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Anna Gunn Ponders Breaking, Bad Romances

Emmy-nominated Anna Gunn plays Skylar White, the long-suffering wife to Bryan Cranston's meth kingpin on AMC's "Breaking Bad." As the final season kicks off, she shares a few other depictions of dysfunction...that worked.

Anna Gunn / Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for AMC

Hi, I’m Anna Gunn and I play Skyler White on “Breaking Bad.” I am the wife of Walter White, who starts out as a very nice chemistry teacher, and then he decides to become a crystal meth cooker. A little bit of a rough relationship. They do not share very many happy moments. So, I’ve come with a little list, a little guest list of who would rival the Whites in dysfunction.


1. “The Ice Storm”

The first thing that actually came to mind was the movie “The Ice Storm” because everyone’s dysfunctional in that movie. “The Ice Storm” is about a bunch of families in the 70’s living in a suburb, and it’s Christmas time, and it should be a happy time of celebration, and there is just this aching sense of ennui, this boredom.

Kevin Kline is having an affair with Sigourney Weaver, I believe. Joan Allen plays Kevin Kline’s wife, and there’s just this one scene I remember where she’s doing dishes and she knows what’s been going on, and keeps it inside, but you can feel it like about to boil over in her.

I watched it a couple of times when I started doing “Breaking Bad.” That kind of marriage made me think so much of the Whites. Both of them are people it seems to me who have had lots of dreams deferred, and lots of disappointments, but they pretend things are okay, and we just go about our daily business, and if we don’t say anything about it, maybe it won’t even really be there.

2. “The Shining”

Number two on my list would be the Stanley Kubrick film “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. Oh my gosh, it’s about a mother and father and their little boy who go to be caretakers of this big resort.

The resort is closed in the wintertime, and then it really starts to make Jack Nicholson truly crazy. She keeps trying to smile and say, “Oh well, let’s have some dinner,” and okay, and she just is in denial until he’s coming at her with the… You know… What did he come at her with? An ax, that’s what it was!

Until he starts coming at her with the ax, I think she’s like, “Maybe I can deal with it.” And then perhaps after that she thinks, “Oh, I don’t know that I can come back from that.” It’s time for a divorce at that time, yes.

3. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

My third pick is from one of my favorite plays, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” by the wonderful Edward Albee. The characters of George and Martha are, they bring dysfunction to an entirely new level, I think.

The plot really is just they invite a couple who just moved to town over for a drink, a little getting to know you party, and all hell breaks loose. Lots of buried truths are exposed and hurled about like weaponry.

That’s probably the point where the young couple might look at their watches and say, “You know what, we have got to be up kind of early in the morning, so nice to see you, thank you very much,” but they don’t. They stay.

I think we like to watch things like this because we all know that nobody can be more cruel to you than the person who knows you and loves you best, because they’ve got everything on you. To watch people going through that, I think, it’s fascinating.