Bob Odenkirk tells Michele Manelis about the evolution of Saul Goodman and what comes next.
Weekend: Why do you think season four of Better Call Saul is the best yet?
Bob Odenkirk: We were all able to approach it with a confidence that we didn't necessarily have in the previous seasons. The first couple of seasons felt a little unhinged. We were like, 'Can we do this?' And the audience said, 'Yeah, go ahead! Go nuts!' So, now we feel more comfortable and so we have more fun doing it.
There's so much talk about the Breaking Bad reunion. Have you remained in contact with the cast over the years?
We've seen each other at events, that's how I usually stay in touch. Some of them may be closer friends. I've gone to see Bryan [Cranston] on Broadway and I'll see him again when he does Network.
How was it working with the cast again?
When I see these people, I think, 'How lucky am I to be a part of a group of really nice people?' You could have a bunch of jerks or at least a couple of jerks but we didn't have that. We have a lot of good people who are very thankful and supportive to be a part of it. They also happen to be great actors.
Are you intimidated by the ghosts of Breaking Bad?
I'm not at all intimidated by the ghosts of Breaking Bad. In fact, I love the ghosts of Breaking Bad. I'm thrilled to be haunted by those ghosts.
But I imagine you might not be thrilled for Better Call Saul to always be compared with Breaking Bad?
It really is a high watermark for TV, there's no question. And the fact that the show continues to be talked about and watched and impacts people is a testament to Vince Gilligan and the hard work he did. He's a genius. It's amazing that it hasn't faded. But now, I think every drama is compared to Breaking Bad, but they did such a great job with making Better Call Saul, I think it works for most people who watched Breaking Bad, the suspense of it, the human drama, we're hitting on a lot of the same notes of Breaking Bad but not all. It's less violent which some people like although I think we might be getting more violent in these next couple of seasons. So, I hope we don't lose some of those good people who liked our show because it was all the drama and all the humanity of Breaking Bad - but without as many box cutters.
How did you feel when you first got the role of Saul Goodman?
It was strange, it wasn't a popular show. I had a lot of lines to learn and it was really intimidating. I thought maybe they would cut the lines back and shorten it but they didn't change a word. I was like, "Holy crap." But when I started learning the lines I started finding the character because I had to learn them so well since there were so many of them, I couldn't just futz my way through it, like you can often times in comedy.
Comedy from comedy, was it nerve-racking playing such a dramatic role?
I loved it and I didn't feel too intimidated. First of all, I thought, "If they don't like me, they can just fire me and I'll go home and nobody will even know I was here." And secondly, "Who is watching this show? No one!" No one was at the time so I got to practise being a dramatic actor while no one was going to see it.
Do you think that the moral ambiguity Saul relates to the kind of world we're living in?
Yes, there is no question. Everybody is asking, "What's truth anymore? Is truth just the facts I need to say in order to win my argument? Does that make it true?" Saul Goodman is situational ethics, the ethics of the moment. Whatever gets him what he wants - that's how ethical or not unethical he is. And that's what's going on right now.
What's your relationship to the legal world?
Well, I don't know anything at all about law, everything that I say in the show is written by writers who actually do give a shit. And I've sat with lawyers, we have lawyers come into the writer's room and I've spent time in court, just watching how cases play out. I've heard from a lot of lawyers who say we get it right.
What do you like doing away from acting?
I'm writing a memoir so I'm busy with that. That's due and I'm really under the gun on that. And then there's a couple of projects that I'm developing: The story of David Carr, the New York Times journalist, and an animated show that I'm really proud of but that's so far away that talking about it right now is a little weird. I have my own stuff that I want to do. I know that my agent and manager don't send me everything that maybe comes my way, but hey, I already did a Spielberg film - what else is there? I'm done. I'm cooked!
• Season four of Better Call Saul is screening on Lightbox now.