ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Breaking Bad” won 16 Emmy Awards during its television run from 2008 to 2013, but giant bronze statues in New Mexico may top those honors.
The city of Albuquerque paid tribute to its fictional methamphetamine manufacturers on Friday, unveiling statues dedicated to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, Rolling Stone reported. “Breaking Bad” actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, who played White and Pinkman on the series, were at the Albuquerque Convention Center along with series creator Vince Gilligan, according to the magazine.
Local politicians, including Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, attended the unveiling. The statues were commissioned by Sony Pictures Television, according to Rolling Stone.
The series remains a fixture on Netflix. “Breaking Bad” follows the fictional underworld adventures of a high school science teacher (Cranston) and a former student (Paul), as they team up to produce and distribute meth as the show follows violent cliffhanger plot twists, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The show and its current prequel, “Better Call Saul,” helped rejuvenate filmmaking across New Mexico while portraying Albuqueque’s struggles with crime and drug addiction, the website reported. More than 43,000 deaths in the state have been linked to alcohol and drug overdoses over the past three decades, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“No doubt some folks are going to say, ‘Wow, just what our city needed.’ And I get that,” Gilligan said at the ceremony. “I see two of the finest actors America has ever produced. I see them, in character, as two larger-than-life tragic figures, cautionary tales.”
The mayor’s office estimated that the franchise has had a $385 million economic impact on New Mexico, Entertainment Weekly reported.
“While the stories might be fictional … jobs are real every single day,” Keller said. “The city is also a character. We see ourselves in so many ways, good and bad.”
New Mexico offers a rebate of between 25% and 35% of in-state spending for video production, The Associated Press reported. Incentive payments peaked at $148 million in 2019.
“I’ve missed you all so much,” Paul told the crowd, adding that “Breaking Bad” saved his career.
“I auditioned for ‘Breaking Bad,’ and it completely changed my life,” Paul said. “So thank you so much, thank you to Albuquerque -- my God, we were here for seven years on and off. It was such a huge part of my life; it still is.”
State Rep. Rod Montoya said he admired Cranston as an actor but believed the statues bring the wrong kind of attention to the state, according to the AP.
“I’m glad New Mexico got the business, but really?” Montoya said. “We’re going down the road of literally glorifying meth makers?”
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