Writer/ Show Creator
About This Interview
Writer/Producer Vince Gilligan was interviewed for nearly four hours in Burbank, CA. He talked about knowing that he wanted to be involved with storytelling, in film or television, from a very early age. He discussed his education at NYU Film school and winning a screenwriting award which lead to his first jobs in television writing. He discussed becoming a staff writer on The X-Files after a chance meeting with series' creator Chris Carter. He spoke in great detail about his seven years as a writer, and later producer, on X-Files and described several specific episodes including the Emmy-winning "Memento Mori". He spoke about the short-lived spinoff, The Lone Gunmen, and how both series were affected by the events of 9/11. He spoke at length about his current project (then concluding season 4), the AMC drama Breaking Bad, which he created and produced. The interview was conducted by Jenni Matz on August 9, 2011.
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- Vince Gilligan on the inspiration for Breaking Bad and the character of "Walter White"
Clip begins at: 20:58
- Vince Gilligan on the moment he's proudest of on Breaking Bad, when Walter White turns down a no-strings offer for money, which is supposed to be the reason he's making sacrifices; making his character less sympathetic from early on in the series
Clip begins at: 50:12, Duration: 05m 34s
- Vince Gilligan on how he realized Bryan Cranston could portray a "sympathetic creep" when he played a guest role on X-Files
Clip begins at: 46:59, Duration: 02m 45s
- Vince Gilligan on how the X-Files writer's room would "break" the story by building a scene "brick by brick"
Clip begins at: 12:15, Duration: 03m 14s
- Vince Gilligan on not knowing how Breaking Bad will end; "I have hopes and dreams for these characters"
Clip begins at: 37:39
- Part 1
- On his family; on his childhood primarily in Farmville, Virginia; on his education and hobbies
Clip begins at: 0:0
- On an early interest in television and movies; on early encouragement he received from an elementary school teacher
Clip begins at: 04:26
- On pursuing an education at NYU's Tisch School to pursue his love of film; on his screenplay Home Fries which won the Virginia Governor's Award for screenwriting and was noticed by producer Marc Johnson; on the advice he took to heart from Johnson to not move out to Los Angeles too early; on finally getting Home Fries made ten years after it was written
Clip begins at: 08:22
- On starting a career in television writing after many years in Virginia; on meeting Chris Carter; on "falling ass-backward" into a job as a writer on the X-Files; on writing the episode "Soft Light"
Clip begins at: 24:13
- On the challenges of becoming a writer on X-Files, an already-established show; on promptly getting sick as soon as he joined the staff; on writing "Pusher"
Clip begins at: 35:41
- On what he learned about writing for television on X-Files; on the guidelines Chris Carter set for the writer's room; on the importance of the visual element in the show
Clip begins at: 40:00
- On his interaction with Standards & Practices and what he was able to show on X-Files versus Breaking Bad; he couldn't show a gun held to a head during a game of Russian Roulette
Clip begins at: 55:16
- Part 2
- On coming on staff as an X-Files writer in 1995 after the show had been on-air for two years; on the conspiracy themes explored on the show
Clip begins at: 0:0
- On specific episodes he wrote for X-Files; "Bad Blood"
Clip begins at: 06:09
- On "breaking" a story as a writer and how a scene is constructed "brick by brick"
Clip begins at: 10:30
- On the relationship between the X-Files writers and the research team that studied the science on the show
Clip begins at: 15:29
- On the enormous fan following that X-Files generated; on the early days of the Internet and early blog sites and how much that the writers were aware of that; on the mythology episodes of the series
Clip begins at: 18:12
- On the balance between maintaining the audiences' interest in mystery and giving them the answers they want; on the importance of balancing levity and drama
Clip begins at: 24:00
- On directing his first episode of X-Files, "Je Souhaite"; on "Sunshine Days" which was shot in a replica of The Brady Bunch house
Clip begins at: 30:27
- On being influenced by television shows such as The Andy Griffith Show; All in the Family; Wise Guy, The Twilight Zone
Clip begins at: 39:55
- On how he realized Bryan Cranston could portray a "sympathetic creep" when he played a guest role on X-Files; on being nominated for an Emmy for his work on the series; on decisions about the storyline and casting for the series
Clip begins at: 42:30
- Part 3
- On the end of The Lone Gunmen series and how it intersected with the X-Files;
Clip begins at: 0:0
- On his memories of 9/11 and how it affected the X-Files' cast and crew; on the finale of X-Files; on how the Lone Gunmen alluded to the events of 9/11
Clip begins at: 03:22
- On the legacy of X-Files; on the series Harsh Realm which he is credited with writing but did not
Clip begins at: 15:12
- On the genesis of Breaking Bad; what influenced the show; on pitching the idea of a middle-aged family man cooking a meth lab to cable networks; on his experience with rejection and bad pitches
Clip begins at: 19:01
- On how Breaking Bad eventually got picked up by FX; on comparisons between Breaking Bad and Weeds; on why he never even pitched to a network; on thinking the show was never going to be made; on how AMC took over production on the show
Clip begins at: 32:02
- On how Breaking Bad got its name; on the major plot points of the show; on the lead character Walter White; on why he knew Bryan Cranston could portray the character; on why he made choices to make the character less sympathizable; on casting the show
Clip begins at: 43:22
- Part 4
- On the casting process on Breaking Bad; Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Giancarlo Esposito
Clip begins at: 0:0
- On the importance of realism on Breaking Bad;on the Breaking Bad episode "Negro Y Azul" in Season Two featuring the narcocorrido
Clip begins at: 22:00
- On the correlation between topical events such as drug trafficking in Mexico with Breaking Bad plotlines; on the episode "The Fly"
Clip begins at: 27:40
- On how much of the story of Breaking Bad he planned out before the series began; on where he sees the show going
Clip begins at: 33:16
- On advice to writers: "go down swinging on something that's important"; on where he sees himself in ten years
Clip begins at: 44:49