A conversation with Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Sal”; I will also go to good people

Creating a cruel world requires a noble human being. It is difficult to imagine fifty-five-year-old Vince Gilligan with this quiet voice and such a dignified and humble demeanor in the rough and gray New Mexico that he brought himself on the television screen. The fictional world of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Sal", which are among the most acclaimed series of the 20th century, is a world where humans become monsters. In the words of Stephen King, "No Place for Old Men" is combined with the Deucesert mood of the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".

BingMag.com A conversation with Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Sal”; I will also go to good people

Creating a cruel world requires a noble human being. It is difficult to imagine fifty-five-year-old Vince Gilligan with this quiet voice and such a dignified and humble demeanor in the rough and gray New Mexico that he brought himself on the television screen. The fictional world of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Sal", which are among the most acclaimed series of the 20th century, is a world where humans become monsters. In the words of Stephen King, "No Place for Old Men" is combined with the Deucesert mood of the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".

Gilligan was born in Richmond, Texas, as a teenager with The Super 8 camera made science fiction films. He then attended New York University, and after graduating in 1989 with a BA in film production, entered a screenwriting competition with a script called "Home Fries." Mark Johnson, the producer of the movie "Rain Man", was one of the judges of this competition. He was so impressed by Gilligan's script that he described him as "the most imaginative writer I've ever met." The script was later turned into a feature film of the same name, starring Drew Barrymore. Johnson himself later became an executive producer of "Unbridled" and "Better Call Sal".

Gilligan worked on a daily basis with various television series for years. Until in 1994, he managed to sell a script to the producers of the "Unknown Files" series and became a great success. Later, he wrote thirty episodes for this series and finally became its executive producer. After the series ended in 2002, Gilligan was, in his own words, "a little bit in trouble," until he managed to convince AMC executives to make a series about a delusional middle-aged man who, after Faraz and Lots of landings, turning into "Scarface" Tony Montana. The result was a series called "Breaking Bad", which turned Walter White into an important cultural icon. Gilligan then created the series Better Call Sal, which tells another metamorphosis story: how a lawyer from Albuquerque, New Mexico named Jimmy McGill (Bob Edenkirk) becomes Sal Goodman. And Sal Goodman is the one who has always been Walter White's sly, charming and scheming sidekick.

Just a while ago, the series "Better Date Sal" ended forever. This was actually the end of Gilligan's fourteen-year adventure in this fictional world. An official skydiver and helicopter pilot, he believes "jumping out of a plane is easier than talking to a stranger." But during the two phone calls we had together (one before the airing of the final episode of the series "Better Call the Year", and one after the airing of the final episode), he talked about various topics, from the origins of "Better Call the Year" "From his interest in the "Rockford Files" series and the end of his wonderful series, which Anthony Hopkins considers comparable to "a Jacobean, Shakespearean or Greek play". In order to make the conversation more transparent, some parts have been corrected.

Warning: In this interview, there is a risk of exposing parts of the two series "Breaking Bad" and There is "Better Call Sal".

- You once said that "Breaking Bad" has a triumphant ending in some ways. Because as soon as Walter White managed to die according to his own rules and leave a fortune for his family, he has won. Do you have the same opinion about Jimmy McGill?

Personally, I wish I had the opinion that, unlike "Breaking Bad", "Better Call Sal" actually has a happy ending. In my opinion, Jimmy is rediscovering himself and going back to his roots. He finds a small part of his soul again. In the last part, the situation becomes very dark. It's as if he's trying to kill Carol Burnett (who plays Marion), one of the loveliest people in the world, and then rediscovering his own humanity. Aspects of Charles Dickens' "Nightmare of Christmas" are also seen in the series, there is a kind of redemption in it. I don't think that's the case with Walter White either.

The further I get from Breaking Bad, the less sympathy I feel for Walter. Help came to him very soon. And if he was a better person, he would have put aside his pride and treated his cancer with the same money his old friend had given him. But he decides to go ahead by his own rules, and leaves a whole lot of destruction behind him. I focus more on this aspect now than before.

