Vince Gilligan on the Breaking Bad series finale and the spin-off Better Call Saul
In a recent interview with EW, Vince Gilligan shared some of his thoughts on people's reaction to the series finale for Breaking Bad, and talked a little about the planned spin-off series, Better Call Saul. Gilligan also revealed his big regret from the show involving Jesse Pinkman's teeth, and which character from Breaking Bad might appear in the spin-off.
Vince Gilligan on the reaction to the series finale:
First of all, I can’t tell you what a big, deep sigh of relief I breathed when word came in that people liked the episode. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. However, having said that, when I heard anecdotally that a lot of people were of the belief that the whole thing had been a dream, then I was kind of scratching my head because that to me as a fan of storytelling, that to me, is the antithesis of a satisfying ending. The whole thing was a dream? [Laughs] The only time the “It was all a dream” bit worked out well was the first time it was used. The first time that I know of was in the old Ambrose Bierce short story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. It worked beautifully in that short story from  years ago. It does not work well to a modern audience. It certainly doesn’t work well for me that these people I’ve invested all my care and close attention to for years on end, that nothing they’ve accomplished happened to be real: It was all some bulls— dream. [Laughs] I was like, “Are you kidding me?” Who would find that… what’s the word?… fulfilling?"
Gilligan on what he was trying to accomplish with the finale:
The challenge was to “be satisfying.” That was the two-word goal that the writers and I were basically consumed by for the better part of a year. In the early going of trying to break the finale [story], we were under the impression that to satisfy was to surprise the audience. And it finally dawned on us one wonderful day that the key to satisfying an audience doesn’t necessarily reside within surprising them, even though the show itself had thrived on the many twists and turns of plot that it had given the viewers over six years and the many surprises that it had held in store. Nonetheless, at a certain point, it feels like a moment where fate or destiny takes over in Walter White’s life — it feels like Walt is probably not gonna survive this show. And in fact, he shouldn’t, because the promise in the very first episode is that he is going to succumb. Having said that, the little surprises along the way in the last episode, like the fact that Walt does not succumb to the cancer — the thing that was promised all along – but rather he gets hoisted on his own petard. He’s the engine of his own destruction, but in a way that’s hopefully satisfying.
Vince Gilligan's one big regret from Breaking Bad:
Thankfully, nothing too much. I wish Jesse’s teeth had been a little more realistic, a little more messed up. Aaron Paul has perfect teeth, and Jesse Pinkman, on the other hand smoked a lot of meth, and that smoke eats the enamel right off of teeth. And furthermore, this poor kid got beat up two or three times a season [laughs], and his teeth were still absolutely perfect. So if we could’ve done a little something to them… But on the other hand, Aaron is such a good-looking guy that maybe that counts as poetic license that we kept his teeth looking nice.
Gilligan on the challenges of making Better Call Saul, and when it will take place:
Peter Gould is a wonderful writer and producer and director who worked on Breaking Bad with me from the first season, and he created the character of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). He and I have been turning that over in our heads quite a bit. We think, by and large, this show will be a prequel, but the wonderful thing about the fractured chronology we employed on Breaking Bad for many years is the audience will not be thrown by us jumping around in time. So it’s possible that we may indeed do that, and we’ll see the past and perhaps the future. Nothing is written in stone yet, we’re still figuring it out, but the thing we realize is tricky with the character is that Saul Goodman is very comfortable in his own skin. He seems to be a character who is pretty happy with himself, especially when we first meet him. He seems to be a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, and that makes him everything that Walter White is not. And that also makes for tricky drama. When I say drama, even in a comedy, you want drama, you want tension and conflict, and a character that at heart seems at peace with himself is intrinsically undramatic. [Laughs] So we’ve been thinking about how to address that issue.
Vince Gilligan on which character from Breaking Bad he's been thinking about for Better Call Saul:
The character that springs to mind would be Mike (Jonathan Banks). That would be a great deal of fun. I would say the sky’s the limit, at least theoretically speaking. Realistically speaking, we’ve got a whole lot of actors, and the world is now well-aware of their wonderful talents and abilities, and therefore Breaking Bad has probably made it tougher for Peter and I to get some of these folks pinned down for another TV show. They’re off making big movies and doing Broadway plays and whatnot, and that’s exactly the way it should be. That is a high-class problem that we will have to contend with as we go forward with Better Call Saul, if we do indeed want to touch base with some of these characters… Better Call Saul could be The Love Boat of its generation, where instead of Milton Berle showing up in a sailor’s cap, hopefully it could be Aaron Paul, also in a sailor’s cap. [Laughs]
Gilligan on possibly directing a movie someday:
I’m always looking for a movie. Some days I’m not even sure why, because TV has been so good to me that there’s no reason not to stick with TV 100 percent for the rest of my career. But I love movies, and I’ve never directed a movie before. I would love to direct a movie at least one time before I’m done.
Great stuff from Vince Gilligan, and I for one can't wait for Better Call Saul. Will it be as amazing as Breaking Bad? Probably not, but I think it'll still be fantastic and pretty hilarious. Spin-off series can be hit or miss (for every Frasier there's a Joey), however I'm quite confident that Vince Gilligan and company are going to create something awesome with Better Call Saul.
Better Caul Saul should start airing on AMC sometime in 2014.
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