Watch: Anna Gunn on playing polarizing Skyler White on ‘Breaking Bad’

Anna Gunn — who plays Sklyer White on “Breaking Bad” — revealed in our recent video chat (watch below) that show creator “Vince [Gilligan] was very definite from the beginning that he wanted Skyler to be a woman with a backbone of steel … and someone who could go toe to toe with Walt [played by Bryan Cranston] … He never wanted her to be this shrinking violet … I didn’t even understand how strong he wanted her to be in the beginning.”

That strong personality has made Skyler one of the most talked about characters on the show. Gunn admits, “we were all aware of Skyler being a very divisive character and one that brought about a lot of discussion as the show went along … she’s the one standing in his [Walt’s] way more than anyone in the show … If you had sympathized with her or been on her side, then the show would have been lost. Because you can’t lose being behind the anti-hero.”

Playing such a lightining rod for reaction took some adjusting: “It was hard at times, it was a bit confusing at first, because it can feel personal when you feel that people are confusing you with the character. It takes a little while to understand …  they feel so strongly or so passionately about the show or the character that they have a very definite way of expressing themselves… As it went on, I grew to … appreciate that the show was so powerful that it was bringing those feelings in people… If it’s bringing about such a powerful debate or such powerful feelings in people I think that’s great, I think it’s a lot better than it being just boring or something that’s not talked about, I think it’s good that it’s sparked people… I learned to embrace it finally.”

Having reaped a supporting actress bid last year, Gunn is poised to return to the race according to our exclusive odds. Indeed, she poises a strong challenge to the frontrunner — defending champ Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”). 

If she is nominated, she will have to submit a single episode and has one in mind where Skyler battles Walt: “That scene in the bedroom was an eleven page scene… it took us all over the map emotionally and it… demanded so much of us… which again an actor loves and waits for.” The scene ends with Skyler telling Walt that she hopes his cancer comes back.

The actress says this scene gave her an opportunity to show her character’s motivations: “That last line she says to Walt … was almost intended originally as more of an attack … but because of the emotional brutality of the scene it came out really more as a desperate cry from her heart, which really showed where she’d been living for such a long time … I think that’s what a lot of people didn’t understand about Skyler was that toughness … was her defence mechanism and her way of dealing with this crazy, insane situation … I remember saying that to Bryan and how horrifying it was, so I’m really proud of that scene.”

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