Recently I re-watched the entirety of Unbridled. I no longer have that love for Walter White. And on the contrary, my love for Skyler White has increased.

After a few years, that magic fades. Wait, you say to yourself, why was this person so great? wow man It was sanctimonious, he was also self-righteous. His big nose complex was the size of the state of California. And he always looked at himself as a victim. He always thought that the world had given him what he deserved, how his genius never got what it deserved. When you consider all these aspects, you say to yourself, "Why did I like this guy so much?"

When the show first aired, Skyler was not a popular character at all. I think Anna Gunn (who plays Skyler) always had a problem with that. I always had a problem with this issue. Because Skyler's character didn't deserve that. Anna herself definitely did not deserve such treatment. He played his part beautifully. Looking back now, I realize that the series had some flaws in that the entire story was told from Walt's point of view, even in scenes where Walter was not present. Even a character like Gus, who is Walter's main enemy, doesn't have as many enemies as Skyler. It is a strange case. I still think about it after all these years.

- I know there was discussion in the writers room about different endings for Breaking Bad. For example, Walt dies in the hospital without anyone knowing who he is; Or Walt survives but his whole family is destroyed; What other endings were in mind for "Better Call Sal"?

There was an ending that I personally always found very appropriate: Jimmy the lawyer pays a price for his career choice. In other words, the right option was for him to go to prison.

Walter White died in the rain of bullets and escaped from prison. I personally imagine that Jesse Pinkman made it through this incident safely, although it is quite certain that this will not happen. The tortures he went through were worse than any prison. He was captured and forced to make glass for the group that held him hostage. So we have Walt's ending and Jesse's ending. But there must be a third ending, these two endings cannot be repeated again. I don't think anywhere in the series we thought about Sal Goodman's death. Lalu's character regularly calls Sal a cockroach. And what is the purpose of cockroaches? Survive. We did not even think about his death for a moment. It was not a good idea.

BingMag.com A conversation with Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Sal”; I will also go to good people

-The fans of the series were afraid that a terrible end awaits Kim Wexler. , is Jamie's ex-wife.

We were misleading people. Fans were like, "Oh my god, you're going to kill Kim, aren't you?" And Peter (Peter Gould, co-creator of the series) and I would look at each other and shrug. We used to say: "See for yourself." But we never even thought about killing Kim. Ray Seehorn (who plays Kim) is so cute. We didn't want to end the series without him. I can't say that Kim, the character she played, is as likable. Because he does some terrible things in the final season. But he also comes to his senses.

- That's right. So once again, Kim's lover is a freak.

Life is never perfect. Meanwhile, as we see in the final episode, Kim also makes some subtle but important changes in her life. He joins the Legal Aid Society as a volunteer. Granted, Glenn, her lover, seems lovely, but I don't know how long he will last in the new world that Kim is trying to create. I don't know if Kim will let him get too close.

- It's funny to think about things we won't see again. It looks like the world of the Sims video game. In that game, the characters continue their work without knowing what they are doing.

I have to say this is the nicest thing I have ever heard about my work. The characters really seemed alive to us. On our best days in the writers' room, we just scribbled instead of creating. I felt the same way in my best days when I was producing "Unknown Files". Sometimes I hear the voices of Mulder and Scully (the main characters of "The Unknown Files") in my head. I look like the stenographers who work in the courts. In my opinion, everything is going well when I'm in this state.

What are Kim and Jamie doing now? What will happen next? It's great that fans think about questions like that, because you're writing a story for people to watch, and the story becomes their own. It makes me feel so good that the fans are living these characters in their daily lives.

- You always remember the people who helped you in the production very well. In this kind of business, this kind of group work is very rare.

