Q&A – Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman)

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Veteran comedian and writer Bob Odenkirk describes a frightening visit to a box factory and predicts what Saul Goodman would have to say about his stand-up routine.

Q: Saul ended last season trying to get as far away from Walter White as possible. Do you think Saul is still planning his escape?

A: Yes. Anxiously looking for some “out.” Walt has surprised everyone with how ruthless he can be, and I think if Saul didn’t think Walt was such a brutal, intelligent, dangerous person then he would find an easy way out. Of course, Saul got into business with Walter because Walter seemed smart — which is why he’s ultra-scary.

Q: Saul has a hard time trying to sell Walt, Jesse and Mike on the various cook sites. Have you ever had to make a sell of any kind in front of such a tough crowd?

A: I suppose I have — I’ve been in front of audiences that didn’t want to hear me tell another joke. First you start to sweat, second you sweat more… but I don’t think Saul wants Walt to see him sweating. Saul is biting his tongue and trying to be cool. He can’t help himself from making jokes; he’s a cynic so he can’t help saying sarcastic things. Even though he’s under intense pressure, the wisecracks keep coming.

Q: The first place Saul takes the gang to in Episode 3 is a box factory. What was it like there?

A: That’s in a real box factory in Albuquerque. It was massive and a little scary. There are big pieces of equipment that chop cardboard up, crimp it and package it and I suppose could do grave damage if you got in the way of the machinery.

Q: Is there a particular way you play a character that is so earnest despite all his BS?

A: It helps to come from Chicago. That sarcastic, cynical voice is a Midwest trait, I think.

Q: You still do stand-up occasionally. Do you ever work your experiences on Breaking Bad into your stand-up or sketch sets?

A: They’re pretty separate. However, Breaking Bad continues to teach me something that’s true in comedy: total commitment is the key in both arenas. Play it all the way, and don’t hold anything back — that’s the same in comedy. You’re not going to find out anything if you don’t commit.

VIDEO: Better Call Saul – Fighting For You

Q: What do you think Saul would think of one of your stand-up shows?

A: He wouldn’t think anything of it. He’d probably like Howard Stern, but he wouldn’t like improv. “Too much thinking! I have to think about it too much, it’s no fun.” That’s what he’d say.

Q: Throughout your career you’ve played a fair amount of salesmen. Do you have any characters right now that are Saul-esque?

A: Yeah I did a guy who’s pitching a Cirque du Soleil show. He’s supposed to have it all worked out, but he doesn’t have any of it worked out. So he makes up a show in front of a bunch of people and he’s just clearly pulling stuff out of his ass.

Q: Saul’s henchmen Bill Burr (Kuby) and Lavell Crawford (Huell) are also in comedy. How much of a comedian’s paradise is it when they show up on set?

A: It is a great, great pleasure because they’re both funny as can be. We all look at each other on set like we snuck into the parents’ table and somebody’s going to catch us and throw us out if they find out we’re there.

Q: It seems like the Breaking Bad audience gets bigger by the day. Are you getting recognized more?

A: Definitely. I get called out as Saul Goodman all the time. I even get recognized for my voice. People don’t even see me — they hear me talking and turn around and go, “Saul Goodman?” So I have to disguise my voice to not be recognized. But it’s fun, the fans are really nice.

Click here to read an interview with Lavell Crawford, who plays Saul’s bodyguard Huell.

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