'Breaking Bad' Statues Unveiled in New Mexico With Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in Attendance

Cities usually don't honor meth dealers and criminals with statues, but Albuquerque made an exception for two fictional characters on Friday. Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul joined city officials in the New Mexico city to celebrate the most famous show filmed there. Cranston, Paul, and series creator Vince Gilligan unveiled statues of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in a ceremony.

The statues stand in downtown Albuquerque and were donated by Gilligan and Sony Pictures Television, the studio behind Breaking Bad. They were sculpted by Trever Grove, reports Deadline. Actors Dean Norris, Rhea Seehorn, Michael Mando, and Patrick Fabian also attended. Peter Gould, who co-created the acclaimed prequel series Better Call Saul with Gilligan, was also there.

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(Photo: Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

The idea for the bronze statues came to Gilligan after he saw Grove's tiny wax statue of Walter White. "It was so amazing that it just got me to thinking," the writer-director said. "What if Trevor could sculpt a life-sized version of Walter White in bronze, a medium new to him, and what if he could toss in Jesse Pinkman to boot, and then we donate the two statues to the city of Albuquerque as a thank-you for your hospitality?"

Gilligan also admitted that some Albuquerque residents might find it strange to celebrate fictional drug dealers, especially in a city and state that has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. "In all seriousness, some folks are going to say, 'Wow, just what our city needed.' I get that," Gilligan said. "But let me tell you what I see when I look at these two works of art: I see two of the finest actors America has ever produced. I see them in character as two larger-than-life tragic figures, cautionary tales, world-famous ones at that."

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the statues highlight how Breaking Bad helped revitalize the film industry in New Mexico and bring jobs to the city. "While the stories might be fictional ... jobs are real every single day," Keller said, reports the Associated Press. "The city is also a character... We see ourselves in so many ways, good and bad."

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However, Republican state Rep. Rod Montoya told the AP he wasn't so sure the statues were a good idea. "I'm glad New Mexico got the business, but really?" Montoya said. "We're going down the road of literally glorifying meth makers?" Montoya also pointed out that a statue of Spanish conqueror Juan de Oñate was recently taken down in Albuquerque.

Breaking Bad debuted on AMC in 2008 and starred Cranston as a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a meth dealer after he is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. The show won 13 Emmys, including the Outstanding Drama Series award twice. The show also inspired the acclaimed prequel, Better Call Saul, which wraps up its six-season run with the series finale on Aug. 15. Cranston and Paul will appear in the final three episodes.