Vince Gilligan Talks 'Battle Creek' Role, Vintage Scripts, Cereal TV

'He Just Went for it'
Austin Hargrave

"I’m pretty boring — I never intentionally break rules," says Gilligan. "I think that’s what most interested me about Walter White. So, as an experiment, I wanted to start the series with this nice, likable guy, and then, bit by bit, make him less so. Ironically, that’s the opposite of what happened. Walt remained likable throughout. People would tell me, 'He’s doing terrible things, but I can’t stay mad at Walt!' This is due to Bryan: He never vacillated, he never got scared. He just went for it, 150 percent."

Making his second appearance during the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Vince Gilligan returned to the stage Thursday afternoon for a show he probably never thought would see the light of day.

Battle Creek, the Breaking Bad creator's 12-year-old pilot script, landed a series order at CBS last year with House's David Shore on board to take the reins. And while Gilligan was effusive about the revived project, he was adamant about playing a small role moving forward.

"I'm sorry I'm not a bigger part of this show as I'd like to be as my duties on Better Call Saul are taking [my time]," said Gilligan.

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Somewhat surprised by the show's new life, Gilligan also brushed off questions about guarantees for the project — like airing every episode. "Twelve years ago, I wanted to make this show; they didn't have to make a lot of guarantees," he said. "Not even remotely did I see the success of Breaking Bad [back then]. I thought I would be lucky not living in half of a double-wide. It was a wobbly win on my part."

When asked about the origins of the project, Gilligan said that he remembers little about coming up with the detective drama. And he admittedly has no ties to the titular midwestern city.

"It's more embarrassing to say that I've never actually been to Battle Creek, Michigan," he said.

Star Josh Duhamel chimed in to remind Gilligan and Shore that Gilligan initially told him he'd been intrigued by the city's name appearing on the box of every box of Kellogg's cereal, to which Gilligan only partially conceded.

As for the old source material, Shore said the vintage quality is one of the things that initially drew him to the pilot.

"In a weird way, it felt 30 years old. There's a nostalgia in Vince, I think," said Shore, also shrugging off the suggestion of pressures associated with his collaborator. "I think it's a fool's errand for me to try to replicate Breaking Bad or anything."