Bob Odenkirk Still Can't Understand Why 'Breaking Bad's Walter White Is So Popular
You know you're dealing with an antihero character on another level when even other members of the cast can't figure out why everyone is so into him. Case in point: Bob Odenkirk still can't understand why Walter White was so popular. The actor was, of course, the Saul Goodman to Bryan Cranston's Walter White on Breaking Bad, and, for all the respect the former clearly has for the series, and despite the skill required to play a character like Walter White, Odenkirk still for the life of him can't figure out how fans were able to justify supporting him.
Almost four years after Braking Bad's finale aired in September 2013, and with his own spinoff Better Call Saul already in its third season, Odenkirk is still puzzling over the issue. He told BigIssue:
A character can be so bad and people are still on their side? You think, really? How bad can you be? People sympathized with Walter White! [Breaking Bad creator] Vince Gilligan said that he hated this guy, how he couldn’t live in that life anymore, how he was an awful person.
This is clearly something that works away at his brain, how anyone could possibly root for Walter White, especially by the end when all trace of a moral compass had vanished.
Reading Odenkirk's thoughts on the matter, it almost seems like it affects his worldview a bit; if audiences don't allow their support to be swayed by the public hatred of the character by the very man who created him, then what exactly is going on in all of our brains?
Maybe it’s who gets the most screen time. Maybe your brain says, ‘yep, that’s the hero’. Because Walter White was horrible, and people still wanted him to win. The surprise is that he was so popular. The phenomenon of the anti-hero, of people identifying with an ethically compromised person, is very curious.
It's really interesting to me to see Odenkirk still poring over this issue and trying to figure it out for himself. If anything, it just further underlines how great Breaking Bad really was — that it stays with you and keeps you thinking even after it's no longer on the air. Even after you've been a part of the series yourself, been behind the scenes and supposedly gotten on with your life, it still manages to worm into your brain and trouble you.
Really, it's a compliment to the entire series while also being an plea to its fans to look a little more closely at the antiheroes we choose to support.