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Bob Odenkirk on Better Call Saul, crystal meth and British TV

We speak to Slippin' Jimmy

Bob Odenkirk on Better Call Saul, crystal meth and British TV
24 February 2016

Better Call Saul is back. Better call Bob Odenkirk for an interview, then

In terms of Breaking Bad spin-offs, how pleased were you that they decided to make Better Call Saul and not, say, ‘Gustavo Fring – The Bad Egg Behind The Chicken’ or ‘The Hank Schrader Story'?

Ha! I want to see the Gustavo Fring and the Hank Schrader stories now. I loved the backstory of Mike [Ehrmantraut, the crooked ex-cop] in Season 1, Episode 6. God, it was great. I could watch a whole series of that guy. How pleased was I that I got picked? I approach the whole thing with a wariness and uncertainty that’s grown out of my 30 years of being in showbusiness. I didn’t accept they were going to create a show about me until I saw the billboards.

You could technically do another four seasons before you catch up with Breaking Bad. What happens if you die? Could they replace you or CGI you in?

I think the show’s over. Or they could create a show using all the loose footage of me prepping for a scene and make it about a guy who gets a TV show who dies halfway through.

The Saul you play is six years younger than in Breaking Bad. How have you stopped ageing?

I haven’t. I rely on the make-up department and, occasionally, the CGI people. Especially when I play the younger Jimmy, when he went to jail and when he was with Marco. They actually CGI’d out my crow’s feet. It’s a good question, by the way. We’ll have to see how it goes. Four seasons doesn’t seem quite as far away now.

Fans of Breaking Bad lob pizzas on to Walter White’s actual house in honour of that scene in Season 3, Episode 2…

Yeah. That’s not good. Don’t do that.

Has anyone ever left you a ‘Chicago sunroof’?

Not yet. I don’t have a sunroof, and I will never have one now that you’ve brought that up. No one’s ever left me a Chicago sunroof. Please folks, come on. Better Call Saul is set in the fantasy world. Please don’t make it real.

According to the DVD extras, Breaking Bad was all a dream in the head of Hal from Malcolm In The Middle. Who could be dreaming Better Call Saul?

Don Pratt. Look him up on YouTube. [Fiddles with phone for ages] He’s Don Pratt’s nightmare.

Crystal meth isn’t nearly as big in the UK as the US. Should we try some while we’re over here?

Definitely not. It’s extremely bad for you. It’s pure evil poison that will hurt you.

Recovering drug addicts are shown Breaking Bad at a mental health clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Should they show Better Call Saul at law school?

They not only should, I believe that they kind of do. There’s a book [a special edition of the New Mexico Law Review] about law and Breaking Bad. It’s a bunch of lawyers writing about the legal truths of Breaking Bad. Could you do it? What’s legal, what’s not? I was completely entertained reading it.

How would Saul have got Oscar Pistorius off the hook?

That would have been tricky, huh?

Saul will know a guy, surely?

He kind of did get off, didn’t he? Then he got nailed for the civil suit. That would have been an interesting needle to thread. There’s a lot of money in it. But he would have done the wrong thing. He’d have smuggled him out of the country and tried to hide him as a goat herder in Greece. “Who’s that goat herder with the two fake legs?”

Are you aware of Better Call Saul’s Sixth Sense-style “hot and cold theory”? The good guys are always in blue and the bad guys in red?

Well, I’m colour blind, actually, so it’s all black and white to me.

Are you easy to beat at snooker?

Ha! No. I’m not that colour blind.

Better Call Saul is on Netflix. Do you get a free subscription or do you have to pay $9.99 a month like everybody else?

I believe I pay $9.99 and it’s well worth it. I’ve done a show on Netflix called With Bob And David, too. You should check that out.

In an interview with Yahoo! you picked Ricky Gervais in The Office and Ricky Tomlinson in The Royle Family as your favourite ever TV performances. What do you like so much about British comedies?

There’s an absurdity to it that’s silly but intelligent. British comedy mixes absurdity and intelligence in just the right formula. Americans are a little more ham-handed. Their silliness is a little too desperate, their absurdity is a little too thin and unmoored and their intelligence is low. I’m an American so I’m talking about myself as I say that.

How would Better Call Saul differ if it were set in the UK?

I think Saul would get punched more often.

All episodes of Better Call Saul are available on Netflix now

(Images: Netflix)