'Breaking Bad' Stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul Attend Debut of Character Statues

Walter White and Jesse Pinkman statues now live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the show was shot and set

Bryan Cranston (L) and actor Aaron Paul pose with bronze statues depicting television characters Walter White, played by Cranston, and Jesse Pinkman, played by Paul, from the series "Breaking Bad" at the Albuquerque Convention Center on July 29, 2022 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Photo: Sam Wasson/Getty

It looks like Heisenberg will be looming large over his hometown for years to come.

The lead characters of the hit TV series Breaking Bad have been immortalized in bronze, and a statue depicting the two of them was unveiled Saturday.

Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, methamphetamine cooks and drug dealers may be an unconventional choice for a statue, but they're calling a convention center in Albuquerque home as of Friday.

Breaking Bad, which was both set in the New Mexico city and shot there, has been the source of major revenue for the state. And stars Bryan Cranson and Aaron Paul, along with creator Vince Gilligan, attended the unveiling.

Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul
Cindy Ord/Getty; Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic

The hit show and its prequel Better Call Saul have also contributed to a renaissance for New Mexico's film industry, but highlighting the region's real-life issues with addiction and crime has naturally made some people question the benefits.

Gilligan said he understood that the statues of "two fictional, infamous meth dealers" won't be welcomed by everyone in New Mexico, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"In all seriousness, no doubt some folks are going to say, 'Wow, just what our city needed.' And I get that," Gillian said Friday reported THR. "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."

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Breaking Bad, tells the story of a fictional high school science teacher (Cranston) using his chemistry skills to cook meth, and his former student (Paul) to help him distribute it.

The show has prompted a spinoff, Better Call Saul, and a film prequel, El Camino, as well as an array of t-shirts and other merchandise — even local tours of film locations. This level of success has greatly boosted the local economy and enticed other shows such as Stranger Things to shoot there.

Local politicians like Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller were also present for the art's reveal, which was donated by Gilligan and Sony Pictures.

Mayor Keller said the positive economic impact of the shows could well turn his city into what he called "Tamale-wood," a pun on its small slice of the Hollywood pie.

"While the stories might be fictional… jobs are real every single day," Keller said, according to THR. "The city is also a character," he added. "We see ourselves in so many ways, good and bad."

Aaron Paul (L) and Bryan Cranston
Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston at the premiere of El Camino. Kevin Winter/Getty

More than 43,000 deaths in New Mexico have been linked to alcohol and drug overdose in the past 30 years, THR stated. As, statistically, meth and fentanyl are the leading causes of drug overdose deaths, politicians such as Republican state representative Rod Montoya are naturally worried the statue sends the wrong message.

"I'm glad New Mexico got the business, but really?" Montoya told THR. "We're going down the road of literally glorifying meth makers?"

AMC has recently confirmed that Walter White and Jesse Pinkman will appear in the sixth and final season of Better Call Saul.

"They're coming back," AMC posted on Twitter with an image of the pair. In the show, they are bitter enemies as well as partners in crime, but in real life, the two are best friends who even run a business together.

Paul revived his role as Jesse in Netflix's 2019 film spin-off El Camino, which took place immediately after the events of the Breaking Bad finale, which aired in 2013.

Cranston has expressed that he would play Walt again "in a second," telling Collider that he's told Gould and Better Call Saul co-creator Vince Gilligan (who also created Breaking Bad) that he's interested in appearing in the prequel series.

"I would be in it if Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, who are co-executive producers on it, wanted me to be in it. I would do it in a second," Cranston said in 2020.

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