Exterior. Day. The New Mexico desert. Against a crystal-clear blue sky, a grubby pair of pants floats gently toward the camera.
Little did we know those flying pants heralded the arrival of what is arguably the very best, most well-crafted television show in history. Over the five seasons that followed that brilliant opening shot, we have clung onto this dark and dastardly rollercoaster, expertly controlled by Vince Gilligan, with vice-like grip. There have been laughs, tears, gasps, and gut-wrenching sucker punches. We have been entertained and disgusted in equal measure. We have seen bad guys redeemed, good guys fall, and some other guys dissolved in barrels.
Then came the inevitable. On Sunday 29th September 2013, after 61 episodes of crystal-clear blue product, Breaking Bad fans gathered to consume their final hit: Episode 62 – FeLiNa. The team of geniuses behind the addictive show would be cooking up no more adventures for Walt and Jesse. The ride was over.
Though the spectre of withdrawal has descended – just like those grubby pants in the Pilot episode – there is hope beyond repeat Breaking Bad viewings on DVD and Netflix. The beloved cast and creators have not been resting on their laurels. They have taken all of that Breaking Bad love and run with it, straight into their next projects, which now constitute the best rehabilitation programme possible. As audiences wonder where to get their next fix, rest assured – it’s just a case of switching suppliers. The genius is there – you just have to know where to look…
Vince Gilligan (Creator, Writer, Director, Executive Producer)
While Better Call Saul – the Breaking Bad spin-off ‘prequel’ show – moves forward at AMC with producer Peter Gould, Gilligan has also received a series production order from CBS for Battle Creek, for the 2014-15 season. It is the story of two mismatched cops approaching the problem of crime in very different ways. David Shore – creator of House – is attached to the project as writer, Executive Producer and Showrunner, and is currently updating the script, while Breaking Bad’s Mark Johnson is also on board as Executive Producer. The show was first pitched in 2002 to little interest, but now this represents collaboration between the creative forces behind two of the most successful American dramas of the past decade, the TV industry is all ears.
Bryan Cranston (Walter White, Producer, Director)
Unsurprisingly, Bryan Cranston has been incredibly busy with feature films since hanging up Heisenberg’s hat. In addition to a leading role in Cold Comes The Night – a dark thriller also starring Alice Eve – and lending his dulcet tones to Kung Fu Panda 3 – Cranston will carry much of the weight of Godzilla in 2014. Representing Warner Bros’ big hope for summer box office success, the cast includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe and David Strathairn. Arriving in Godzilla’s 60th anniversary year, the movie is directed by Gareth Edwards, who previously delivered Monsters (2010) to critical success.
Anna Gunn (Skyler White)
Pacing herself after the marathon of Breaking Bad, Anna Gunn will next be seen in Rita – a TV movie written by Krista Vernoff (Grey’s Anatomy) and directed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl). The story is the US re-make of the Danish TV series of the same name, and focuses on an outspoken teacher (Gunn), working at a private school. She works hard to raise three teenage children, while wading through workplace politics, bureaucracy, and problematic parents. Currently in production, Rita looks set to further showcase Emmy winner Gunn’s formidable talent.
Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman)
Since Breaking Bad wrapped, Aaron Paul has certainly hit the ground running, with no fewer than four feature films slated for release before the end of 2014. Making wise choices that mix impressive independent projects with big-budget behemoths, Paul is continuing to collaborate with extremely notable names. Hellion – written and directed by Kat Chandler – tells the story of a family struggling in a small Texan refinery town, and co-stars Juliette Lewis. A Long Way Down is an adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel, written for the screen by Jack Thorne (This Is England). It focuses on four people, the connections they forge with each on New Year’s Eve, and how they help each other cope with life’s difficulties. The cast includes Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Pierce Brosnan and Sam Neill. There is great anticipation for the action film Need For Speed, which is directed by former stunt man Scott Waugh, and co-stars Dakota Johnson, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper and Michael Keaton. Paul takes the lead as a wrongly imprisoned street racer, out for revenge. Finally, and perhaps most impressively, Aaron Paul takes the role of Joshua in Ridley Scott’s Old Testament epic, Exodus. Co-starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Sir Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver and John Turturro, this project is scheduled to land in cinemas on 12th December 2014.
