In 2008, one of the most celebrated TV shows of all time premiered. Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston as a high school science teacher who becomes a ruthless meth dealer, has so far launched two other projects: the sequel movie, El Camino, which follows Walter White’s student-turned-accomplice Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) through the days after the series finale, and Better Call Saul, a prequel series about the origins of Walter’s unscrupulous lawyer, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). But while many Breaking Bad characters have shown up again in the show’s universe, Walter’s wife, Skyler White, played by Anna Gunn, isn’t one of them—yet. The actor received heaps of acclaim, including two Emmy wins, for her performance, yet Skyler herself had a considerable amount of haters. Read on to find out what the actor has been doing since playing the divisive role.
Gunn got her onscreen start in 1992, with an episode of Quantum Leap and a TV movie called Indecency. From that point on, she began showing up in several popular shows, including Seinfeld, NYPD Blue, Chicago Hope, ER, and Six Feet Under, as well as appearing in films, including Enemy of the State, and providing voices for video game characters. Her biggest pre-Breaking Bad role was playing Martha Bullock, the wife of Timothy Olyphant’s Seth, in the critically celebrated HBO series, Deadwood.
After Breaking Bad, Gunn appeared in episodes of The Mindy Project, Criminal Minds, and Prodigal Son. She starred in the American adaptation of the British series Broadchurch, retitled Gracepoint, taking over the role originally played by Olivia Colman. The show only lasted for a season, however. Gunn was a recurring character in Season 2 of the Jennifer Lopez police drama, Shades of Blue, and took on movies including Sully, Being Frank, and The Land of Dreams. Gunn is a theater actor too, and most recently performed in a 2019 West End production of Tennessee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana.
Though she hasn’t reprised Skyler White just yet, Gunn did return to the role of Martha Bullock for the Deadwood movie in 2019, an opportunity that she surely appreciated given that the original run was cut short when the show was canceled.
“The creator, David Milch, wanted Deadwood to be a slow burn,” she told The New York Times in 2014. “And unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to let that story really come to fruition. I was the one character in the show who was quite Victorian and proper and buttoned up. And I never got to say any of those really fun swear words. I was so disappointed!”
The Breaking Bad star has been married once, to Scottish actor Alastair Neil Duncan, from 1990 to 2009. The couple share two daughters, Eila Rose (15) and Emma (21). Gunn keeps her personal life private, including eschewing any social media accounts. But, you can occasionally spot her kids with her at events.
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Gunn has spoken out several times over the years about the gendered hate that Skyler—and by proxy, Gunn herself—received. In 2013, when the show was still on the air, she wrote a piece for The New York Times titled, “I Have a Character Issue.” While playing Skyler had “been one of the most rewarding creative journeys [she’s] embarked on as an actor,” Gunn wrote, she soon realized that the character was “a flash point for many people’s feelings about strong, non-submissive, ill-treated women.” The actor reported that she had received death threats and compared the response to her character to the hate that also targeted characters like Mad Men‘s Betty Draper (January Jones) and The Sopranos’ Carmela (Edie Falco).
In a 2019 interview with the London Evening Standard, Gunn explained that she felt “compelled to say something, not necessarily for [herself], but for [her] daughters and other women.”
“I feel like I came to understand what it was, which was just the undercurrent of extreme sexism. The idea of gender roles being so deeply ingrained—it was shocking to me,” she said. “…The vehemence of it, and the fact that it was just allowed—it was the id gone wild.”
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