During the production of Breaking Bad, Anna Gunn, who played Skyler, received death threats from a fan who was angry with her character.
Despite the show’s conclusion in 2013 and the success of the spin-off Better Call Saul, Skyler remains one of the most disliked characters in television history, and Gunn has had to endure the backlash from fans, even to this day.
One incident occurred when a college girl watched an episode where Skyler forced Walt to return their son’s car. The girl became so upset that she tweeted, ‘Can somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?’
Concerned for her safety, Gunn sought help from law enforcement. The police contacted the girl, who claimed she didn’t realize her actions were threatening.
The 54-year-old actress wrote a lengthy article about the incident for The New York Times. She admitted that she was aware of a possible backlash since the show’s inception because Skyler is Walter White’s antagonist.
“Skyler is, in a sense, his [Walter White’s] antagonist, So from the beginning, I was aware that she might not be the show’s most popular character.”
However, Gunn was shocked at the extreme sexism she experienced due to her character. “The idea of gender roles being so deeply ingrained – it was shocking to me,” she confessed, saying that she was surprised that such comments went unchecked.”
She was surprised that such comments were allowed and felt the need to defend herself for her own sake, daughters, and other women. “I felt compelled to say something, not necessarily for myself, but for my daughters and other women. The vehemence of it, and the fact that it was just allowed.”
Despite the negative attention, Gunn bravely addressed the issue and shed light on the sexism and hatred that female actors face. She noted that the intensity of the backlash and the fact that it was allowed upset her.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2018, Anna Gunn brought up this Breaking Bad issue.
It was a combination of sexism and ideas about gender roles. Then, honestly, it was the brilliance of the show’s construct, People found a hero in Walt, but they wanted so badly to connect with him in such a visceral way that seeing the person who was often his antagonist – so in a sense, the antagonist of the show – they felt like he was right. ‘hindering him.
Vince Gilligan is still Troubled by backlash to Skyler: Anna Gunn didn’t deserve that.
Even the creator of the show, Vince Gilligan, addressed the issue of extreme sexism, particularly towards Skyler White; Gilligan discussed the sexist effect of this incident on Anna Gunn in an interview with The New Yorker.
When the show first aired, Skyler was downright nasty. I think this has always troubled Anna Gunn. And I can tell you that she has constantly upset me because Skyler, the character, has done nothing to deserve it. And Anna certainly did nothing to deserve it. She played the part beautifully.
In hindsight, I realize the show was rigged in the sense that the narrative was only seen through Walt’s eyes, even in scenes he wasn’t there for. Even Gus (Giancarlo Esposito), her bitter enemy, did not suffer from the hatred received from Skyler. It is a strange thing. I’m still thinking about it after all these years.