From their obsessive rituals (Peppermint Patties! Oatmeal! Bruce Springsteen!) to the parts of their jobs they hate most (killing characters off, dealing with agents), TV's most influential writer-producers featured on The Hollywood Reporter's annual list of the Top 50 Showrunners come clean about the people, things and quirky habits that keep them -- and their shows -- alive.
Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad (AMC)
The show that inspired me to write:
Gilligan: The Twilight Zone because it was so marvelously constructed.
My TV mentor:
Gilligan: Definitely Chris Carter, who created The X Files. He gave me my first job in television and he taught me everything I know about writing and producing television and I use the things that I learned on X Files everyday on Breaking Bad.
My proudest accomplishment this year:
Gilligan: Directing two episodes of Breaking Bad back to back. I was worried whether or not I was going to get through it, physically speaking. I don’t have a lot of energy left these days. That was the closest I’ve come to directing a movie, which is definitely something I’d love to do in the future. Directing two hours of the show back-to-back and crossboarding and block shooting them seemed to me a pretty good dry run for doing a movie when this is all said and done.
My toughest scene to write this year:
Gilligan: It would be a toss up between Gustavo Fring’s death and Mike Ehrmantraut’s death. I wrote the scene with Gustavo Fring getting killed; but I did not write the other scene. So I can’t speak to the difficulty of writing that scene, but I think those two episodes were tough on the writers and on the cast and crew because everyone loves those actors so much and it was a real shame to let them go. Telling them was much tougher than writing the scenes though. Taking both of those gentleman aside and telling them, "Guess what? The end is nigh," that was uncomfortable. Both of them were gentlemen, although Jonathan Banks did threaten to punch me in the heart.