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Rule Breakers 2013: 'Duck Dynasty,' Bowie and 'Breaking Bad'

THR's third annual year-end celebration of entertainment's movers and shaker-uppers -- from 'Gravity's' Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron to Netflix's Ted Sarandos.

 

This story first appeared in the Jan. 3, 2014, issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

When Bryan Cranston's Walter White assessed the wreckage that his meth-cooking had wreaked in Breaking Bad's finale, the standard Hollywood trope would have called for a mea culpa moment. Instead, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan wrote three unrepentant lines for White that ricocheted across social media like one of the series' many spectacularly deployed bullets: "I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it."

PHOTOS: 'Duck Dynasty,' Matthew McConaughey, 'Breaking Bad' and the Rule Breakers of 2013 

All of this year's rule breakers were good at "it" -- be it writing, directing, marketing or distributing -- but in particular innovating, despite opposing industry wisdom. From Netflix's invasion of original prestige programming with its binge-viewing-enabling model, to the black filmmakers who brought such difficult subjects as slavery and police brutality to the masses, defiance of convention had plenty of company in 2013. Who would have thought a reality show about Louisiana eccentrics who manufacture duck calls would become cable's No. 2 series, not to mention a multimedia dynasty of best-selling books, music and merch? Or that a tiny film financier like A24 could reboot the indie film market for a new generation with the hit Spring Breakers, while an upstart studio could beat Disney-Pixar at its own game, with Despicable Me 2 grossing nearly $1 billion for Chris Meledandri's Illumination Entertainment? 2013 also marks the year that a fading leading man completed his emphatic transformation into a dramatic actor, as demonstrated by Matthew McConaughey's fluid turns in Mud and Dallas Buyers Club. Turns out taking the road less traveled can pay off big -- especially if done with plenty of commitment and finesse.

Read below for full list:

'Duck Dynasty' Stars Don't Mind Knockoffs and Imitators: We Need 'Clean Television'

"We're just kind of doin' what we do, and people identify with that," Jase Robertson tells THR of the series that regularly lures 9 million-plus viewers to A&E. Read more

'Despicable Me 2's' Mastermind: My Dad Was a Disruptor, Too

Chris Meledandri, whose sequel grossed almost $1 billion, recalls his fashion-designer father bringing Italian-style clothes to big cities: "If you were dressing in his clothes in New York or California, you were breaking a rule." Read more

John Singleton on Hollywood's 'Slavery Zeitgeist' (Guest Column)

The acclaimed director on how Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels' The Butler and Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave were made outside the studio system, and what's next for African-American movies: "The chains on what can be made and what can't in Hollywood have been unshackled." Read more

Ted Sarandos' 'Go Big or Go Home' Gamble: An Analyst Takes Stock

Richard Greenfield writes that originals like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black -- with their big-budget productions, A-list talent and binge-viewing potential -- are widening the rift between what customers want and what traditional TV provides. Read more

'Breaking Bad's' Vince Gilligan, Bryan Cranston Pen Mutual Fan Letters

For The Hollywood Reporter's Rule Breakers 2013 issue, the pair, photographed together, trade notes on what drove Breaking Bad to record ratings. Read more

How to Turn Three Teen Movies Into $26 Million and Counting

A24, the hot indie behind James Franco's "Consider This Shit" campaign for Spring Breakers, turned viral marketing of smart acquisitions The Bling Ring and The Spectacular Now into box-office gold. Read more

How Matthew McConaughey Changed the Narrative of His Career (Guest Column)

Mud producer Lisa Marie Falcone on the 44-year-old actor's turn from rom-com lead to acting tour de force: "I see this intensity in his eyes, you know this guy is going to kill it." Read more

Trent Reznor's Heartfelt Tribute to David Bowie (Guest Column)

The Nine Inch Nails frontman attests that Bowie's first album in 10 years, The Next Day, which beat Beyonce to the surprise-album punch, is more evidence that he "is in the very top tier of artists." Read more

'Frozen's' Jennifer Lee Wants Next Project to Be Sci-fi Blockbuster

Disney Animation's first female director tells THR she would have loved to work with renowned artist Glen Keane on The Little Mermaid: "There was something so magical about that film." Read more

Why 'Gravity's' Alfonso Cuaron Was Almost Kicked Out of Film School

The self-proclaimed formerly "obnoxious" director and his co-writer son Jonas discuss working together to pen the space epic starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney: "The idea sounds more crazy than the reality." Read more

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey: How 'The Bible's' Power Couple Work Together

The executive-producing husband and wife on "kicking down doors" to pitch the project -- now the top-selling miniseries DVD of all time -- as well as preparing its sequel, plus a feature film version, "Son of God." Read more

Director James Wan's Last Interview on 'Fast & Furious 7' Set Before Paul Walker Crash

"Compared to my past work, the set pieces in this film are incredibly out there," the director of The Conjuring and Insidious Chapter 2 told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's an amazing playground for me to play in." Read more

Key and Peele: 'Lorne Michaels Has a History of Relating to White Men' (Q&A)

Comedy Central's cult heroes talk to THR about building the No. 1 cable show in its time slot among young men, making a Judd Apatow movie and Saturday Night Live's casting problem: "There are a disproportionate amount of wacky white guys." Read more

Ylvis's Plans After 'The Fox': 'We Won't Be Disappointed If We're Kicked Out of the Country'

The Norwegian pair on their top-selling children's book and what else is next after the "tanked song project" that drew 275 million YouTube views: "We'll return to our office in Norway and still be happy." Read more

'Under the Dome's' Success Secret: CBS Execs "Were Able to Make Big, Ballsy Decisions"

Entertainment chief Nina Tassler and TV president David Stapf broke out the pricey, high-profile Stephen King miniseries during the summer slump -- and inked a groundbreaking deal with Amazon for a reported $700,000 per episode that made the show instantly profitable. Read more

James Franco Calls 'This Is the End' 'The Best Comedy of the Year'

The actor tells THR about directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's "collaborative" process that had Hollywood friends lending authenticity to the apocalyptic spoof by playing themselves: "Some pretty lady doesn't die. Rihanna dies." Read more