Anna Gunn: 'Breaking Bad' Ends 'Perfectly'

Anna Gunn talks about her character's descent into darkness as Breaking Bad sets to premiere.

Anna Gunn plays Skyler White in AMC's "Breaking Bad."
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Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston play Skyler and Walter White in AMC's

Does playing a big role in such a dark show take a mental toll on you?

There were times when we did some of those episodes that were the really heavy ones, where Walt and I did the intense stuff, it got pretty exhausting. I think the episode where I walk into the pool and then Walt and I have this scene in the bedroom, that really took it out of me. At the same time, I, as an actor, I didn't have to be there every single day like Bryan [Cranston]. I felt like I could never really complain. He had to be there every single day doing truly intense stuff. ...

Over the course of this show, you've worked with some tremendous people behind the scenes: Vince Gilligan, Michelle MacLaren and Rian Johnson all have their own vision and talent for great, dark storytelling. What has this collaborative experience been like? 

It's been amazing because in television, the pace is so fast. Normally, you get very little time to rehearse. We always had this atmosphere where they gave us a lot of time to rehearse when we came in at the top of the day.

Going back to the scene between Bryan and I after I walked into the pool: Rian is such a thoughtful and careful director and he had thought of that scene as me just staying on the bed, and that Bryan would be hovering over me because he thought that would create a lot of tension.

 

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Then he and [episode writer] Sam Catlin, they looked at it, and said 'That's good, but it would be really interesting to see what would happen if you got up and got away from Walt.' We did it again, he'd chase me, I would get back in his face and I ended up back on the bed. We felt that expressed what was going on in the scene physically the best that it could. [The directors] always put in a lot of time for us to be able to explore the scenes. I think much more so than a lot of other shows I've worked on.

Does Walter White deserve to die?

I really felt that Walt's fate should be whatever Vince wants it to be. I really felt that whatever Vince was going to come up with for Walt and for all the characters was going to be authentic, and I feel really strongly that that's what he and the writers did. They took a long time to think very carefully about each character and their story as a whole, and I really feels it ends perfectly. I don't make any kind of moral judgements on who should live and die, I'm just there as a storyteller within that piece. I have such trust and admiration for the writers and what they do. I think the audience is going to be tremendously satisfied because there's nothing that feels like a misstep, you have a sense of 'Ah, yeah, that's what should happen.'

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. "Breaking Bad" airs at 10 p.m. EST on AMC.

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