On Sunday night, Breaking Bad fans will finally see the spinoff they've been waiting for. Bob Odenkirk, who brought Saul Goodman to life on the AMC show, will star in the new series Better Call Saul. It takes place approximately six years before the events of Walter White and co., though Odenkirk would be the first person to say you don't need to have seen Breaking Bad to understand and appreciate the new spinoff. We spoke with Odenkirk Thursday night before the 92Y's panel with the show's cast. Ahead, how he relates to Saul, the way Saturday Night Live has evolved over the years, and why Girls doesn't get enough credit.
You're a successful man. What's it like playing someone like Saul who's pretty much a failure?
"It's very easy to play because it's who I am. Listen, if you're in show business and you're working, then you're successful. That includes dinner theater. That's the bargain I made, which is if I can make a living at this, that's good enough for me. I totally relate to the character striving. I'm a striver as well." The 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live is next weekend. You were a writer for the show in the late '80s and early '90s. (Thanks for creating Matt Foley, by the way.) How has SNL changed since you were in the writers room?
"I've always been kind of in the orbit of Saturday Night Live. My observation is that it seems to have become — and I'm at a distance, but from my distance, it seems to have become — a friendlier place. And yet, it's still a lot of effort and tension. I've changed since I did the show, more than the show's changed. I've gained a lot of respect for how hard that show is to do as well as they do it. When I was there I had a lot of attitude." In a recent interview, Lorne Michaels said he's more forgiving now.
"Good. That's a good thing to become." You've said in the past that you're a fan of Girls. What about the show does it for you?
"I love Girls. The writing is outstanding. The directing is outstanding. I find the characters funny and their youthful feelings of drama and joy true and wonderful to revisit. But, I also gotta say, I think Lena Dunham — nobody escapes their karma on that show. And, I think when it's been criticized, it's been criticized for young women with money and they're just flitting around, and no one gets to live like that. They don't get to live like that! The characters are all suffering and struggling. Sometimes people miss that they pay for their shallowness and their shortcomings. And, that's wonderful. It's great, and it's true. It's a multidimensional show, and sometimes it's not given credit for that. I love it.” Maybe you'll guest star someday?
"Okay." Better Call Saul premieres Sunday February 8 on AMC. Until then, check out the panel with Bob Odenkirk, Michael McKean, and Jonathan Banks, moderated by Variety's Cynthia Littleton.
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