AMC drama Breaking Bad undoubtedly was one of the most popular TV shows during its five-season run from 2008-2013. The series picked up multiple Golden Globe and Emmy nominations along the way, winning a few of them. The Breaking Bad cast recently reunited to celebrate the show's 10-year anniversary since it first aired by doing a tell-all interview with Entertainment Weekly.
During the interview, Anna Gunn, who played Walter White's wife, Skyler, gave an in-depth view on why she thinks fans of the show hated her character.
When Bryan Cranston's Breaking Bad character, Walter White, discovered that he had cancer, he immediately went into survivor mode in terms of making sure his family would be well taken care of in the off-chance he died. Teaming up with former student, Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, Walter became a top drug lord, specializing in cooking meth.
For Gunn, playing Skyler proved to be quite challenging, especially after her character had to come to terms with what and who her husband had become. The fact that fans of the show harshly criticized not only her character, but her as well, made the job even tougher.
"It shook me. As an actor, my job is not to always play characters who make everybody happy. That's not interesting. But when you are on a show that has become that big and people are identifying you so much with somebody that they dislike, you can't help but feel like you get folded into it."
Given Walt's reason to decide to go into the meth business, fans began rooting for him and he became a "hero" in his cause for wanting to provide for his family, and Gunn feels that Skyler quickly became the enemy in viewers' eyes.
"People did find a hero in Walt, but they wanted so much to connect with him so viscerally that to see the person who often was his antagonist — they felt like she was in the way of him doing whatever he wanted to do, and that he should be allowed to do what he wanted to do."
Gunn recounted a time when she and the cast participated in a Q&A panel and a guy in the audience asked her straightforward, "Why is your character such a b**ch?"
"He was so clearly firmly with Walt, and thought Skyler was just this awful, nagging person," Gunn said. "I think we were all kind of shocked."
While she found people's negative reactions toward Skyler "so interesting," it made her doubt herself as an actress in the process.
"There was a lot of questioning: 'Am I doing something wrong? Am I not serving the character? Am I not serving the story? It was extremely important for me to go through, and very powerful for me to learn that people will always have their opinions."
Luckily, Gunn's former co-stars shared her shock and puzzlement about how viewers came to seriously hate her character. Aaron Paul took it further by claiming that instead of hating Skyler, fans should have "sympathized" with her.
"Why did our audience not sympathize with this poor woman? Granted, she is the thorn in Walter White's side, and everyone's rooting for Walter to succeed, but my God. You wake up one day you find out your husband is a meth kingpin, you know, you're going to have something to say about that."
Paul went on to praise Gunn for her "fierce" portrayal of Skyler and how he "really felt" for Gunn herself because "people just dragged her character the most." Cranston shared Paul's sentiment and revealed he was "baffled" by the fans view on Gunn.
However, Gunn is no longer torn up about it and admits that she's "really glad" to have endured all the hate.
"It wasn't a pleasant thing to go through, necessarily, but it was fascinating. I was really glad that I went through it and that I learned what I learned and that ultimately I realized, this is not about me. This is not about me, Anna Gunn, and it's really not about Skyler."
Gunn knows how much people connected with Walt and her role as the wife, she thinks maybe some people felt that she should have been more subservient and carried herself in the "be seen, not heard" way that women were accustomed to in the past.
"It's about the way people are connecting to him. It's also about the way that people still hold on to, perhaps, older ideas of what a woman or a wife should be or how she should act or how she should behave."
The Breaking Bad cast grace the cover of Entertainment Weekly magazine's next issue, which hits newsstands on Friday, July 6, and will appear at San Diego Comic-Con in light of the 10-year anniversary.
All five seasons of the show are available to watch on Netflix.