AMC's chemistry test Vince Gilligan's 'Breaking Bad' returns for a darker second season


Vince Gilligan: Sony and AMC have been nothing but supportive, both creatively and financially. The network has never once said, "This show is too dark," or that we were going too far. In fact, there have been a couple of times when they hinted we weren't going far enough, that emotionally we could push things even more.

Gilligan: Yeah, we don't tend to hold a lot back. Sometimes, I can't even believe that AMC put this show on the air in the first place.

Gilligan: Actually, not so much. I sure hope we're not teaching people a new way to make a living — that is so not the message. We're trying to convey the opposite, actually, that this is just a tremendously stupid way to make money. But at the same time, we're careful not to be preachy about it or drive that nail home too hard.

Gilligan: I guess I must have some stuff lurking deep inside. I've had people who watched this ask me, "Jesus Christ, what the hell's the matter with you?" The truth is, I'm the straightest guy you've ever met. I'll have the occasional bourbon, but as far as drugs go, about the only thing I've ever had is the occasional Vicodin during a root canal. I've never hung out with meth dealers.

Gilligan: Oh no. Trust me, this isn't a case of writing what you know. I've never even so much as tried pot — not that I have anything against it.

Gilligan: Basically, I'm a good professional liar who knows how to make up stories. But I've had some technical consulting help from folks who are recovered addicts. We've got advisers who once were on the wrong side of the law who can say to (co-star) Aaron Paul, "No, that's not how you take a drag off of a meth pipe." My girlfriend's brother happens to be a chemist currently working for a lab in North Carolina, and he's helped give me a layman's understanding of chemistry and that end of it. I also have to say that the agents at the Drug Enforcement Administration office in Albuquerque have been really invaluable.

Gilligan: We originally went there primarily for the 25% tax rebate program. But it's truly a wonderful studio and setup there. You can practically walk from the airport to the studio complex, it's so close. And for those sequences where we're cooking meth and it looks like we're in the middle of the desert, we're actually maybe 100 yards from the offices. So we've got the best of both worlds.

Gilligan: It's looking very good. They won't make it official until we start airing Season 2, but I'm pretty positive we'll get the go-ahead.

Gilligan: We had an order for nine episodes but only got to make seven. As a result, I felt the story was really incomplete. But as tough as the WGA walkout was on the industry, I now see it as having had a silver lining for our show. I had planned to do a big cliffhanger, that in hindsight was too much too soon, that would have taken (Cranston's) character in a wrong direction. The strike wound up saving me from myself.

Gilligan: It depends on what you consider too far. In my world, the only "too far" is a matter of budget, not content. (partialdiff)