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The Surprising Connection Between Little Miss Sunshine And Breaking Bad

In 2006, "Little Miss Sunshine" debuted in theaters at the height of a renewed interest in independent dramedies thanks to films like "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "Garden State." Whereas Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums" is ironic and detached, Zach Braff's "Garden State" is heartfelt and sincere. The tone of "Little Miss Sunshine" lands somewhere in between the two, never quite matching the melodramatic highs of "Garden State," but far more earnest in its approach to comedy than Wes Anderson's.

"Little Miss Sunshine" also notably features an all-star cast spanning generations. The film includes performances by Alan Arkin (for which he won an Oscar), Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, and the relatively new Paul Dano. At the movie's center is Abigail Breslin, who was only 10 years old at the time of the film's release.

In a sense, "Breaking Bad" is many things "Little Miss Sunshine" is not. The tone of "Breaking Bad," for example, is largely serious. And while its lead Bryan Cranston was already a well-known name before the series premiere, his co-stars were largely unknown prior to their appearances on the show. It may come as a surprise, then, that "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Breaking Bad" share some notable DNA.

Welcome to Albuquerque

"Little Miss Sunshine" is a road trip movie, chronicling Abigail Breslin's Olive Hoover and her family on a trip to Redondo Beach, California, where she intends to compete in the annual "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant. Their journey begins, however, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Even fans with a passing familiarity likely know that this is also the central location of "Breaking Bad." 

Furthermore, the supporting cast of "Little Miss Sunshine" features two future "Breaking Bad" stars. Bryan Cranston himself appears in "Little Miss Sunshine" as Stan Grossman, who promises to further Olive's father Richard's (Greg Kinnear) motivational speaking career before revealing himself to have been stringing Richard along with empty promises. Dean Norris, meanwhile, portrays a different kind of toxic character as State Trooper McCleary, a police officer who pulls over the Hoover family's van and reveals an affinity for adult magazines.

"Breaking Bad" premiered in 2008, so the Albuquerque of "Little Miss Sunshine" prefigured the Albuquerque of "Breaking Bad." As it turns out, there's no overlap between the casting agents of "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Breaking Bad," so the fact that they share two key actors and a setting is a genuine instance of synchronicity.