'Breaking Bad': Bryan Cranston and Vince Gilligan Look back before the final season begins
How often have the star and creator disagreed about Walt? And how do they feel about the ending?
It does seem that Walt has become a better actor over time. There’s that (SCENE FROM THE FINAL PREMIERE REDACTED) where he’s very believably lying through his teeth. Has Walt become a better actor over time? Because obviously Bryan Cranston is a great actor.
Vince Gilligan: I think so. Absolutely. I won't tell you which episode or where, but there is a moment coming up that pretty much makes that explicit that Walt is a better actor than he used to be. And I think in that first episode you're referring to Walt's mendacious abilities…
Bryan Cranston: Mendacity.
Vince Gilligan: Mendacity. A stench of mendacity. Walt's mendacious abilities are at the top of their form.
Bryan Cranston: I think it was just a development of the skill set that he needed to learn. He's a smart guy. In science there's no place for hyperbole and projection — it’s all science. It's theoretical, and then you prove it or disprove it and there it is. But in this world where he becomes a drug dealer, he learned in season 2 or season 3, “I need to get up to speed on this or I'm not going to make it out of here alive.” So he learns how to manipulate. And he's dealing with other liars. I’ve got to turn around on them. You might even say I’m like a car salesman. A certain amount of sketchiness, are they lying? Maybe not completely being open on the truth of the history of that; it's like they learn how far they can get away with things as they're swimming. And that's what he's done.
Vince Gilligan: If you decide to play poker, you damn well better developed a poker face.
Are you done editing or do you still have post-production to do?
Vince Gilligan: I cannot even believe I'm saying this, but I wish that I still had editing left to do, because I miss it very much. It's done. It's completely done. Our offices are empty. For all I know a new tenant has been moved into them. It's very sad.
For each of you, how does it feel to be done with some of the best work you've ever done in your lives?
Vince Gilligan: And maybe for all I know the best I'll ever do. It's daunting and it's sad and it's bittersweet and I'm already nostalgic and sentimental for it. We're still spending plenty of time together because of all this publicity, which is fun, which is great seeing everybody. I haven't seen the lovely Betsy Brandt in quite a while 'cause she's off to her next job. Which by the way is the smartest thing you can do is to get on to the next job. And I think all these actors are doing that.
(Brandt, sitting at the next table, calls over to say, “And she’s so pretty, too. And smart!”)
Vince Gilligan: And she's so pretty, too. And smart! I haven't gone on to the next job yet and it'll be a good thing when I do. But the sooner the better, not because I want to leave this behind but because the longer you have to dwell on it, the sadder you get. But I tell you the blessing is that creatively speaking, I have not a single whiff of a doubt that we didn't end at the right time. We ended at the right time creatively. I don't have any second thoughts about that. It's just for personal reasons I don't want it to be over.
And Bryan you've have been doing 17 movies a year or something.
Bryan Cranston: Oh yeah, I moved on. After season 2, I was already thinking about other things. No, this experience will be the opening line of my obituary. And I welcome that when I'm 105.
Vince Gilligan: I would hope for 110.
Bryan Cranston: Yeah. Because I'm 105 going, “Not now. I'm feeling great!” You know, it’ll be, “’Breaking Bad’ actor explodes.” It's been the greatest professional experience of my life. And there's something interesting about it, because as much as I'll miss it, I to feel I'm proud that we brought it to an end. I would much rather hear the comments of, "’Breaking Bad.’ God I miss that show” than “’Breaking Bad,’ is that show still on? Oh my God, really?"
Vince Gilligan: Could not agree more.
Bryan Cranston: It's like, “Walk away.” We're in the Super Bowl, and then let's walk away with our heads up. There was talk about being able to extend it. Someone asked me a year ago after season 4, "How much longer can you go?" And I said, "It feels like two seasons to me," which would have equated to 26 episodes. And because we had to almost start over again after Gus Fring was vanquished then it's like well, now what? We have to begin anew. And it wound up being 16, so I was 10 shy. But there was a time then when Vince was saying, "I don't know how we can fill 16 episodes. I don't know how we can do it. I just don't. I don't want to dilute it just so we can fill (time), that's not good." And then all of a sudden you started working and it was like, "Oh we need more." And there was talk at one time about extending it for one more episode.
Vince Gilligan: That's true, there was. You know what, everyone at AMC and at Sony were very kind to us, because precise truth be told, we were about one act too long in these final 16. The last two episodes each, we're about six minutes overly long compared to regular run through time on a regular episode. So six minutes plus six minutes, 12 minutes that's about an act of television. So we missed it by about one act.
Bryan Cranston: Missed it by that much.
Vince Gilligan: But they let us have those overruns on those final two.
Bryan Cranston: That's huge.
Vince Gilligan: Which is a big thank you to them for that. And so I feel pretty good about time. It's not to this level, but I picture of the moon shot. It's like we wanted to land at the Sea of Tranquility, we missed it by two and a half miles. It's like, out of 250,000 miles, that's pretty good.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org