What Caused Vince Gilligan to ‘Break Bad’?

Unless someone has been under a rock for the past few years, everyone has witnessed the AMC television show Breaking Bad take the cable and Netflix world by storm. For those of you, who have indeed been living under a rock, Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) learning that he has cancer and enlisting the help of a high school drop out turned low level drug dealer Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul) to ensure that he will be leaving enough money for his family after he dies, by cooking meth. The show takes many creative twists and turns and unfolds unexpectedly as Walter slowly descends morally, killing himself mentally, while the cancer kills him physically. Breaking Bad would go on to win 110 awards out of a total of 262 nominations, including 16 Primetime Emmys and 2 Golden Globs.

So, what was the inspiration behind Vince Gilligan’s master piece? When asked this question in an interview, he says, “My writers and I are inspired constantly by great movies and TV shows. Not just crime movies, but westerns. We take a lot of inspiration from the “spaghetti westerns” of Sergio Leone. Once Upon a Time in the West is a particular favorite, and the first fifteen minutes of that movie is something that I have potential directors of the show watch before they start directing for us. Also, The Godfather, Parts I and II. I was thinking of The French Connection when I directed the pilot. I was emulating the look of it, or perhaps a better word is stealing from it. I love the visual sense of that movie. Film noir is a big influence: the classic noirs — I could watch The Maltese Falcon once a month, probably — as well as the Coen brothers contemporary ones as well.”

It was interesting to find out that part of his inspiration were “spaghetti westerns” because after reading the answer to this question, it dawned on me that in fact, a lot of the cinematography is reminiscent of the old westerns with a lot of  low angles and over the shoulder shots. Not being a huge fan of westerns, it took reading the interview to jog my memory of the few westerns that I have seen.


One thought on “What Caused Vince Gilligan to ‘Break Bad’?

  1. alyssabrady March 19, 2015 / 1:32 pm


    I was obsessed with the show Breaking Bad and I couldn’t get enough. I would binge watch the episodes on Netflix for hours because of the acting, the plot and the drama. Now knowing that Vince Gilligan was inspired by bold western movies absolutely makes sense. The way Walter White would challenge his opponents was almost like a scene where two cowboys would draw their guns to see who would win the fight. And I definitely understand where Breaking Bad and the Godfather are connected. Walter White becomes a bad-a** drug dealer, with a hunger for money and power, which is exactly like the Godfather. Good post! I enjoyed reading it,


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