Talk to any TV fan about the greatest shows of all time, and they will no doubt mention Vince Gillian's 5-season AMC masterpiece, Breaking Bad. It was sleeper-hit that left millions around the world asking their friends if they'd seen it too and gave it a fanbase that few from the network expected.
Yet the concept of the show was relatively straightforward. A laconic middle-aged high school chemistry teacher is diagnosed with cancer and realising how little time he has left, decides to put his chemistry skills to a more profitable use by entering the meth business. Interesting, though certainly not unique (Weeds, anyone?), it was the incredible acting and use of secondary characters that truly brought the show to life so we thought it best to pay homage to the series by profiling 10 facts you might not have known about Gillian's groundbreaking creation.
1. HBO famously passed on the show- but so did many others
AMC have lifetime bragging rights for being the show that took a punt on Breaking Bad when every other major network passed on it.
According to Gillian, Showtime, TNT, and FX all passed on Breaking Bad, but as he recalled in a previous interview, his pitch to HBO was the worst. " (It was) The worst meeting I ever had … The woman we [were] pitching to could not have been less interested—not even in my story, but about whether I actually lived or died."
Somewhat ironically, HBO are now working on a limited series with Gillian about Jim Jones. We wonder why...
2. The DEA taught Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul how to cook meth
The DEA could have quickly raised an eyebrow when asked by AMC producers to consult their actors on how to make the purest form of crystal meth, but they obliged, and because of their willing participation, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul were given professional advice from chemists.
“We informed them—with all due respect and consideration—that we’re doing this show, and ‘Would you like to be a part of it in a consultancy in order to make sure that we get it right?’” Cranston revealed to the High Times. “They had the choice to say, ‘We don’t want anything to do with it.’ But they saw that it might be in their best interest to make sure that we do it correctly.
3. The blue meth is actually rock candy
While DEA agents were more than accommodating in informing the cast and crew about how to create meth, they were never going to give them the real deal, so the team had to make do with rock candy instead.
Officially called blue rock candy, it can be found in Albuquerque's boutique candy shop, The Candy Land. After the show had taken off, the store decided to cash in on the phenomenon and create a plethora of Breaking Bad-inspired candies under their Bad Candy Lady line.
4. Jessie Pinkman's character was only supposed to last one season
Arron Paul's career in Hollywood has never been the same ever since he came to prominence in the hit show and in his own words, admitted that he if his iconic character had been killed off in season one, his career "would be over."
However, despite rumours that the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike saved him from the chop, Gilligan confessed that he knew by the second episode that Paul's abilities as an actor were something special and that his character was essential to the story going forward. "I knew by episode two—we all did," he said. "Everybody knew just how good [Aaron Paul is], and a pleasure to work with, and it became pretty clear early on that that would be a huge, colossal mistake to kill off Jesse.”
5. Walter's boss at the carwash is a qualified chemist
Before Walt went all Pablo Escobar on us and became a fully certified G, he kept his family afloat by working a second job at the carwash, a dissatisfying job that was made worse by his arriviste boss, Bogdan Wolynetz.
Played by Marius Stan, who incidentally, had an incredible set of eyebrows, it soon transpired that not only was the role just his second job in acting, but his primary job was as a senior chemist at a national lab. Possessing a PhD in the subject, a Reddit thread confirmed that Stan is a "Senior Computational Energy Scientist at Argonne National Lab—which is one of the national laboratories under the U.S. Dept. of Energy—and a Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago, the Computation Institute."
6. Walter White's alter ego is based on a real person
Instead of coming up with a bad-ass name like Heisenberg and just going with it, the name was based on a real person.
In fact, the drug lord's ruthless alter ego name was a tribute to Werner Heisenberg, a Nobel-prize winning physicist whose work was responsible for the principle of uncertainty.
7. Pizza is often thrown onto the roof of the White's house
Such is the bemouth of the show, people from far and wide travel to the quaint Alberquerqe setting with a host of specially designed tours guiding visitors through the show's most notable settings.
However, with Albuquerque being a real place and not a film set, the show's creator had to inform fans that the actual owner of the White's house, who is an old lady and long-time resident, still has to regularly climb atop her roof and get rid of hurled pizzas following fans eagerness to re-create the scene where Walt throws a pizza on the roof following Skylar's refusal to let him inside.
8. American billionaire Warren Buffet is a fan of Walter White's entrepreneurial skills
You'd think the poster boy of American capitalism would shun meth dealers, but after being an open fan of the show, the American billionaire was invited to the 5th season premier and had nothing but praise for the fictional character.
Speaking to reporters, Buffet referred to White as a "Great businessman" and added, "he’s my guy if I ever have to go toe-to-toe with anyone."
9. The total number of characters killed on the show is ridiculously high
Game of Thrones might have broken the record for the number of on-screen TV deaths, but Breaking Bad likely comes a close second after Buzzfeed profiled each death.
Totalling 270, the number is considerably higher than the 54 times Jessie uses the word "B*tch."
10. The network initially wanted Matthew Broderick or John Cusack for the lead role of Walter White
Breaking Bad without Bryan Cranston is now unthinkable, but cast your mind back to Cranston's pre-Breaking Bad days, and he was little more than a jobbing actor whose biggest role had come on the hit children's series, Malcolm in the Middle.
Not exactly an unknown but hardly a star, the network initially had their eyes set on either Matthew Broderick or John Cusack but Vince Gilligan, after working with Cranston on an episode of the X-Files, convinced producers that Cranston ticked all the boxes. "We needed somebody who could be dramatic and scary yet have an underlying humanity, " Gilligan revealed, "so when he dies, you felt sorry for him.Bryan nailed it."