10 Facts You May Not Know About ‘Breaking Bad’
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With its intricate plots and frequent use of symbolism, ‘Breaking Bad‘ is a show that rewards close viewing. But there are some behind-the-scenes facts that even hardcore fans might not know.
For instance, do you know what Blue Sky meth is really made from? Or what Jesse’s fate on the show was supposed to be? And can you name the acclaimed ’80s drama that first introduced some viewers to Jonathan Banks, aka Mike the cleaner? Get ready for Sunday’s premiere of the final eight episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’ with a few little-known facts about one of the greatest TV shows of all time.
Jesse was supposed to die
Legend has it that creator Vince Gilligan planned to kill off Jesse (Aaron Paul) during the first season, but the break in production thanks to the 2007 Writers Guild strike made him reevaluate Jesse’s fate. The truth is that Gilligan realized after the second episode that Aaron Paul was a keeper, saying that it would’ve been a “huge, colossal mistake to kill off Jesse.”
Walt was going to murder Jane
The ‘Breaking Bad’ writers got into a debate over just how far Walt should go in the season two finale. Vince Gilligan thought that Walt should actually kill the comatose Jane, by either shooting her up with drugs or moving her into a position where she would choke to death. But the other writers argued that it would make the audience lose their connection to Walt too early in the show’s run. Ultimately Gilligan agreed that it was best for Walt not to actually kill Jane. Though, of course, what he does isn’t particularly noble.
Vince Gilligan wrote a Drew Barrymore movie
You may know that ‘Breaking Bad’s’ creator was a key writer on ‘The X-Files.’ But prior to that, Vince Gilligan penned a couple of quirky ’90s rom coms.
Gilligan’s first film, ‘Wilder Napalm,’ is a bizarro Coen Bros-eque comedy about two brothers (Dennis Quaid and Arliss Howard) with pyrokinetic powers (yes, like Drew Barrymore in ‘Firestarter’) who compete for the same woman (Debra Winger). No, seriously, this is a movie that came out in theaters. Watch the trailer below if you don’t believe us.
Gilligan penned the screenplay for ‘Home Fries’ during his student days at NYU. In 1998, it became a quirky Drew Barrymore/Luke Wilson comedy that you’ve probably caught parts of on cable. Gilligan was also one of the writers for the Will Smith superhero flick ‘Hancock,’ which in its first draft was much darker and went by the title ‘Tonight, He Comes.’
The ‘Blue Sky’ meth is actually candy
If you think the blue meth that Jesse and Walt cook up looks tasty, that’s because it’s technically edible. The crew uses crystallized sugar (or rock candy, as it’s known to children) and blue food coloring to create the sweet, sweet meth that is all the rage in The ‘Bu. (That’s what we call Albuquerque.) However…
Meth could never actually be blue
Sorry all you wannabe Walter Whites out there — it’s actually impossible to turn meth into the color of Papa Smurf. According to Dr. Donna Nelson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma who also serves as the show’s science consultant, “when you crystallize anything that’s colorless, which methylamine crystals are, they usually come out with a yellow tinge because of impurities.” She adds that Gilligan wanted Walt to have a signature meth, thus the blue color. Plus, it just looks cool. So relax already, science nerds.
The actress who plays Wendy the prostitute was propositioned in real life
Turns out actress Julia Minesci, who played meth-addicted prostitute Wendy in seasons 2 and 3, is pretty convincing as a lady of the evening. As Julia revealed to AMCTV.com, a man in a van actually drove up and propositioned her during filming. Since the production was using several cars driven by fake “johns,” Julia thought the guy in the van was also an actor. The crew told her the curious driver wasn’t with the show and to send him away. Julia laughed it off saying, “I thought that was quite funny. I could have made an extra twenty dollars.”
Jonathan Banks once hunted drug dealers on TV
Prior to playing everyone’s favorite cleaner Mike, Jonathan Banks was a character actor with a resume filled with diverse roles. One of his notable early roles was on the acclaimed CBS crime series ‘Wiseguy,’ where he played the superior officer to Ken Wahl’s undercover organized crime bureau agent. Steven Bauer, who played cartel leader Don Eladio on ‘Breaking Bad,’ also starred on ‘Wiseguy’ as an agent who replaces Ken Wahl’s character in season 4.
Many networks passed on the show
Pitching a show about a drug dealing science teacher wasn’t exactly a cake walk. Showtime, TNT, FX and HBO all passed on the chance to have one of TV’s best dramas. (FX opted for the forgotten Courteney Cox tabloid drama ‘Dirt.’) AMC, flush with success from ‘Mad Men,’ took a gamble that paid off.
“Tio” Salamanca was supposed to be the “big bad”
Hector “Tio” Salamanca and his trusty bell of doom were meant to play a bigger part on the series. Vince Gilligan revealed on the ‘Breaking Bad’ podcast that Tio was supposed to be the show’s major villain from season 3 on. However, once the writers saw how Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring clicked with Walt and company, the decision was made to turn him into the show’s main villain. (Tio’s nephew Tuco was also supposed to play a bigger role in season one, but the actor had a prior commitment to the series ‘The Closer.’)
The inspiration for Ari on ‘Entourage’ also inspired Saul Goodman
Bob Odenkirk, who plays Saul Goodman, the shady lawyer who seemingly gets every lowlife case in the greater Albuquerque area, revealed on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ that his performance is partly inspired by Ari Emanuel, the high-powered Hollywood agent who also inspired the name and persona of Jeremy Piven’s ‘Entourage’ screamer Ari Gold. (Odenkirk also based his agent character from ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ on Emanuel. It’s safe to say no other person has inspired so many entertaining sleazoids.) Odenkirk’s other inspiration for Saul? Famed studio exec and ‘Godfather’ producer Robert “the kid stays in the picture” Evans. (Check out Odenkirk spoofing Evans as “God” on an episode of his excellent HBO sketch comedy series ‘Mr. Show.’)