Nearly five years after “Breaking Bad” concluded, it may be difficult to remember how intense the hatred for Skyler White was among certain fans. Not for Anna Gunn, who played the wife of Bryan Cranston’s meth kingpin and was so taken aback by the backlash that she penned a New York Times op-ed about it. Now, as part of the acclaimed drama’s 10-year reunion, Gunn has once again addressed the sexist vitriol leveled at both her and her character, which she admits was “very tough” to deal with.
“It shook me,” Gunn tells Entertainment Weekly. “As an actor, my job is not to always play characters who make everybody happy. That’s not interesting. In fact, characters that are more difficult in a way are more 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.”
“It was very bizarre and confusing to us all,” she adds. “It was a combination of sexism, ideas about gender roles, and then honestly, it was the brilliance of the construct of the show. 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 — therefore the show’s antagonist in a way — 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.”
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Gunn won two of the three Emmys she was nominated for throughout her time on “Breaking Bad,” which also brought oodles of awards to co-stars Cranston and Aaron Paul; the show itself won Outstanding Drama Series for its final season and is widely regarded as one of the greatest series ever made.
“It wasn’t a pleasant thing to go through, necessarily, but it was fascinating. It created a seismic shift and change in my life. 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,” Gunn continues.
“This is not about me, Anna Gunn, and it’s really not about Skyler. 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. In the end, change isn’t always comfortable and isn’t always pleasant, but it’s good that it was brought to people’s attention and consciousness.”
Read the rest of the interview — which also features thoughts from Cranston, Paul, and series creator Vince Gilligan — here.