Magazine article Variety

Bob Odenkirk's Serious Prep for a Serious Role

Magazine article Variety

Bob Odenkirk's Serious Prep for a Serious Role

Article excerpt

It's not easy to get Bob Odenkirk to talk about Bob Odenkirk. "Who even remembers my show?" he asks, before segueing into praise for Amazon's "Catastrophe." He does applaud others on "Better Call Saul": the producers, his co-stars, and the creative team for the way they cut, edit, and shape the drama. "That scene with Jimmy and his father was from season one!" he exclaims, about a moment that aired in the second season. "Did you know that?" Odenkirk, who plays the morally challenged Jimmy McGill on the AMC series, was nominated for an Emmy for the show's first season, and is once again widely considered a front-runner.

How has "Better Call Saul" evolved from its predecessor, "Breaking Bad"?

It's still evolving. I was a character actor, a parttimer really, in "Breaking Bad," and I would fly in, do my part, and leave, and many months would go by between seasons. So we're still getting to know each other a little bit, even after these two whole seasons. As time goes by, I become aware of just how different [the writers'] wheelhouse is from the one that I worked at for so many years - which is sketch comedy - and how much respect I have for the 10,000 hours they put into the writing and creating of a plot. They have these honed senses of what an audience is watching. I think they're out on a limb, too. You can't really find much precedent for what they've done at "Better Call Saul." Obviously we have some similarities to "Breaking Bad," but, actually, most people comment on how different it is from "Breaking Bad."

It's a shift for you, too, as an actor. Have you gotten more comfortable with drama?

The effort of it is fresh, and the challenge of it is fresh, and I approach it without some old reliable tricks. I just really work hard. I don't have any shorthand for what I'm doing here. Sometimes when you're in an endeavor for a long time, you find ways to circumvent just putting in hours and working hard. I don't have that. I cannot do the big scene without a ton of preparation and rehearsal. I don't see any change in that just because I've done two years of it.

How closely do you work with showrunners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould?

I'm approaching it as an actor and not trying to manipulate the story. I'm not trying to affect their choices. I just trust them that this will all work out, and I focus on what I'm doing. That's why when people ask me would I ever write [an episode] or even direct one, the answer is no. No, no, no. I've got enough on my plate trying to deliver it, honestly and in the moment. I like that I just know what Jimmy knows, and that the guys manipulating this world have so many plates spinning, but I'm not aware of them. …

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