The author theory that the French gave us, and I thank them for that, was a crap theory. There is a romantic notion that there is only one director or creator behind every successful movie or series, but this is not the case. In my opinion, such a thing is possible on paper, but only in very small independent films. Even in those films, finally, a cinematographer And the sound engineer and actor are busy helping. You don't do everything by yourself. The author's theory is not very logical and defensible.

The factors that helped in making these two series were the size of a whole village. I know Peter Gould agrees with me. Editors, cinematographers, actors, make-up artists, props, the list goes on.

- We see a lot of fantastic visuals in Better Call Sal. But for me, the most mesmerizing scene in the film is where Lalo Salamanca and Howard Hamlin both die in a pit in Gus Fring's underground lab. It is as if this scene is saying that no matter whether you are good or bad, moral or immoral, in the end a fate awaits you.

I think it is the right word. By the way, we could talk for an hour about how difficult the design of that pit was. We had to dig a hole in a recording studio, and Kelly, a structural engineer, helped design it. It was a lot of trouble.

- I am talking about its moral and immorality, and you, as a creator, consider the conditions of its design.

Me and Peter and the team of writers came up with such an idea, it was easy for us. It was the production team that had to create this scene. It really took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to create it, and it cost a lot of money to design what looked like a huge hole in the ground. But the fact is that the filming location is a recording studio with a lot of styrofoam and plaster. Then we realized that we have to put another pit under all these. This caused many meetings. Finally, the studio allowed us to bring in engineers. And really, we dug a hole two meters deep in the concrete floor of the recording studio, it was not easy at all. So I say once again, the author's theory is nonsense.

- Do you consider these things when writing the script? To establish a balance between what you have in mind and how practical it is in reality?

I have to consider. But most of the time I don't do this. At the beginning of my career, I didn't think about these things too much. For this reason, my advice to writers is to imagine themselves as producers and directors when writing. In this case, they will no longer be discouraged by writing things that are impossible to make. I remembered the first episode that I had written for the "Unknown Cases" series (episode "Soft Light" from the second season). I was a freelance writer then. This episode that I had written, maybe forty or fifty million dollars needed to be produced. While at that time our total budget was five or six million dollars. I did not know about these things at all. I was a useless writer who had no experience in the field of production. So I think yes, writers should think about these things too.

BingMag.com A conversation with Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Sal”; I will also go to good people

- Is this Is it one of the mistakes you see in young television writers?

Yes, but there is nothing wrong with it. Sometimes they send me scripts that I say to myself: "This writer has never been on the set of a movie." But this is not a reason to consider them incompetent. If you can tell a good story, it's okay to write a script that's impossible to produce. And really, anything can be made these days thanks to digital effects. But at the end of the day, what matters is that the author has told an entertaining story. The rest can be taught.

- You once said that one of the advantages of writing for television is that characters can change over the course of a series, a process that is more difficult in film. Can you give an example of a Better Call Sal character who changed over time?

When I look at the first two episodes of Better Call Sal, I notice that we didn't know much about Jimmy McGill's character. And we knew even less about his brother Charles McGill and his boss Howard Hamlin. And we decided that Chuck would be better off playing a role similar to Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock Holmes' older brother), who, although emotionally damaged, is a good supporting role. This was our main plan.

And then the story design started. We had the advantage of having time in Kelly's writers' room, and an even more important advantage was that we got to see the actors play the roles. For this reason, we gradually came to the conclusion that isn't it better that a character like Howard, who looks like the evil king of the world because of his tidy and good-looking appearance, is not as bad as we imagine? And what if Chuck isn't as supportive of Jimmy as we think? How does he really feel about his younger brother as a lawyer? In the final assessment, he is neither a bad person nor a good person, but he is definitely not on his brother's side. Once we realized that, the series became much more interesting.

There was a win in Michael McCain's role as Chuck McGill that was incredibly interesting to us. It led us to the conclusion that maybe this character can go further from an extraordinary lawyer who thinks he's allergic to electricity.

