I first met Vince Gilligan at last year’s Saturn Awards. breaking Bad won the Saturn for Best Syndicated/Cable TV Series again this year, from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Gilligan could not have been more gracious, hanging out backstage with his statue talking about his show.
Season four starts July 17, and Gilligan is directing the last two episodes of the season. He gave us some scoop about the beginning and end of the season as such, and some general thoughts on the cast.
Q: Do you feel like a returning champion at the Saturn Awards?
Vince Gilligan: I feel so fortunate to be here. I love the Saturn Awards. They are so much fun. They are for my money the most fun awards show in the world with the Golden Globes in distant second. The Golden Globes were pretty fun too but the Saturn Awards are the most fun.
Q: There’s been drama on AMC with the Mad Men deal. Is your deal smooth sailing for more seasons of “Breaking Bad?”
VG: Yeah, pretty much. AMC’s a great company and there are a lot of good people there. I’ve got a new deal coming up for season five, which hopefully we’ll get. I don’t foresee it being too tough just so long as they want to make a season five. All that matters to me is we get to finish our story that we started so long ago, what feels like so long ago. It wasn’t really that long ago but I’m hoping we get to finish Walter White’s story, the story of his family in a proper way. That’s all that matters to me really.
Q: What can we expect from season four?
VG: You can expect a lot of really intricate plotting and a lot of darkness but a lot of darkness leavened with a lot of unexpected humor. You can expect a lot of gamesmanship between Walter White and his opposite number, Gustavo Fring who is perhaps even a more brilliant, cunning person than Walt himself is. It’s quite a game of chess they will be playing in season four.
Q: How much time passes between seasons three and four?
VG: Between season three and season four, literally minutes. Mere minutes pass.
Q: Was that the plan from when you wrote the season three finale or a decision you make every season?
VG: We kind of make it every season but we had a pretty good idea of where we would pick up at the end of last season. We always try to paint ourselves into what looks like a corner but we also try to not go off on hiatus no knowing where we’re going turn next storywise. We try to spend a day or two thinking about what happens next before we break for the end of each season. The end of season three was no different.
Q: Did you have to direct the last two episodes in a row or did you plan it that way?
VG: We block shot the last two episodes and what that means is you board them and shoot them all as one giant episode. So you might be shooting a scene from episode 12 in the morning and then in the afternoon you’re shooting a scene in the same location from episode 13 and that’s a way of maximizing your budget and minimizing the number of moves you have to make. Any time you move all the trucks on a TV show like Breaking Bad it’s about $25,000 just to literally move the circus as we call it, all the folks who are needed to be there to shoot. So you block shoot and you save money. Therefore since we’re block shooting, it requires one director instead of two, I figured I’d be greedy and take the two for myself.
Q: You premiere on the 17th of July. Will you come to Comic Con?
VG: I’m hoping we have some sort of presence at Comic Con. It’s a wonderful thing and I would love for there to be some sort of Breaking Bad presence. As of yet I’m not sure that we necessarily will be. The issue may be that the subject matter, a guy who sells crystal meth, may be a little trickier or troublesome for the folks who run Comic Con because there’s a lot of kids who show up at Comic Con. I think the folks at Comic Con are good folks and I think we’ve got a lot of fans there, but unfortunately I think the meth angle was a little tricky when you try to appeal to families and younger kids, and I understand that completely.
Q: Did season four follow the path you expected, or are the episodes you come upon a new creative decision?
VG: Well, every episode brings us some opportunity for invention, even though we try to plot out the season as much in advance as we possibly can. There’s always interesting sort of side tracks and avenues that are open to us to take, so there were a few surprises for us in season four but hopefully a lot of big surprises in season four for the viewers.
Q: Will we get to see Walt in his undies again?
VG: You see Walt right now to beyond the undies actually in season four. Bryan Cranston will not be denied. He has to be naked as often as possible. He has to be free like a bird.
Q: We got to see Bryan Cranston in Drive, which he was amazing in. We should thank you for bringing more attention to him. Are you gratified to see the recognition he’s getting in other roles?
Q: Is the rest of your cast getting enough love?
VG: I think Bryan Cranston, and Aaro Paul is starting to get enough love. I’m hoping the same will follow for Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt and RJ Mitte. We have such an amazing core ensemble. Then Giancarlo Esposito, Jonathan Banks, David Costabile, we’re just blessed with the very deep bench of fine, fine actors on this show. I would love to see them all get even more praise and acclaim because they deserve just a ton of praise and acclaim for the show. They do such a great job and they make the show what it is.