‘Better Call Saul’ Star Bob Odenkirk Says CPR on Set Saved His Life

by Suzanne Halliburton

Bob Odenkirk very nearly died last summer while filming the final season of Better Call Saul. And as he watches those episodes now, he’s reliving all the heart attack moments and details.

In interviews this week, he talked about how he needed CPR on set to save his life. And if he’d been by himself, and not with his fellow cast mates from Better Call Saul, he’d likely be dead.

Odenkirk, who plays shady lawyer Saul Goodman in the Breaking Bad prequel, provided details in an interview with Radio Times. Here’s what happened. Odenkirk and the rest of the cast and crew were on location in Albuquerque, N.M. He said the crew was changing scenes. It was about 5:30 p.m. on July 21. And he jumped on an exercise bike to watch a Chicago Cubs baseball game on TV. That’s when he suffered the heart attack.

“I went down on one knee,” Odenkirk told Radio Times. “And then I went all the way down. I guess I said, ‘I don’t feel very good.'” That was an understatement. He said the next thing he remembered was seeing and hearing co-stars Rhea Seehorn (Kim Wexler) and Patrick Fabian (Howard Hamlin). They grabbed his hand and cradled his head. And he said they “started yelling at me to stay on Earth.”

He added: “I wasn’t breathing. I mean, if nobody had been there, if they didn’t do that CPR, I’d have been dead in a few minutes.” CPR included three shots from the defibrillator. At the hospital, doctors performed emergency surgery to clear out his main cardiac artery. These kinds of heart attacks are called a “widowmaker.” The attack cuts off oxygen to the heart and can trigger an abnormal rhythm. The result is cardiac arrest that happens within minutes.

Bob Odenkirk poses with cast and crew of Better Call Saul earlier this year. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Odenkirk Said Heart Attack Happened During Better Call Saul 8th Episode

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Odenkirk said he’d just finished filming a scene for episode eight of the final season. That was “Point and Shoot.” Five weeks later, Odenkirk returned to the set to finish the final episodes of Better Call Saul. First on the agenda was filming “Fun and Games.” Then, they circled back to finish the scene that was interrupted by his near death.

“But if you’re looking to compare a human being pre- and post- heart attack,” Odenkirk told EW. “You’ll want to look at the scene with Kim and Jimmy, when Lalo was talking to them about the plan.” That episode first ran July 11.

And now, there’s one episode remaining for Better Call Saul. In this week’s episode, Carol Burnett’s Marion figured out that the man she knew as Gene really was Saul Goodman. Gene/Saul yanked the telephone cord out of the wall and looked as if he’d kill Marion. But Marion hit her Life Alert button and turned in Gene.

Next week’s episode is “Saul Gone.” Conversely, because of some smart cast members, Odenkirk never left.