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What’s Walter White’s True Motivation?

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) - Breaking Bad _ Season 5, Episode 12.

As Breaking Bad draws to a close, one of the show's central questions has still not been completely answered: Was Walt doing all this — the meth, the murdering, etc. — for the good of his family, as he's claimed, or was he really doing it for his own misguided sense of pride? There may never be a satisfying answer, since the show's dual father figures Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston don't even agree on what it is. From the megaprofile of Cranston in this week's New Yorker:

In the second season, [Cranston] told Gilligan, "I really think Walt's doing it for his family," and Gilligan replied "No, I think he's actually kind of selfish." Gilligan says, "It dawned on me, slowly, that I was telling the actor he's mistaken about his own character — and that my stupidity was jeopardizing the whole show. You don't have to be Freud to know that Hitler thought of himself as a wonderful guy."

Smiling tightly, Cranston says, "I was able to keep that conversation at bay." The actor can't let himself know things that he knows. And so, for a long time, Cranston has been lying to himself that the monster he carries in his belly is a wonderful dad.

Well, he did buy Wat Jr. that bitchin' car ...

Photo: Ursula Coyote/AMC