Following the rise and fall of meek science teacher turned meth kingpin Walter White (Bryan Cranston), BREAKING BAD ran for five seasons.
BETTER CALL SAUL, set before BREAKING BAD, focuses on the origin story of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Walt’s crooked lawyer. It debuted in 2015.
Here are 15 of the best Vince Gilligan quotes for producers, writers and directors…
15 Vince Gilligan Quotes for Producers, Writers and Directors
“A lot of times people say, ‘What would you change about the show?’ Maybe I’m not being imaginative enough or as self-lacerating as an artist but I really wouldn’t change much. And thank goodness, because that’s a bad feeling; you wake up in the middle of the night, sit up in bed and say, ‘Oh my god, we missed a big opportunity!'”
“Anything that you can put on paper that can help focus your thinking and gets you closer to the goal of creating something is to the good. If it’s looking through a phone book until you come up with the right combination of first and last names that helps you picture the character, so be it. But, you have to stay flexible.”
“The best advice I can think of all time I had is gird up your loins for failure because you will fail more often than you will succeed. And the best advice given that information is go down swinging at something that is important.”
“If you really want the writing itself to be the be all and end all, you should be writing novels… but when you’re working in TV and movies, it is very much a collaborative effort. Your writing will live or die — no matter how good it is — based on the quality, talent, and enthusiasm of the actors who inhabit the role and on the quality of the director directing them. It works both ways.”
“Someone else, a smarter person than me, said a writers room is very much like a sequestered jury that never ends. It really is – if you put enough smart people in a room and you bar the door so to speak, work will get accomplished.”
[on what he looks for in writers] “I look for good visual storytelling. We take pride in our dialogue, but TV and movies, this is visual storytelling. It’s the difference between a play and a screenplay.”
- “We’ve all had our favourite 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.”
“Peter [Gould, BETTER CALL SAUL co-creator] and I have this theory that if an actor can be funny and make you laugh out loud, and give a wonderful performance in doing that, it’s a lead pipe cinch that they can do drama. The reverse I don’t believe is necessarily true.”
[on serialisation versus episodic storytelling] “There’s no right way to do television. All that matters is that you find a way that works for you.”
“It’s always a conscious choice to surprise people. That is always the mandate. Today, with all the wonderful – and sometimes not so wonderful – entertainment it’s harder than ever to keep things interesting, so you have to surprise people.”
- “I feel like Walter White was in my head 24 hours a day. It was a sad thing when the show ended, it was bittersweet, but it also felt necessary for it to end when it did in terms of structure and in terms of not overstaying our welcome, but it also aided my mental health. It was kind of a good thing.”
“Having a rock solid idea of how it all should end is counterproductive. If you’re too rigid in your thinking you may miss some wonderful opportunities for storytelling.”
“It helps to know how many episodes you’ll have. However, the TV business is not geared that way, you don’t know for sure unless you’re doing a miniseries. I think that’s an underrated form. I wish that the miniseries would make a comeback.”
“What interested me [about fan response to BREAKING BAD] is that I assumed that people would lose sympathy and lose patience with Walt along the way, the more greedy and selfish he became. But lo and behold, it seemed to be the opposite was in fact that case. It seemed to be that people who were fans of the show were sympathetic to Walt no matter what he did.”
[on keeping plot details from actors] “It just seems like a no-brainer to me to not be secretive, in terms of what you tell the actors, or for that matter, what you tell the director of photography, the production designer; certainly, the producers and directors. All these people need to be in the loop.”
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