Acting is a strange and ephemeral line of work. Put simply, there are no guarantees in show business.
So it was that Anna Gunn in 2013 faced one of those classic and scary crossroads moments that define any performer’s career. A five-year, multiple Emmy-winning run as Skyler White, wife of teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter on “Breaking Bad,” had come to an end, and Gunn needed to find a way forward from the show many consider to be one of the greatest ever produced.
The actress, 47, takes a concrete step toward leaving Skyler behind in the new Wall Street drama “Equity.” She plays investment banker Naomi Bishop, grappling with conflicting forces affecting her personal and professional lives as she strives to take a tech company public.
Gunn spoke with amNewYork about the film, which hits theaters on Friday.
What’s it like to see an experience like “Breaking Bad” come to an end and face what’s next?
As an actor, I think it’s inherent in the profession that you always wonder when you finish one job when and if you’re going to work again. It’s just part and parcel of the business. That being said, it was such a fortunate experience because it was so successful and it opened so many doors for all of us. So going on to other projects, there were certainly much better and richer projects coming in after the series. ... When [“Equity”] came, it was a joy.
I can’t think of another example of a movie about Wall Street that’s a) about women and b) written and directed by women.
In films, it’s still hard for women to headline and to be at the top of the creative process, as well. So it was very exciting to see this particular thing come together, with the producers, a female writer, female director and three very strong female characters. And to have people embrace it and be interested because they want to see this kind of story, and it’s been sadly lacking.
How much did you understand this financial world when you first signed on?
I had some idea of this world in a general sense. My father was a commodities and stock trader. So I had some sense of the world, but not necessarily investment banking. I dove right into research.
Were you concerned about the challenge of humanizing someone working in a world that’s widely scorned these days?
It crossed my mind, but I actually found that the film is investigating a very individual story. So, even though it’s placed on Wall Street and there’s a reason for that, it’s really looking to and examining what women in any profession, in any workplace, the challenges they deal with and the challenges they face.