- As soon as you follow the character lead, while the reverse process is usually done, your character as a It shows a distinct creator.

In my opinion, if there is one secret to success in our business, this is it. The TV shows we love are filled with characters that seem real to us. We don't necessarily agree with them, but we understand where they are coming from. We understand them on an emotional level.

But you can't achieve that by creating characters who are an awkward patch to their surroundings. It may sound too artistic, but you have to listen to these characters. I mean, you have to honestly think to yourself how these characters would act in different situations. This process has been very helpful for us in the writers room.

Sometimes, this takes you to places in the thread you don't expect. In both shows, many of our best ideas came to us at the last minute, when a few seasons had passed since both shows had aired. Looking back now, I am happy with the process we took. The longer the writing process went on, the more anxious we became that we didn't have a clear path forward. But we found our way. It was a struggle, but from the very beginning we deliberately left out this part of how the events will end. We probably didn't even know about it halfway through the story.

- One aspect of Breaking Bad and You Better Call Sal that I love is the unwritten parts of them. I think this is one of the characteristics of good writing. Nothing is over-explained.

When I first started writing, I, like many others, fell into the role of editor. I was afraid that the audience would not understand this point. I felt I had to explain everything. But eventually you learn to be calm. You realize that you can learn a lot about a character through the unsaid words.

In my opinion, one of the blessings of watching series back to back is that it is very compatible with the serial storytelling method. I also allow writers to include details that only discerning audiences would notice. Being able to watch an episode right after the previous one allows for a kind of storytelling that wasn't available twenty years ago. When I was working on The Unknown Files, we had to do the series episode by episode, because the audience couldn't watch the series later like it is now. Of course, at that time there was a video device for recording, but to record each episode, a lot of planning and time had to be spent and it was a lot of trouble. As a result, it was more difficult to develop a TV character back then, because you couldn't see their evolution week by week like streaming services do now. This was the nature of the medium, and now the medium itself has changed. In my opinion, this is a beautiful evolution.

-Interesting. For example, in "The Rockford Files", the character of Jim Rockford did not change much during a season, or even several seasons. Maybe this lack of change was comforting.

Yes, this was the real pleasure of watching such series. Honestly, I only watch the same series these days. I love old works. I love old episodes of State of Emergency!, The Rockford Case, Columbo, The Half-Light Zone, and Hogan's Heroes. For my brain, these are pleasurable foods. I hope this kind of storytelling never dies.

For my next series, I would like the protagonist to be an old-fashioned hero, an old-fashioned good guy. Jimmy Rockford has many flaws, but he always does the right thing. Fifteen years ago, but I was thinking about the character of Walter White, I looked around and I said to myself, what? What TV series are on the market now? They are mostly good people. But now, when I look at today's TV series, I ask myself, why are there so many negative characters? And not only in the series, the whole news is about bad people. Whether in fiction or in the real world, mean people seem to be everywhere. I think it's time again for a character to enter the TV screen who doesn't look for easy money. It would be great if I could create a more old-fashioned hero, someone who doesn't just always look out for his own interests.

BingMag.com A conversation with Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Sal”; I will also go to good people

- Both "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Sal" are set in New Mexico. Before you started working on these two series, how much did you know about that region? You grew up in the southern part of the country.

It was my good fortune that when the production team at Sony Corporation read the script for the pilot episode of Breaking Bad, they said to me, "How about shooting the show in Albuquerque?" I replied: "Well friends, it is also written in the script that the story is in the Riverside and Inland area The California Empire is passing." "Yes, we know that," they said. But New Mexico has given discounts to film crews. Compared to Southern California, the offer they gave us is much better. The benefit for you is that you have more budget to make your series."

