THE WRITER OF OZYMANDIAS, MOIRA WALLEY-BECKETТHow did you end up working on Breaking Bad?
I came on board in Season 2. I was obsessed with the show after watching it in Season One. I was working on another show at the time and the writer’s strike hit and suddenly I had all this time on the picket line and I just couldn’t stop thinking about Breaking Bad.
So I wrote a spec script and my agent was like, “Don’t fucking do that. That’s ridiculous. You can’t write a spec script on a show you actually want to work on. You have to write a spec script of some other cable show and then I can get it to Vince Gilligan’s producers.
But I can get kind of crazy obsessive like that and I just had the need to write it. I had the characters voices stuck in my head.
On the very day I was being offered a job on a network show my agent got me a meeting with Melissa Bernstein, one of the producers on Breaking Bad, basically just to shut me up. I went in and met her and I mentioned that I’d written a spec and she was like, “Really?” She was completely shocked and said that Vince would be so thrilled to know that someone loved the show enough to write a spec.
I felt like a goofy fan girl (which I was) and when she asked me “What’s it about?” I just sort of pitched it out.
I guess she liked the pitch because she was like, “Wow. Can I read it?” and I said, “I’m pretty sure there’s like six reasons why not.” And she looks me in the eye and says, “Can I read it?”. It was a Vegas moment. A gamble.
At this point I’m getting offered another job that afternoon and I haven’t finished Act 4 of the Breaking Bad spec. I told her she could read it and I’d get it to her the next morning.
So, I went to the job interview. They offered me the job. I went home. I finished Act 4 that night. I sent it to my agent the next morning, a Friday. He read it. He sent it to Melissa. Melissa read it. She sent it to Vince.
Come Monday, I’m sitting by the phone thinking, “What’s going to happen in my life?” And the other show is going, “Okay, we made the offer when are you going to counter? What’s happening?” and we’re like, “Just a second.” I didn’t hear anything all day. It was the world’s longest day, let me tell you.
Finally, at 4 o’clock that Monday afternoon I get a call. “Vince Gilligan wants to meet you.”
So I jumped in my car and raced across town and… it was kismet. He uttered the best sentence ever to me. With his sweet Virginia accent, he says, “I don’t know how you did that. I don’t know how you knew the characters so well, but my intention is to offer you a job — I just don’t know if I have a job to offer.” And I was like, “I’ll TAKE IT!” and he’s like, “Wait, wait, wait you better talk to your agent. Because we don’t even have a pickup and I don’t know what’s going to happen.”And I was like, “I’ll TAKE IT!”
So I turned down the other job and I waited. I waited for over 6 weeks to hear if there was even going to be any more Breaking Bad at all.
Finally, they got picked up for Season Two and I’ve been on the show ever since.
Fun factoid: Creator Vince Gilligan got his start in television with the series The X-Files, which featured a character The Smoking Man (William B. Davis). The title of episode 1x04, “Cancer Man,” was also the disparaging nickname that Fox Mulder had given to the Cigarette-Smoking Man on that series. Bonus fact: Morley’s are a fictional brand of cigarette seen in many films and TV shows — they’ve been puffed on by such icons as Jack Bauer in 24, Spike in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Chandler in Friends. But most famously, they are the poison of choice for Cigarette-Smoking Man. A Morley cig is glimpsed in Breaking Bad’s pilot, being flicked out of the RV window by thug Emilio.
– from The Five Best X-Files In-Jokes In Breaking Bad
Observations: "Jesse drops by Walt’s place, when the ballbuster is out, for a quick debrief. Saksida from the Breaking Bad Reddit found a great thematic/visual similarity between this scene and Walt visiting Jesse in ‘Gliding Over All’: Despite what it looks like, in both cases they’ve come to give other partner their share. Walt looks through the peephole, Jesse through the window…Walt asks Jesse to leave while in 5x08 Jesse brings up an excuse to make him leave, etc. It’s amazing how they switched roles. (Also notice how Walt warns Jesse not to come back again, like how Jesse tells him the same in ‘Bug’.)”
Observations: “The attempt to contextualize Jesse isn’t as interesting as the portrait of his parents; how many upwardly-mobile suburbanites have had to resort to applying some kind of agreed-upon strategy to deal with their druggie children? Watching Jesse at the kitchen table getting dressed down by his folks was less a filling-in of his backstory than a facet of this episode’s theme: the humiliation of having your life plans and self-image obliterated by other people who know what’s best for you.” – Donna Bowman’s review of 1x04