The Sydney Writers' Festival unveiled its main event when Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan spoke in front of a packed audience at the Sydney Town Hall on Thursday night.
Gilligan gave fans of the hit TV series an insight into the conception and making of the series about mild-mannered science teacher Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) transformation into a meth manufacturer and drug kingpin.
The show became the highest-rating television series in history, according to Guinness World Records, with Australia leading the field in illegal downloads.
In case you weren't one of the lucky 4000 people who attended Thursday's two sold-out sessions, here are things the audience learnt:
1. Breaking Bad was inspired by a real event
Gilligan says he first got the idea after reading a newspaper article about a meth lab in Brooklyn that had made a group of children sick. He mentioned it to a screenwriter friend who joked, "That's what we should do for money - make a meth lab in a Winnebago".
Gilligan then had the idea of "a character who was like us - a couple of dorky, dopey middle-aged guys" experiencing a midlife crisis. "It was like a eureka moment," he said.
2. Gilligan is surprised so many people hated Skyler
The writer says he was caught out by the depth of animosity viewers felt towards Walt's wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn). "I didn't see that coming," he said. "To us, she was a really good character ... I think she really and truly did what she did for her family ... I never saw her character as a bitch ... I saw her as someone who was kind of a tragic figure."
3. Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) had a possible background as a torturer in Pinochet's Chile
Gus' origin and identity was kept vague on purpose, Gilligan says. But writers did know he was from Chile. "We figured his background had something to do with the Pinochet government ... he may have helped Pinochet as a state torturer."
4. The scene in which Gus emerges from the nursing home explosion with half a face took 19 takes to film
And "we used the 19th take", Gilligan said. "We wouldn't make him fall down 19 times only to use the first one."
5. Walter first sold his soul when he refused an offer of help from the Schwartzes
Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz (Jessica Hecht and Adam Godley) offer to pay for Walt's treatment and give him a job when they learn he has lung cancer at a party. But instead of doing the best thing for his family, which would have been to accept the offer, "because of injured pride Walter chooses instead to go back and cook meth with Jesse. That is kind of unforgivable."
6. Jesse (Aaron Paul) almost took revenge on Walter by getting Walter Junior (RJ Mitte) hooked on meth
One idea that never made it into the series was for Jesse to get back at Walt through his son, Walt Junior. "When Jesse was very much on the out with Walt, we wanted him to get revenge by seeking Walter Junior and getting him hooked on meth," Gilligan said.
7. Gilligan would like to see a Breaking Bad video game
Gilligan discussed the idea of turning Breaking Bad into a video game in which players drive around in a Winnebago. "I pitched that," he said. "That would be fun. I would love to see that happen."
The spinoff series, Better Call Saul, based on Breaking Bad lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), begins shooting in the US on June 2. It will be directed by Gilligan.
i was at this event :DDDDD