When Breaking Bad debuted on AMC back in 2008, creator Vince Gilligan wondered whether viewers would have too hard of a time liking main character Walter White, who descends from mild mannered high school chemistry teacher to murderous meth dealing drug kingpin. That turned out to not be a problem.
Instead, fans of the show turned on Walt’s wife Skyler, played by Anna Gunn. Skyler may have been the voice of reason, but for many Walter is the hero of the show. And in what was then a fairly new trend, Gunn got a ton of real life hate for her on screen performance. Gunn said fans of the show often took their frustrations about Skyler out on her in real life, and it was difficult for her to deal with.
“It shook me,” Anna admitted in a feature from Entertainment Weekly. “As an actor, my job is not to always play characters who make everybody happy. That’s not interesting. In fact, characters that are more difficult in a way are more interesting. But when you are on a show that has become that big and people are identifying you so much with somebody that they dislike, you can’t help but feel like you get folded into it.”
One of the things that stood out for Gunn was the casual vitriol from even the show’s biggest fans, as exhibited during the many convention Q&As the cast used to take part in over the years.
“It was fairly early on that a guy stood up and said, ‘Why is your character such a bitch?'” she recalled. “He was so clearly firmly with Walt, and thought Skyler was just this awful, nagging person. That was one of the first moments where it came right to me and it was shocking. I think we were all kind of shocked.”