I said to myself, but still, the story should be in California. Because I had it in mind from the beginning. But later I realized the bitter truth that there is a glass drug market in all fifty states of America. I thought to myself, why not take the story to New Mexico? It was one of those decisions where you had to check many of its basic aspects. And it turned out that it was the best decision that could be made from the point of view of creative power. This saved us a lot of money over the years, but the most important benefit of this decision was that it allowed us to shoot in Albuquerque's stunning scenery. It is really a spectacular and beautiful place. It reminds me of my favorite big westerns. John Ford's Westerns, Sergio Leone's Westerns. It's true that Leone's movies were shot in Spain, but the striking thing is how similar the deserts of Spain are to those of New Mexico. The fun was when we said to ourselves, "Hey, we can make this a western, a modern day western." This series would not have reached this position without New Mexico.

- In terms of good and evil, how do you evaluate the characters of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Sal"? This boundary is not as clear as the classic westerns of the 1950s, and even the postmodern westerns of the seventies, eighties, and nineties.

A professor specializing in critical studies can give a better answer to this question. But when I think of a Western, I think of a character who, either as a hero or an anti-hero, makes his way in a lawless land and imposes law on this land. In my opinion, it is because of this quality that Westerns remain enjoyable. The idea of a person who imposes structure on an unstructured space is present in one of the main characters of "Unbridled": Hank Schrader. He is a symbol of honor, you could say he is the sheriff of this story.

But the subculture that Walter White finds himself in, and places himself in, is a crime-ridden and lawless area. is located in the underworld of Albuquerque, it should be considered the wild west of this story. If you had lived in an area that had no structure, no law and order, and no current facilities that we enjoy, you would find it necessary to impose structure on it. In the old John Wayne westerns that I love, the Duke is the good guy who enforces law and order in a lawless land. But the bad guy in the story can also do this. It could even be argued that the bad guy is a more interesting character. However, the idea of introducing a character who imposes a structure as he likes always intrigues me.

Now back to your first question. Howard Hamlin is basically a good guy. He is not a saint, but his life ends with Lalo Salamanca, one of the most evil and troubled characters in the story. You can say: "This scene shows how random the events of the world are." Writers love irony, but I think the irony of this scene is that they are in the same grave. Personally, I do not see a message in this scene. With this scene, we didn't want to say, "Stop trying to find meaning in life. Everything is absurd." I think this life should have a meaning. Please don't think that it doesn't matter if you live a good or bad life. This is definitely not our message. Although there may be this impression regarding the scene of Howard and Lalu, but chaos and lawlessness are not what we are talking about.

- But there must be a message in these two series, right? ? Otherwise, why did you bother to write and film it at all? Don't all stories ultimately have a theme?

You know, one of the smartest things I've ever heard was from Michael Mann, who's an amazing writer, and an amazing director. I was in charge of rewriting the script, which had been really good up to that point. It was during the first days of work that I said to him: "Well, what is the message of this script?" What are we dealing with thematically?" I asked the same stupid questions that they teach in filmmaking schools. But I really wanted to know the answer to this question. I wanted to put myself in his mind and ask him: "What are we trying to talk about here?"

He listened to my words patiently. I have forgotten the exact words he said to me, I wish I could quote his words word for word. But his general message was: "Your job is to write an entertaining story. Your task is to write a script that excites the actors and the director. And hope that moviegoers will see it and say what a wonderful movie it was and what twists and narratives it had, what characters it had. This is your duty as a writer. entire. Theme and sections Let other people think about it, for example university professors. "All you have to do is tell an engaging story." He was right.

That's why such interviews are dangerous. Because I can just go ahead and say what I really meant. But like everyone else, I'm just saying carelessly. Probably someone who watches these two series from afar can tell better than me what they are really about. The only thing I can tell you is that people have drawn a lot of interpretations from these two series, things that we didn't even think about when we made it.

It really depends on the audience. The people who are responsible for the script and direction and acting and set design and logistics, most of them focus on the process. But the fans also have a duty, because if there were no fans, all these works would be in vain. It is the duty of the audience to understand what all these mean.

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