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How Anna Gunn's Career Went Downhill After Breaking Bad

Fans of AMC's Breaking Bad know Anna Gunn very well from her role as teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) long-suffering wife, Skyler White. While Skyler was arguably the most hated character on Breaking Bad, few can deny Gunn's sheer skill at playing the part. After all, she has two Emmys to prove the point. 

After Breaking Bad came to an end, many of its stars moved on to new, high-profile projects. Cranston has starred in multiple movies and voice-acted like a boss. Apart from revisiting the role of Jesse Pinkman in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Aaron Paul has played a great many roles, including Caleb Nichols on Westworld, Todd Chavez on BoJack Horseman, and Eddie Lane on The Path. Multiple Breaking Bad luminaries — including Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito — carried their roles over to the excellent Better Call Saul, with Esposito also playing the villain in shows like The Boys and The Mandalorian. Of course, there's also Krysten Ritter, who went from the relatively small role of Jane Margolis to playing the titular character on Marvel and Netflix's Jessica Jones

So, why haven't we seen the demonstrably talented Gunn around as much as some of the other familiar faces from Vince Gilligan's acclaimed show? Let's take a look at How Anna Gunn's career went downhill after Breaking Bad.

Anna Gunn's Gracepoint didn't take off

Anna Gunn was already an established name before Breaking Bad, thanks to a solid acting career that included a high-profile role as Martha Bullock on HBO's esteemed Western series Deadwood. Combined with her success as Skylar White, this means she had little trouble securing a new starring role after the hit series ended. 

Gunn's first major series after Breaking Bad was Fox's Gracepoint, the American remake of the esteemed British ITV crime drama Broadchurch. The original show had a strong female lead in Olivia Colman, who played Detective Ellie Miller alongside David Tennant's Alec Hardy. Tennant returned on Gracepoint as Detective Emmett Carver, while Gunn took over as Miller. 

The critics' consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is that Gunn's performance in the role is "commanding," which is pretty awesome, especially since the role was originally made famous by a future Oscar winner. Sadly, Gracepoint was ultimately unable to replicate Broadchurch's success. With reviews that were lukewarm rather than glowing, the show never proceeded beyond the first season.

Anna Gunn's Wall Street thriller failed to make an impact on the market

The year 2016 marked Gunn's first post-Breaking Bad movie appearance in the Wall Street thriller Equity. She starred as Naomi Bishop, an investment banker who tries to bounce back from a rough patch by supervising the stock market launch of a new privacy company. This attracts the attention of several financial players, and becomes a more complex affair than she anticipated.

Per the Guardian, the movie's core creative team was female, and it's the first financial thriller in which women hold the main positions of power. "I really did like The Wolf of Wall Street," Gunn said. "But not seeing women represented in that world, it definitely had less resonance for me." 

As such, she saw Equity as an important project where female empowerment was front and center, especially in the wake of the nasty fan hate she received from her role as Skyler White. "We really wanted to not only talk about women in Wall Street but women in all positions of life," she said. 

Unfortunately, the numbers weren't on Equity's side. While critics quite liked the movie and Gunn's performance, Equity ultimately grossed just a little under $1.7 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). 

Anna Gunn's character on Shades of Blue was a one-season wonder

In 2017, Gunn joined the cast of Shades of Blue, Adi Hasak's NBC crime drama about corruption within the NYPD. The show stars Jennifer Lopez as Harlee Santos, a single mother and corrupt detective who finds herself working with the FBI to bring down an even bigger fish — her own boss and father figure, lieutenant Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta). 

Gunn entered the show's second season as Julia Ayres, a former detective who has a deep and personal history with Wozniak and his crew. She's become a powerful political player who has her eyes on becoming the Mayor of New York City. Ayres is a Machiavellian, charismatic character, whose rapid rise to power features prominently over the season. Unfortunately, her upward trajectory doesn't last long. Though Ayres is elected as the Mayor, she also falls out with Wozniak, and dies by suicide after he makes threats to expose her various crimes to the public. 

After Shades of Blue, Gunn has only appeared in the Jim Gaffigan comedy Being Frank and HBO's 2019 Deadwood: The Movie. While she does have at least one project in the works — a political satire called Land of Dreams – it appears that she has been interested in theater work as of late. In 2019, she debuted in London's West End, starring in Tennessee Williams' Night of the Iguana opposite Clive Owen.   

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