Vince Gilligan, the creator of ‘Breaking Bad,’ has completely turned on Walter White: ‘He Was Really Full of Himself.’
Although Walter White was never intended to wear a white hat, the man who would become Heisenberg was someone “Breaking Bad” fans rooted for — to a point.
Time and distance, however, can reshape perspectives, even for “Breaking Bad” creator and executive producer Vince Gilligan, who appears to have had a complete change of heart about his complex antihero. Gilligan bites hard on the hand of the protagonist who fed him for five Emmy-winning seasons in a Q&A with The New Yorker. And his opinion of Walter White deteriorates over time.
“The further I get away from ‘Breaking Bad,’ the less sympathy I have for Walter,” Gilligan said, moments after reflecting on a much brighter recent ending for his spinoff series “Better Call Saul.”
“[Walt] got a lifeline early on,” Gilligan explained. “And, if he had been a better human being, he would have swallowed his pride and taken the money his former friends offered him to treat his cancer.”
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In a redemptive final episode of “Saul,” Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill “finds a little bit of his soul” (and also survives), while Bryan Cranston’s Walter White went down in a hail of gunfire by his own design, a moment that “Breaking Bad” fans saw as heroic at best, self-actualizing at worst.
“He leaves on his own terms, but he leaves a trail of destruction in his wake,” Gilligan explained. “I concentrate on that more than I used to.”
Whatever had us rooting for White at the height of his Heisenberg powers was hiding a trove of character flaws that haven’t aged well, according to Gilligan.
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“The spell wears off after a certain number of years,” he explained. “Wait a minute, what made this guy so great?” He was extremely sanctimonious and full of himself. He had a California-sized ego. And he saw himself as a victim all the time. He was always complaining about how the world had failed him, how his brilliance had never been recognised. When you take everything into account, you wonder, ‘Why was I rooting for this guy?'”
Despite the fact that Walter White is a long-dead fictional character from a TV show that ended in 2013, Gilligan may remember his creation’s own words: “You cross me, and there will be consequences.”