Bob Odenkirk, once a comedy legend, has now made an impressive name for himself in the drama genre as the leading man in “Better Call Saul.”
But the transition from comedy to drama wasn’t as simple as Odenkirk originally thought. Playing a complex, nuanced character like Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill has taught Odenkirk a ton about himself as an actor.
The sixth and final season of “Better Call Saul” aired its first episode on AMC last night, April 18. Leading up to the season premiere, “Better Call Saul” star Bob Odenkirk spoke with The New York Times about struggles he’s faced while filming the show.
For one thing, he mentioned how he decided to start rooming with co-stars Rhea Seehorn and Patrick Fabian. Living alone during filming exponentially increased Odenkirk’s loneliness. At first, he honed that loneliness for filming as Saul or Jimmy. But it started to weigh on him by the time Season 6 rolled around. And now that filming’s over, Odenkirk’s all too ready to put the character to rest.
“It gave me great sympathy for someone like James Gandolfini, who talked about how he couldn’t wait to be done with that character,” Odenkirk told The New York Times. “And I think Bryan [Cranston] said similar things: ‘I can’t wait to leave this guy behind.’ I finally related to that attitude.”
Cranston starred as Walter White in the flagship “Breaking Bad” show. He’s scheduled to make a cameo appearance in “Better Call Saul” with Aaron Paul later this season. “Breaking Bad” was Odenkirk’s first time in the role of Saul Goodman, leading into his own spinoff series.
And with that spinoff series came the channeling of deeper, darker emotions that Odenkirk had never had to confront before.
‘Better Call Saul’ Star Bob Odenkirk Discusses Emotion of Filming Show
“The truth is that you use your emotions, and you use your memories, you use your hurt feelings and losses, and you manipulate them, dig into them, dwell on them,” Bob Odenkirk explained. “A normal adult doesn’t walk around doing that. Going: ‘What was the worst feeling of abandonment I’ve had in my life? Let me just gaze at that for the next week and a half, because that’s going to fuel me.'”
Seasoned drama actors access these emotions all the time, channeling them into complex roles. Bob Odenkirk gives a stark look at what that actually does to actors, however. Mentally and emotionally.
“If there was one thing that let me do this, it was some access I have to the emotional, even traumatic spaces inside me that maybe isn’t the most healthy person to be,” Odenkirk admitted.
Getting emotional is routine for most stars. But like Odenkirk said, facing those dark emotions hour after hour and day after day can’t be helping him. Luckily, Odenkirk said he plans on taking a break from deep, dramatic work now that “Better Call Saul” has wrapped filming.