Has any show made better use of vehicles than Breaking Bad? Walt’s blah Aztek, Jesse’s junky Toyota, and Beaver’s eye-melting gold Fiero don’t just get them around — they serve as key clues to their personalities. We caught up with the show’s transportation coordinator, Dennis Milliken. The showbiz veteran got an early transportation gig with Dallas while he was still in college, and he’s since done both films (RoboCop) and TV series (24).
You Are What You Drive
A transportation coordinator oversees all of the production’s cars and trucks, whether they’re on camera or getting everyone to and from the set. But on Breaking Bad — shot on location in New Mexico — it can be especially involved. ”I’ll send [creator Vince Gilligan] dozens of pictures, and eventually we narrow it down to what he thinks the character should be in,” says Milliken. The famously hideous Aztek is perfect for beaten-down Walt, while Jesse ditching his Monte Carlo lowrider for a Tercel wagon matches the character’s maturation in the script.
Sometimes Milliken and his crew find cars through word of mouth or careful research. Other times the job get a little crazier. ”Once I was driving through Albuquerque and all of a sudden I see a car [I had wanted for the show] pass me at a stoplight…. So I U-turned and banzaied down the road, running lights, trying to catch it.” The car — an unusual type of PT Cruiser — did end up getting used on the show.
Season 5 Surprises
What can we expect when Breaking Bad‘s fifth and final season kicks off July 15? (Catch up before the premiere with the season 4 DVDs, in stores June 5.) ”There are changes in the wind,” says Milliken, ”and part of the changes are cars…. The last time you saw the Aztek, which was pretty much synonymous with Walt’s character, it was in a crash. So the question is, Will you see it again?” Add that to the long list of things we can’t wait to find out.