San Diego Comic-Con cooked up a special reunion on Thursday.
The Breaking Bad team reunited in Hall H in honor of the 10th anniversary of the AMC drama, which premiered in January 2008. By the time it left the airwaves in 2013, the little series about a chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin had developed a ravenous fan base.
“This is like introducing The Beatles,” noted host (and Breaking Bad alum) Bill Burr as he brought out the team: creator and showrunner Vince Gilligan and leading men Bryan Cranston (Walter White) and Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman), who brought out his infant daughter, dressed in a yellow hazmat suit authentic to the show. Also onstage were co-stars Anna Gunn (Skylar White), Dean Norris (Hank Schrader), Betsy Brandt (Marie Schrader), R.J. Mitte (Walt Jr.), Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman) and Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring).
The show didn’t become a phenomenon until relatively late in the game, so the cast and crew had the benefit of making the early seasons in relative anonymity.
“Nobody knew who we were. I knew we started to make an impact when the directional signs started to be stolen,” Cranston said, referring to signs telling where cast and crew should park. “I kept thinking, ‘Not only am I getting lost, but something is happening.'”
Gilligan recalled Cranston’s first Emmy win as the most out-of-body experience he’s ever had.
“I’m thinking there’s no way he’s going to win. Just because it was only seven episodes. And they said ‘Bryan Cranston.’ All the air went out of my lungs,” said Gilligan. “I hit my hands together so hard, as soon as I got home I had to put them in ice water.”
One of the keys to the show’s success was the chemistry between Paul and Cranston. Famously, Gilligan initially intended to kill off Jesse, something Cranston would use to tease his co-star by hinting that the week’s script had some bad news for him.
“He comes up to me and just gives me a really long, exaggerated hug,” recalled Paul. “And he’s just not letting me go. I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ ‘Hey man, it’s been a fun ride.’ I’m like, ‘What do you mean?’ … He walks away.”
Paul read the script, and naturally Jesse was still alive. Another time, Cranston told Paul they needed to measure him for a coffin, acting like it was something Paul knew about.
Though Breaking Bad ended on a definitive note, the question on people’s minds until it happens is when Walt or Jesse might show up on the prequel spinoff Better Call Saul.
“I think there’s an excellent chance of any and all these folks showing up,” said Gilligan. “[But] you will not see Walt or Jesse in season four of Better Call Saul, and not to be a downer, but we hate jerking folks around.”
Gilligan added he would not be surprised if they showed up before the series ended.
The reunion followed a panel for Better Call Saul, starring Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, the criminal lawyer who eventually becomes Saul Goodman. Odenkirk seems to be pushing for Norris’ Hank to show up on the series, pointing out that in their first scene together in Breaking Bad, it was established they knew each other — and didn’t care for one another.
“Something bad happened. Let’s find out what it is,” said Odenkirk.
As for the future, during an audience Q&A portion of the panel, a fan asked about the possibility of Breaking Bad becoming a film. Cranston was quick to say, “No.” But Gilligan wasn’t 100 percent against it.
“I love that question. Anything is possible. We live in a world fraught with possibilities,” he said with a smile.