'Breaking Bad' actors having tough time letting go

Cast member Bryan Cranston (left) smiles with co-star Aaron Paul at a panel for the television...

Cast member Bryan Cranston (left) smiles with co-star Aaron Paul at a panel for the television series "Breaking Bad" during the AMC portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. July 26, 2013. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:15 PM ET

Breaking Bad? More like Breaking Down.

"I keep talking in present tense," series creator Vince Gilligan said during the Breaking Bad panel at the Television Critics Association tour. "The whole darn thing is over now, which makes me sad."

As Gilligan said that, Betsy Brandt, who plays Marie Schrader, started to cry.

Anna Gunn, who plays Skyler White, teared up herself as she grabbed Brandt's hand.

Aaron Paul, who plays Jesse Pinkman, quit his reflexive squirming - has Paul slowly become his character? - and put his arm around Gunn.

The eight-episode final season of Breaking Bad - or the second half of the final season, depending on how you look at it - kicks off Aug. 11 on AMC. It might be the most critically acclaimed show in the history of television, so understandably the people who make it and star in it are having a tough time letting it go.

Nonetheless, Gilligan insisted he hasn't spent a lot of time pondering Breaking Bad's place in TV history

"I always feel a little guilty when I say this, but while I've spent plenty of time on the Internet looking up useless crap, I don't spend any time on the Internet looking up Breaking Bad, nor myself," Gilligan said. "I never have Googled it, nor me.

"I do that out of a very neurotic sense of self protection. I know that it would be a rabbit hole that I would disappear down.

"But this show wouldn't exist without the fans, and it wouldn't exist without the critics and the journalists and the reporters, the folks who said, 'Watch this thing,' from the get-go. And I'm immensely grateful for anyone who has proselytized for this show since day one."

Breaking Bad has followed the story of lead character Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston. Walter was a high school chemistry teacher whose cancer diagnosis prompted him to "break bad" and begin manufacturing crystal meth, in an effort to provide for his family given his bleak health situation.

From there, the story has taken viewers on a journey deep into the darkness of a man's soul. Walter's transformation has been startling. Both disease and circumstance have brought him close to death many times, yet perversely he has been mentally invigorated by it all.

"I am not being facetious or trying to be funny when I say that this is an honest answer: I can't remember exactly what my original intention was," Gilligan said of the overall story.

"As I pitched it, I used the sort of charming if not trying to be charming, if not overused at this point, glib line of, 'We're going to take Mr. Chips and we're going to turn him into Scarface.'

"We abided by that for six years. But having said that, it leaves a lot of wiggle room. That leaves an awful lot of room for changing up the plot. I can't even remember what my original ending was. I couldn't see that far ahead."

Of course, when Walter White started cooking crystal meth, he wasn't looking that far ahead, either. So perhaps it's fitting.

Either way, we always knew Breaking Bad was going to end in tears.


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