberg happen much more quickly—and violently. Gilligan was glad it worked out the way it did.
“We had plotted out all our episodes before the show ever went on the air, and we didn’t know how well the show would be received,” GilliganCreative Screenwriting. “Not knowing how the public would take to it, you tend to want to be a little more sensational. You want to really keep the show exciting and interesting and keep ’em watching. All of that to say that those last two episodes, because of that, would have been really big episodes, and would have taken the characters into a hugely different realm than that they were already in, and it would have been a hard thing to come back from, coming into season two.”
“We’re not just doing those two episodes coming into season two,” he added. “We threw those out completely and we’re starting somewhere else. We’re building more slowly than we otherwise would have built. I think that’s really good, because I know we’ve all had our favorite shows that were really interesting up to a certain point, but maybe they just go too far, and then there’s no going back from it. To me, the trick is to do as little as possible with the characters, and yet keep them as interesting as possible. It’s a real balancing act.”
THE DEA HELPED OUT, AND EVEN TAUGHT BRYAN CRANSTON AND AARON PAUL HOW TO COOK METH.
Because of the subject matter, the show’s creators thought it was only right to inform the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) what they were making—and welcome their help. “We informed them—with all due respect and consideration—that we’re doing this show, and ‘Would you like to be a part of it in a consultancy in order to make sure that we get it right?’” CranstonHigh Times. “They had the choice to say, ‘We don’t want anything to do with it.’ But they saw that it might be in their best interest to make sure that we do it correctly. So DEA chemists came onboard as consultants and taught Aaron Paul and me how to make crystal meth.”
6. THE SCIENCE IS SOUND, BUT NOT PERFECT. AND THAT WAS INTENTIONAL.
Dr. Donna Nelson, a chemistry professor at the University of Oklahoma, began serving as a science advisor on the show midway through the first season, and was tasked with making sure the show got its science right—or, at least as “right” as is safe.
“I don’t think there’s any popular show that gets it 100 percent right, but that’s not the goal,” NelsonMental Floss in 2013. “The goal is not to be a science education show; the goal is to be a popular show. And so there’s always going to be some creative license taken, because they want to make the show interesting.”
Of course—particularly with a show about drug-making—you don’t want to give viewers a primer on how to start their own meth empires. “In the case of Walter White, his trademark is the blue meth,” Nelson said. “In reality, it wouldn’t be blue; it would be colorless. But this isn’t a science education show. It’s a fantasy. And Vince Gilligan did a fantastic job of getting most of the science right. And I am just thrilled with that. I think Vince Gilligan is a genius, and you can quote me on that!”
7. THAT ICONIC BLUE METH IS ROCK CANDY.
Whenever you see Walter and Jesse’s signature blue meth, what you’re actually seeing is blue rock candy. More specifically: blue rock candy from The Candy Lady, a boutique candy store in Albuquerque. (They have a wholeof Breaking Bad-inspired treats, which they sell under The Bad Candy Lady line.)
8. GUS FRING’S ROLE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MUCH SMALLER.
Initially, Giancarlo Esposito wasn’t interested in taking on the role of Gus Fring, which was a much smaller part in the beginning. “I had not seen Breaking Bad, but my manager at the time told me it was his favorite show,” EspositoTIME. “My wife said I should I try it, but it was a guest spot and I’ve done a lot of guest spots. I wanted to develop a character. But I did one episode and then I agreed to do two more with the caveat that I wanted to be part of a filmmaking family.”
When Gilligan offered him another seven episodes for season three, Esposito countered that he wanted a bigger role. “There was some negotiating and I ended up doing 12,” Esposito said. “I wanted to create a character who became intrinsic to the show. And at some point, I realized that I had slid into the Breaking Badfamily. Vince told me that I changed the game and raised the bar for the show. And I’m proud of that, but I could only do that because of the depth of the writing and due to the chemistry between Bryan Cranston and myself. And their writing inspired me to think, to create someone who was polite, threatening andpoignant.”
9. GIANCARLO ESPOSITO CHANNELED HIS INNER EDWARD JAMES OLMOS.
In the mid-1980s, Giancarlo Esposito made a few guest appearances on. The experience clearly had an effect on him, as he used Edward James Olmos’s character from that series, Lieutenant Martin Castillo, as a model for Gus Fring.
“Eddie did very little and he was very convincing,” Espositothe Toronto Sun. “I also thought he was a bit flat, but he did very, very little in playing [Castillo] and I thought it was really effective. Juxtaposed to Philip Michael [Thomas] and Don [Johnson], who were at times a bit full of themselves but were doing a little bit of acting, Eddie was just doing his job. And I wanted Gus to be in that mode.”
10. GILLIGAN GOT SOME HELP FROM THE WALKING DEAD CREW FOR FRING’S FINAL EPISODE.
Fring’s final sendoff is one of the most memorable visual images from the entire series—and they were able to enlist the help of some true gore experts. “Indeed we did have great help from the prosthetic effects folks at The Walking Dead,” GilliganThe New York Times. “And I want to give a shout-out to Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger, and KNB EFX, those two gentlemen and their company, because their shop did that effect. And then that was augmented by the visual effects work of a guy named Bill Powloski and his crew, who digitally married a three-dimensional sculpture that KNB EFX created with the reality of the film scene. So you can actually see into and through Gus’s head in that final reveal. It’s a combination of great makeup and great visual effects. And it took months to do.”
1. YES, AARON PAUL DOES SAY “BITCH” A LOT—BUT PROBABLY NOT AS MUCH AS YOU THINK.
While any Jesse Pinkman impression ends with a “bitch,” by one calculation, Paul uses the word a total ofthroughout the series. Which, considering there are 62 episodes, seems a little on the low side.
12. PAUL RELEASED A “YO, BITCH” APP.
Even if that above number seems underwhelming, Pinkman’s favorite add-on became so synonymous with Paul that, in 2014, the actor released an app called.
13. WALTER’S BOSS AT THE CAR WASH IS A CHEMIST IN REAL LIFE.
Marius Stan, who played Bogdan, Walter’s boss at the car wash, wasn’t a familiar face to many of the show’s viewers. That’s because the series was his (and his eyebrows’) acting debut. In real life, rather coincidentally, he has a PhD in chemistry and, according to a, is a “Senior Computational Energy Scientist at Argonne National Lab—which is one of the national laboratories under the U.S. Dept. of Energy—and a Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago, the Computation Institute.”
14. WALTER WHITE’S ALTER EGO IS A NOD TO A REAL PERSON.
Walter White’s drug kingpin alter ego, Heisenberg, is a nod to, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who developed the principle of uncertainty.