'Breaking Bad': Vince Gilligan on Why Walter White Never Tried His Product11/14/2021
From the time Breaking Bad started to when the AMC series’ finale aired in 2013, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) transformed into a completely different person. The show’s lead went from a chemistry teacher making meth to pay for his cancer treatment to a drug boss who watched mercilessly as people died to keep his secret. And arguably, Walter’s journey to becoming Heisenberg is the most compelling reason to watch Breaking Bad.
But even as Walter began crossing lines viewers never thought possible, there was one he never did. And series creator Vince Gilligan has a good reason for that.
Walter White never crossed this line in ‘Breaking Bad’
Walter White may have gotten deeper and deeper into the meth business in Breaking Bad, but Cranston’s character never actually tried the drugs he cooked. Despite Marie’s (Betsy Ann Brandt) hilarious suggestion that Walter might be smoking pot during the earlier seasons of the show, the lead never does any drugs on-screen. Unlike his partner, he’s all business when it comes to cooking.
To an outsider, that might seem odd — to spend so much time surrounded by drugs and never be tempted by them. And apparently, the writers considered going down that road with Walter White. However, a deeper look at his character stopped them in their tracks.
‘Breaking Bad’ creator Vince Gilligan on why Walter never tried his product
So, why didn’t Walter try the meth he made? With Breaking Bad‘s main character crossing every other line, it seems like an obvious storyline to throw in. However, series creator Vince Gilligan felt it wasn’t in character for him.
During a 2018 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gilligan explained why he never had Walter try his own product. According to him, the writers considered it. But it seemed clear the show’s lead was more addicted to the process of making meth — and the influence that stemmed from it:
“Somehow it just never seemed right. It seemed like the thing he’s hooked on was the power and the chemical process. I read stories of former meth cooks. A lot of the recovering ones we talked to or read about said that they became hooked on the process of cooking, as some heroin addicts become hooked on the process of getting a needle ready. It would’ve muddied the waters if he started using the drug, because this was a man who never had control in his life, and suddenly he’s got control. Why mess up a good thing?”
In that sense, Walter White does develop an addiction in Breaking Bad — just not the kind most viewers are used to exploring. It provides a contrast to Jesse Pinkman’s (Aaron Paul) journey, which sees Walt’s partner struggling with drug use.
The series explored meth addiction through Jesse Pinkman
Walter White’s story in Breaking Bad didn’t explore the struggle of making meth and becoming addicted, but it didn’t need to. That’s because the show delved into that subject through Jesse Pinkman, who continuously grapples with the consequences of his drug use. In fact, Walter and Jesse’s experiences contrast one another in an interesting way. They depict two very different types of people, both of whom the meth industry depends on.
And Jesse’s journey offers insight into the real harm people like Walter and Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) are doing while attempting to gain money and power. That message wouldn’t be so easily delivered if the bosses were also dipping into the product.
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