'Breaking Bad' creator Vince Gilligan: Compelling trumps sympathetic in Season 4

vince-gilligan-breaking-bad.jpgAlas, the T-shirt is not for sale.

"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan wore the shirt you see in the photo to the show's Season 4 premiere Tuesday (June 28). We want one really badly, but the image of Walter White ( Bryan Cranston) in blues and reds over the word "Cook" is just for the people who work on the show.

It's inspired by artist Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster of Barack Obama, and because, as Gilligan puts it, "we kind of liberally borrowed the design," the "Breaking Bad" crew can't market them commercially.

That was about the only disappointing thing we heard from Gilligan in Zap2it's time with him on the red carpet Tuesday. We'll have more from Gilligan closer to the show's July 17 premiere, but his answer to one question in particular caught our ear.

We asked how he and the show's other writers approach the question of staying true the show's rather dark story while at the same time having Walt remain at least a little sympathetic to the audience. Here's what he said:

"That's interesting. It's super important to me that people stay interested in Walt. It's not quite as important to me that people continue to root for him. That may sound kind of like splitting hairs, but this show is something of an experiment in that we're taking our good guy and turning him into a bad guy throughout the course of the series. To that end, if we're going to be truthful to that mandate ... and we're going to be courageous about it, then what we need to do is continue to travel that path regardless of the outcome, regardless of the consequences.

"It seems to me that our fans are not monolithic; they don't think with one group mind. They all have different thresholds of tolerance for Walt's bad behavior. And probably a few folks here and there -- knock on wood, I hope not too many -- but a few have probably tuned out already. They say, 'I can't get behind this guy anymore, I can't root for him.' But other folks hopefully still can root for him, and still others I hope would say, 'You know what? He's kind of a real bastard now, and he threatens to get worse still, but he's still interesting.' All that really matters to me at the end of the day is that he remains interesting, remains an interesting character study. So that's what I'm hoping."

What do you think of Gilligan's remarks? Would you rather see a Walter White who retains some of the goodness he had when we first met him, or are you in favor of the show following his descent even further, wherever that might take him?

We'll get to see the next steps in Walt's journey when "Breaking Bad" begins its fourth season at 10 p.m. ET Sunday, July 17 on AMC.
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