‘Breaking Bad’ statues shine light on actors, Albuquerque

Jul 29, 2022, 2:39 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2022, 9:25 am

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Bronze statues of mythical methamphetamine cookers Walter White and Jesse Pinkman were installed at a convention center in Albuquerque on Friday to celebrate the “Breaking Bad” TV series and its entertainment legacy, winning applause in a city that played its own gritty supporting role.

Local politicians including Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller mixed with “Breaking Bad” stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and director Vince Gilligan to help unveil the artwork, donated by Gilligan and Sony Pictures.

The 2008-2013 show and its ongoing prequel “Better Call Saul” helped fuel a renaissance in filmmaking across New Mexico, while also cutting close to Albuquerque’s real-life struggles with drug addiction and crime.

Gilligan said he recognized that the statues of “two fictional, infamous meth dealers” won’t be universally cherished in New Mexico.

“In all seriousness, no doubt some folks are going to say, ‘Wow, just what our city needed.’ And I get that,” Gillian said. “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.”

Still a fixture on Netflix, AMC’s “Breaking Bad” follows the fictional underworld trajectory of a high-school science teacher, played by Cranston, and a former student, played by Paul, as they team up to produce and distribute meth amid violent, cliffhanger plot twists.

The show and its iconic lead characters already are lionized on T-shirts and airport merchandise, while tour guides in Albuquerque shepherd fans to former film locations in a replica of the RV from the show that doubled as a meth lab.

New Mexico has long struggled against the toll of addiction, with more than 43,000 deaths linked to alcohol and drug overdoses in the last three decades. Albuquerque also currently contends with a record-setting spate of homicides.

Surging overdose deaths from meth and fentanyl surpassed heroin and prescription opioids as the leading causes of drug overdose deaths across the state in 2020.

Keller heralded the positive economic impact of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” on Albuquerque, acknowledging the dollars and delight it brings to a city he jokingly called “Tamale-wood.”

“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.”

Republican state Rep. Rod Montoya of Farmington said he admires Cranston as an actor but that the statues bring the wrong kind of attention.

“I’m glad New Mexico got the business, but really?” Montoya said. “We’re going down the road of literally glorifying meth makers?”

He also questioned the logic of the tribute after Albuquerque in June 2020 removed a statue of Spanish conqueror Juan de Oñate.

Demonstrators tried to topple that bronze artwork in denunciation of Oñate’s brutal treatment of Native Americans roughly 500 years ago. A fight that broke out at the protest resulted in gunfire that injured one man.

New Mexico politicians, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, have pinned their hopes on the film industry to boost economic opportunity in a state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

New Mexico’s film and TV industry recently hit a new production peak, with record-setting in-state spending of $855 million for the fiscal year ending in June. Recent video projects drawn to the state include the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”

New Mexico offers a rebate of between 25% and 35% of in-state spending for video production that helps filmmakers large and small underwrite their work. Incentive payments crested at $148 million in 2019.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
3 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
3 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
9 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
17 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
17 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...
Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.
(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
‘Breaking Bad’ statues shine light on actors, Albuquerque