Breaking Bad fans finally understand Skyler, says Anna Gunn

Breaking Bad fans finally understand Skyler, says Anna Gunn

“I am proud to have written this open letter,” explains the actress, who receives fewer misogynistic comments.

The whole team of breaking Bad and of Better Call Saul recently came together to celebrate the latter's 10th anniversary, so when The Hollywood Reporter encounter Anna Gunn to talk about his new series, Sugar with Colin Farrell on Apple TV+, questions quickly arise about these two shows signed Vince Gilligan.

Paradox of success breaking Badthe ex-interpreter of Skyler received two Emmy Awards for her interpretation of the wife of Walter White (Brian Cranston), but at the same time she was the subject of significant hatred from part of the public, going as far as insults and threats.

A decade after the end of the series, she confides in this very special welcome to the American magazine.

“I am proud to have written this open letter in the New York Times in 2013, she begins, as our final season was airing. You know, I'm not on social media, it's not my thing. So for a while, I wasn't even aware of what was being said online (about Skyler, editor’s note). Until people warned me. Of course, I wanted to know, I said to myself: 'I'm going to read this', and it was probably a mistake. Which, however, led me to ask myself constructive questions. I was wondering : 'Wait, is that from me?' I believe the authors of the series had the same thoughts: 'Is it related to the way we wrote it?' At the time, Vince often told me: 'It's crazy, no matter what we do with Walt, he can go beyond anything, people will always support him like: 'Yeah ! We're behind him!''

“So I threw myself into the fire, for lack of a better expression, she continues, to understand where all these reactions of hatred came from (towards Skyler). Many of them were downright misogynistic. These negative messages were directly linked to the way female characters are treated. Fortunately, we have come a long way since then. If I can call them my sisters, I am very proud of the way the actresses spoke out on all these topics, the way they paved the way to create new anti-heroines for them. I felt the need to speak publicly about it at the time because I have two daughters, and it seemed important for them to know what happened. They were too young to watch breaking Bad at the time, at least from what I know (laughs). But this situation had troubled us all.”

“You know, no one has ever come to me and said: 'God, I hate you!', she then says. People don't do that. They hide behind the anonymity of the internet, we all know how that works. They can write all these derogatory remarks that they would never dare say to someone's face. Sometimes it touched me. When it became violent, threatening, I was worried. I didn't want to feel bullied by all this, I told myself it was my responsibility to answer it clearly, so that's what I did.

Today, when people come to see me, it's incredibly different. There have been all these strong changes. Of course, there is still a long way to go, but things have evolved nonetheless. Now, people are calling on me to say: 'For me, you were the pillar of this series.' Or 'You were his conscience.' Some admit: 'The first time I watched it, I hated this character. But when I saw it again, I realized: 'My God, what a poor woman!''”

Anna Gunn is then questioned about a rumor that circulated throughout the making of Better Call Saulthe series derived from breaking Bad. Would she have liked to appear as Skyler in this new show? Maybe to put the points straight? Or did she avoid coming back so as not to suffer a new wave of hatred?

“I do not know, she thought. If I were to write this letter today, it would be different, because more than ten years have passed. But at the time, I felt the need to stand up and say what I had to say. In a way, I've made peace with it all. I have the impression that more people were getting involved in this at the time, that today it has evolved and people understand it all better. So I don't know if I would have been afraid to come back (for a cameo in Better Call Saul). How would the writers have written this? They already felt so bad (regarding negative reactions to Skyler). Sometimes they came to me to apologize, they said to me: 'We're sorry!' It's such a bizarre phenomenon. People love anti-heroes. They dream of being the one who answers: 'Fuck you…' to their boss or other, the one who says to himself: 'I do what I want.' Skyler was the only one to see through the lies (from Walter).”

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During this interview, Anna Gunn salutes Rian Johnson, who directed her during a particularly trying scene to play in the cult episode Ozymandias (Alone in the world in VF, number 14 of season 5), and that he supported her between takes. “He just held my hand, I don’t think we spoke at the time.”, she says. A gesture that simply did him good. She also recalls what a pleasure it was to have Bryan Cranston as a playing partner, even if they had to film many conflict scenes.

Asked about her new role opposite Colin Farrell, she says:

“I told him several times: 'You are a true gentleman.' And that's true. He is kind, he looks out for others. He is always involved He not only starred in Sugar, he is also the producer, and yet he seems perpetually good in his sneakers. As if to make us understand that he is always there to answer our questions. I don't know what else to tell you, I feel incredibly lucky to have had such partners on screen, with whom it works immediately.

That's what I already said about Bryan: with him, it's like playing a game of tennis with an excellent player. You serve him the ball, he returns it perfectly and may even push you to dive to catch it. I find this way of playing incredibly stimulating. When we arrive on set, everyone has done their homework, we know where we're going, we know our characters, and we can really have fun with them. That's what I felt then with Bryan and I found that again with Colin.”

Here is the trailer for Sugarto watch on Apple TV+:

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