El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie hit Netflix and limited theaters last Friday, and the general consensus about the film is that it’s well-executed but ultimately inessential. Turns out writer/director Vince Gilligan agrees about that last part; in a new interview, he admits that “this movie, strictly speaking, does not need to exist.”
Read Gilligan’s comments calling the film a “gift to the fans,” learn about the lengths he and his team were willing to go in order to preserve some of the film’s surprises, and read about some of the El Camino deleted scenes which will be available on an eventual Blu-ray release. Warning: spoilers ahead.
Gilligan gave a lengthy interview to Rolling Stone that’s worth reading in its entirety, but I’ll highlight a few of the best quotes here.
How The Film Came To Be
After spending years thinking about what happened to Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman following the events of the Breaking Bad finale, Gilligan began to formulate an idea for what would eventually become El Camino:
When the 10th anniversary of the show came along last year, I started to think, “Maybe we get a little money from Sony and we do a mini-episode. We’ll call it ’63,’ like the 63rd episode. And it’s maybe 15 or 20 minutes long.” That quickly morphed into an hour-long episode. And then that morphed into a two-hour movie. It’s not really cost-effective to put a crew together to do one hour’s worth of story. It grew into this movie quickly.
Many of his Breaking Bad writers (many of whom are working on Better Call Saul) didn’t like the idea of referring to the potential mini-episode as “63” because that implied that there was something unfulfilled about Breaking Bad the series. Gilligan didn’t want to make that implication to audiences, so he ended up evolving the project from there – including one permutation in which Jesse Pinkman ended up in jail.
El Camino Deleted Scenes
Gilligan teased two scenes that didn’t make the final cut. One is an alternate version of the shootout at the welding factory:
Jesse stands toe-to-toe with [Neil] and asks for $1,800. I believe in my heart of hearts, if the guy had given him the money, he’d have been out of there. But Jesse read the room right, so he was going for Plan B. It was a very dangerous gambit, because he nearly was shot in the process. And by the way, for what it’s worth, in the original script, and the version we filmed, he actually gets shot through the side, and then goes off and recuperates with help from Ed [Robert Forster]. When the Blu-ray comes out, we’ll have that as a deleted scene.
The other is a lengthier version of the brief conversation we see between Jesse and his girlfriend Jane (Krysten Ritter), which Gilligan says “was a longer scene in the movie, and you’ll be able to see that in the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray.”
Bryan Cranston’s Cameo
The Hollywood Reporter has a detailed piece on the secrecy Gilligan and his squad utilized to make sure word of the cast’s appearances in Albuquerque didn’t leak online – especially Bryan Cranston’s return as Walter White in a flashback sequence. There’s some interesting stuff in there, like the fact that every shot with Cranston’s head involves CG because his bald cap didn’t look right, but the Rolling Stone piece has Gilligan explaining the set-up in his own words, so I’ll use his quote below:
“We shot that scene in one day, and it was really fun, because pretty much every extra in the scene is either crew people or moms or dads or brothers and sisters of crew people. It was done from necessity, because we were trying very hard to keep it secret a) that we were doing a Breaking Bad movie, and b) that we had Walter White and Jesse Pinkman back. So we tented the whole place, we snuck Bryan into town. We had to fly him on in a private jet, not because he demanded it, but if he had flown in commercially, everyone and their grandmother would have known about it. He only had 36 hours because he was doing his Broadway play, Network. It was an amazing logistical feat put together by my wonderful producers. We brought him into town, put a bag over his head practically. Put him in a tinted car going to the set. Even his face was covered going in and out of the set.”
“This Movie…Does Not Need to Exist”
And finally, Gilligan admits that when it comes right down to it, this is not a story that was begging to be told:
…This is probably not something I should be saying to you, but to say it again, this movie, strictly speaking, does not need to exist. I stand by the fact that Breaking Bad stands on its own. And I’m proud as hell of that. This started off as a bit of a trifle. Having said that, it morphed into this somewhat big-budget, event-type movie that I couldn’t be more proud of. Netflix was wonderful, Sony was wonderful in allowing us to make this thing. But ultimately, are you required to watch this as a fan of Breaking Bad to have a complete experience? No, you’re really not. But I’m hoping people will take it for what it is: something that’s meant to be a gift to the fans, and a gift to Aaron Paul, who I truly believe deserves many more movies where he’s the star. It was something done for the love of it, something that I hope people will enjoy and get some sort of deeper satisfaction from.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is streaming on Netflix now.
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