Dean Norris (Hank Schrader)
Maximising on the popularity of Hank, Dean Norris was already appearing in Under The Dome on TV when Breaking Bad aired its conclusion. The TV series is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and was created by Brian K Vaughan (Producer of Lost). On the big screen, Norris can currently be seen in Ridley Scott’s The Counsellor, alongside Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, and Javier Bardem. The film is written by Cormac McCarthy and details the plight of a lawyer who is out of his depth with drug traffickers. Norris will welcome spring 2014 with Small Time on the big screen – the first feature to be written and directed by Joel Surnow (24) – which is the story of a used car salesman trying to persuade his son to go to college. His fellow cast members include Christopher Meloni, Bridget Moynahan and Xander Berkeley.
Betsy Brandt (Marie Schrader)
In a complete change of pace, Betsy Brandt has moved from the Schrader household to the Henry household, to play Annie on The Michael J Fox Show. Her character is the wife of Mike Henry (played by Fox), who is a TV anchor returning to work several years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The NBC show was created by Will Gluck (Easy A, Friends With Benefits) and Sam Laybourne (Cougar Town), and is loosely based on Michael J Fox’s own life. It premiered in the US on 26th September 2013, to great reviews.
RJ Mitte (Walt White Jr)
Making interesting choices since his on-screen family unravelled, RJ Mitte is linked to two film projects in pre-production. Firstly, The Jigsaw Puzzle Murders, written and directed by J Nathan Simmons, and secondly, The Devil’s Ink written and directed by Devon Downs and Kenny Gage. Both films are tentatively slated for release in 2014.
Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman)
The muilt-talented, multi-hyphenate has a full slate heading into 2014, racking up writing, acting and producing duties. Odenkirk has a comedy sketch show – The Birthday Boys – heading into production, for which he has written a script, and is also producing. On the acting front, he has several feature films, across a variety of genres, in various stages of production. First up is Boulevard – the story of a devoted husband, locked in a marriage of convenience, who finds himself having to confront his secret life. Directed by Dito Montiel (A Guide To Recognising Your Saints), it co-stars Robin Williams and Kathy Baker. Following that is the animated feature, Hell And Back, in which best friends attempt to rescue their buddy from Hell. The all-star cast includes Mila Kunis, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Coolidge and David Koechner, with Odenkirk voicing The Devil. Moving on to comedy/horror, Odenkirk will appear in Kitchen Sink, a film that promises to pit humans, vampires and zombies against each other, with a cast that includes Joan Cusack, Patton Oswalt and Dennis Leary. Finally, in film, Odenkirk with produce and star in Girlfriend’s Day – a comedy co-starring Amber Tamblyn, in which a romance writer gets caught in a web of lies and murder while trying to recapture the feelings that first inspired him to greatness. Then, of course, in pre-production, there is also the TV series Better Call Saul…
Jonathan Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut)
Having bid farewell to his no-nonsense Breaking Bad alter-ego, Jonathan Banks is changing things up with an interesting mix of film roles. Firstly, Watercolor Postcards, tells the tale of a girl returning home to her small town, and is written, produced and co-stars Conrad Goode. Secondly, Banks will appear alongside fellow Breaking Bad alum Danny Trejo in Bullet – a movie about a cop out for revenge. Lastly, Authors Anonymous (formerly known as Scribble) will detail tensions and rivalries faced by a group of unpublished writers, as they struggle to cope with the overnight success of one of their number. Kaley Cuoco, Chris Klein, Teri Polo and the late Dennis Farina co-star in this independent comedy.
With this many interesting projects now benefitting from the Breaking Bad pedigree, fans of the show have a lot to look forward to in the coming year. Rehabilitation has never looked so rewarding.