For five seasons, Breaking Bad viewers have followed former chemistry teacher Walter White as he made the journey from hopeless cancer victim to ruthless drug lord, but all bad things must come to and end, and AMC’s hit drama held its very last panel at San Diego’s Comic-Con Sunday morning. Creator and executive producer Vince Gilligan appeared with the cast, including Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, R. J. Mitte, and Bob Odenkirk, in a panel moderated by Chris Hardwick.
Hardwick noted that the show has recently been nominated for 13 Emmys this season, and that he would be hosting an after show discussion on AMC called Talking Bad.
Bryan Cranston walked in wearing a Walter White/Heisenberg rubber mask, for which he admitted he had been walking the show floor incognito in. Gilligan had no clue when he began the show how wildly it would spiral into popularity. Cranston said that every single person has the gamut of emotions inside them, it just takes the right buttons to be pushed to turn someone from “Mr. Chips to Scarface.” “The entire series is about change,” Cranston said into a microphone onto which he had mounted his rubber mask.
Paul said he felt that Jesse had been through so much with Walter, and now he just wants to stay alive. Paul said although the stories can be tense, the set is very loose thanks to Cranston’s playfulness. Gunn said her character rationalizes her decision to stay with Walter after everything she’s done because she thinks she’s able to change Walter the way Walter thinks he’s able to change his situation. “It’s not a normal family, but what is a normal family?,” said Gunn.
Mitte says he’s grown up on Breaking Bad, having started the show at 14, and soon to be turning 21. Most people had high school, he had Breaking Bad. Norris sees Hank as a man of morality, but often with fear as well. Odenkirk said he often gets asked if he improvises, but all Saul’s lines are scripted. He sees Saul as a funny guy, but one who gets things done. Gilligan said that in casting Cranston, he knew after seeing him in comedic performances, that if he was good at comedy, he could be equally as good at drama.
Cranston said the most impactful scene he’s done was when Jane died. For Paul, it was the magnet heist. Cranston recalled in the scene where he throws an enormous pizza on his garage roof, that he gauged the weight of the pizza, and the trajectory, and he got it on the roof on the first take. Gilligan said that although much of the series is plotted out, there is some latitude to make changes such as writing deeper parts for characters whose role on the shows were initially incidental.
A fan asked if there was a point in each panelists characters’ life that they had trouble accepting. Norris said it was when he was unable to walk. Mitte & Odenkirk love their characters as written. Gunn had trouble understanding how strong her character was, until she learned she’s they type of person who acts after analyzing the situation rather than emotions. For Paul, it was when Jesse shot Gayle, as Gayle was the nicest person on the show. For Cranston again, it was when he was involved with Jane’s death through his inaction. For Gilligan, his greatest writing moment on the show it was when Walt was offered to have his cancer treatments paid for by a wealthy colleague, and he turns it down out of pride in place of continuing to cook crystal meth.
Gilligan ended the panel by stating that he felt confident that the audience would be quite pleased with the ending of the show. He then played the cold open of the first episode of the new season, in which Walt returns to his house after some time had passed as the house has been condemned and is abandoned. Breaking into the house, he finds a light switchplate, unscrews it, and retrieves the vial of ricin he’s hidden inside. Coming out of the house, he runs into his neighbor, who is startled to see him after so long and drops the groceries she’s carrying.
Below is the Countdown Mashup video that was shown at the panel, which contains scenes from every season of the series.
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