Shop talk: Vince Gilligan

'Breaking Bad' creator loves writers' enthusiasm

Shop Talk with Showrunners
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse | Tina Fey and Robert Carlock | Brad Falchuk | Jeff Schaffer | Alan Ball | Vince Gilligan | Steven Levitan | Greg Daniels | Robert King | Clyde Phillips

Your hardest decision as showrunner?
Letting people go.

Your favorite moment as a showrunner?
Walking into the office after a meeting or some such and — before they even know I’m there — and hearing my writers in the midst of some spirited argument over our show’s characters or plot. Their enthusiasm tickles me. I also feel it from our actors and crew, and it really buoys me on tough days. To think that one longshot idea I had six years ago now occupies the minds of 200-plus people (and pays them a salary, besides) is sobering and wonderful.

Your biggest fight with the network?
I don’t know that I’ve ever had a big fight with our network. Back in the beginning, we did disagree over the use of music on our show. I wanted more music, as that was what I was used to. AMC preferred less, as they felt a wall-to-wall soundtrack tries to squeeze emotion from an audience much in the same way a laugh track does. Turns out they were right. I’m glad they won that one.

What’s your reaction when you’re recognized by a fan of show?
It doesn’t happen often — so, genuine surprise, quickly followed by disbelief. Then, after that, it feels quite nice.

Your best collaborative moment on the set or with a network?
I’m not great at picking favorite moments. A TV show is nothing but collaboration, which is what I love about it. My writers, actors, producers and directors, my editors, my cinematographer, my production designer, you-name-it — I’m surrounded by the best in the business, and they add value and nuance to every idea I come up with. Either that, or they just plain come up with something better.

Which shows have influenced your show?
Too many to list. Plus, you can’t leave out movies! “The Godfather” parts I and II are mentioned in our writers’ room on a daily basis.

What would you want to say in an Emmy acceptance speech, but won’t?
Actually, my innermost thoughts would best be expressed through interpretive dance. I hear Emmy producers frown upon this, however.

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