If you’re as obsessed with Breaking Bad as we are, you might want to take a tour of New Mexico. From the city of Albuquerque to the arid desert nearby, the region hosts a wealth of Breaking Bad filming locations and is well worth exploring in its own right.
According to series creator Vince Gilligan, it was pure chance that brought Breaking Bad to Albuquerque. Shooting was originally scheduled for California, and only moved to New Mexico to take advantage of tax breaks for filmmakers. That lucky change of setting, however, gave Breaking Bad an extra character – the brooding desert landscape that lends it the flavour of a latter-day Western.
While Breaking Bad’s cameras seldom dwell on recognizable Albuquerque landmarks, eagle-eyed devotees have mapped out real-life locations including the fast-food restaurant that became Los Pollos Hermanos, and the originals of Walter White’s house, Saul Goodman’s law office, and the retirement home where Gus Fring meets his explosive end. Stop-offs on Breaking Bad bus tours enable visitors to buy plastic bags of bright-blue candy, or Bathing Bad bath salts, that look remarkably like Heisenberg’s trademark blue meth.
Beyond such specific locations, though, lies the fact that New Mexico itself is imbued with an awe-inspiring sense of infinite space, and infinite possibilities. Much like Walter White, a humdrum high-school chemistry teacher who escapes his ordinary life to become crystal-meth kingpin Heisenberg, Albuquerque is a normal city perched on the edge of a primeval wilderness. To venture into the bleak no-man’s-land where they conduct their business, all White and sorcerer’s apprentice Jesse Pinkman have to do is keep on driving when the tarmac runs out. Search on Google Earth for ABQ Studios, for example, where Breaking Bad is based, switch to Street View and face in the opposite direction, and there it is: the boundless desert, stretching away to the horizon.