Breaking Bad Could Have Ended a Lot Differently

Ursula Coyote, AMC
Ursula Coyote, AMC

It was 10 years ago this month that audiences were introduced to Walter White—a loving husband, doting dad, and brilliant scientist-turned-high school chemistry teacher who, upon learning that he has lung cancer, begins moonlighting as a drug kingpin so that he can leave this world knowing that his family won’t be left struggling in the wake of his death. Breaking Bad is regularly cited as one of the greatest television shows in the history of the medium, and with good reason. Unlike so many other successful shows, it only improved with each new season, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats until the final moments of the series finale. But it turns out that the show’s final ending wasn’t the only conclusion the series’ creators considered.

To celebrate Breaking Bad’s 10th anniversary, creator Vince Gilligan and a half-dozen of the series’ key writers—including Peter Gould, Moira Walley-Beckett, Thomas Schnauz, Gennifer Hutchison, Sam Catlin, and George Mastras—sat down with Variety to share some behind-the-scenes tidbits about the challenges of not just creating one of the most intense, creative, and celebrated series of all time, but the issues they faced in wrapping it up, too. And it seems that life could have turned out much differently for Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and many of the other morally challenged characters audiences came to know and love.

When asked at what point they knew what the fate of each character would be, Gilligan said that it was “late in the game. We went through every possible permutation.” While the writers all concurred that the only logical ending would include Walter’s death, Gilligan admitted that they toyed around with avoiding the inevitable:

“There was a hive mind with these wonderful writers, where I don’t remember who said what, and it doesn’t even matter whose idea was whose. But I remember one afternoon, somebody said—and I was kind of into it for a while—'Wouldn’t it be really ironic if Walt is the only one to survive this?' Because it does seem so obvious that Walt should expire at the end of the final episode—but maybe he’s the only one left alive. Maybe he still does have a death sentence, but we go out on him alive, and maybe his whole family’s been wiped out. That would have been really f***ing dark.”

They ultimately agreed that Walter's demise was the only possible conclusion, but exactly how that happened was another matter—one that was brainstormed quite a bit.

While fans of the show undoubtedly remember White’s final moments, surrounded (fittingly) by the tools of his drug-making trade, Catlin said, “There was debate about that, and there was one pitch that he would die ignominiously on a gurney in a hospital, sort of pushed aside as a John Doe while life continued without him. I think the thinking behind that was, so much of what he chased was a sense of status and a sense of importance. It would have been more grim for him to be just tossed aside and overlooked at the end.”

Schnauz and Gould revealed another possible outcome. “There was the other pitch where he had been shot,” Schnauz said, “and crawled into a restaurant, sort of a Blood Simple-esque scene, ending up underneath …”

“… a Pollos Hermanos table,” Gould finished.

Gilligan said that he was, and continues to be, surprised by how beloved Walter was as a character, despite the fact that he did very bad things.

“I run into more people who were sorry he died at the end,” Gilligan said. “This whole thing about ‘Geez, is he really dead or not?’”

Though Walter may be gone, he’s certainly not forgotten. And we can always hold out hope that we’ll have a chance to see him once again on Better Call Saul.

[h/t: Variety]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Facts About Steve Martin On His 75th Birthday

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. To celebrate his birthday (he turns 75 today), here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

1. Steve Martin was a cheerleader.

As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Steve Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

2. Steve Martin's first job was at Disneyland.

Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just 2 miles away from his home. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

3. Steve Martin owes his writing job with the Smothers Brothers to an ex-girlfriend.

Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with late Bob Einstein—Albert Brooks's brother, who is better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Curb Your Enthusiasm's Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

4. Steve Martin was a contestant on The Dating Game.

While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

5. Many people thought Steve Martin was a series regular on Saturday Night Live.

Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. Though at the moment, he holds the second highest record for number of guest hosting gigs on the show with 15. (Only Alec Baldwin has more, with 17.)

6. Steve Martin's father wrote a review of his son's first SNL appearance.

Steve Martin hosts a 1986 episode of Saturday Night Live.Yvonne Hemsey/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. Martin's dad also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

7. Steve Martin popularized the air quote.

If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

8. Steve Martin quit stand-up comedy in the early 1980s.

Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

9. Steve Martin is a major art collector.

As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

10. Steve Martin is an accomplished bluegrass performer.

Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Martin is an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

This story has been updated for 2020.