Q&A: ‘Breaking Bad’ star reflects on NU memories

Maria LaMagna

Before “Breaking Bad” star Anna Gunn (Communication ’90), struggled with her meth-dealing husband’s secretive double-life on the hit AMC TV series, she was just another theater major at Northwestern. Gunn talked to The Daily about stage fright, high school acting exercise and a new movie.

Daily: How would you describe your undergraduate experience at Northwestern? Gunn: People I met my freshman year in Jones, because that was my dorm, are still my best friends. It was fun, it was busy, it was expanding in every way and really just fantastic teachers and making best friends.

Daily: Do any productions stand out to you? Gunn: I remember how exciting it was that I got cast as a freshman in one of the first big fall musicals, and it was “The 1940’s Radio Hour.” It was really exciting to come to the University from a tiny, tiny high school, so I couldn’t believe the facilities and the stages.

Daily: Any favorite NU memories? Gunn: I think so many of my favorite memories were of freshman year, living in the dorm. I really enjoyed learning about the technical aspects of stagecraft, which I had never gotten to before. My world was so involved in the theater department. Most of my memories are around that.

Daily: How did you originally decide to enter the theater and entertainment industry? Gunn: It was one teacher specifically in high school, and it was my freshman year of high school, and he was teaching this class, and we did an acting exercise. I loved the experience of creating a character and telling a story, and I really was hooked. I remember just basically being in the class and saying, ‘This is what I want to do as my work. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’ It was a really clear choice, and I made it. I decided that was what I was going to study when I went to college, and I just stayed on that path.

Daily: What has been your all-time favorite role to play? Gunn: I really enjoyed playing Isabella in “Measure for Measure.” I was directed by Sir Peter Hall in that. It was a very difficult play and scary. I remember being pretty terrified almost every night before going out there, but I just loved the complexity of it and how many things were revealed to me over the run.

Daily: “Breaking Bad” has received a lot of critical acclaim, especially recently. What is it like to work on a show that is so well-received? Gunn: It’s very satisfying. We’re lucky we have wonderful writers who write great characters and really interesting material. It just feels like the icing on the cake, because I really like going in to work every single day. You can’t ask for more than that in what you choose to do for your work.

Daily: What can you tell us about what is in your future? Gunn: I actually am starting an independent movie that’s going to be shooting in Austin, Texas. And it’s my first lead role in a movie, so I’m very excited.

Daily: What advice can you give to students, at NU or elsewhere, who want to enter the acting world? Gunn: Have a really clear intention of what it is you want to do, and the steps that you need to take to get yourself there. It’s just about being the architect of your own career. [email protected]