Real-life brothers Daniel (left) and Luis (right) Moncada, who play The Cousins on AMC’s Better Call Saul, talk about their signature boots and the trick to playing such quiet characters.
Q: How’d it feel to get the call to be a part of Better Call Saul?
LM: When Better Call Saul was first picked up, we were always hoping. I was very negative and thought, “There’s no way they could fit us in this story.” So, when we got the call, we were just like…
LM: A big yes!
Q: The Cousins are brothers, and so are you. Are you at all like your characters?
DM: Sometimes, we look at each other and we know what each other is thinking. It’s funny and weird at the same time.
LM: If you look closely, you’ll notice that we’re not really twins and we are different. They made us look alike, especially with the suits. I’m not [personally] a very social guy. Danny is a lot more social than I am. Me? I’m a homebody.
DM: But don’t put the camera in front of him because he’s not going to stop!
LM: [Laughs] Man, I’m a camera-whore and when the camera is on, Danny becomes a little shyer than I am. You probably have to tell me to be quiet.
Q: These characters are incredibly dark and quiet. How do you prepare to play them?
LM: You have to say a lot with your face without overdoing it. It’s a thin line for The Cousins because we don’t want to look robotic. The only thing I did to prepare was watch No Country for Old Men. That dude never talked. He just killed people. It helped me to believe [the role] could be done because when we first got the job, I thought, “What? You want us to not say a word, but still be the most badass motherf—ers?” Vince knew what he was doing, though. Even when I watch Breaking Bad reruns, I think, “Holy sh—t. I am scary!”
DM: When people meet us in person, though, they say we’re like teddy bears.
LM: Yeah. We take pictures with people and when we smile, they say, “Can you give me the ‘Cousins’ look?” You don’t like my Colgate smile?! They want the mean killer look.
Q: How are your characters different in Better Call Saul vs. Breaking Bad, considering how many years earlier Better Call Saul takes place?
LM: We’re not The Cousins on Breaking Bad who wake up and kill people before breakfast yet. We’re younger, we’re still learning and we look up to Tio. We are not as vicious in our ways.
DM: Their ranks are not that high.
Q: What do The Cousins make of Mike?
LM: They know he has a reputation, but he still shouldn’t step in their zone. Yes, Mike is someone they have to respect and not a person that they’re just going to push, but they’re young in their ways and want to impress Tio. They will do whatever it takes and would not think twice about it.
Q: What do the clothes mean to your characters?
LM: I don’t even think people look at our faces. They look at the suits and the boots more than us! If you watch the news or film, you know that the cartel wants to show off their money and who they are. The suits are very expensive because they’re not regular people.
DM: It makes me think of Scarface. It’s their trademark. They dress nice and kill people. Once you put the suit on, you’re ready to go.
LM: As soon as you put it on, you feel different. I think people think we’re weird when we come out in them. We’re more serious, we’re smiling less and we’re seriously thinking people should start looking at us with more respect. [Laughs] I have to catch my character talking in my head and say, “OK relax, Luis.”
Q: Are the boots the same ones from Breaking Bad?
LM: The boots [from Breaking Bad] were donated to the Smithsonian Museum and had to be borrowed so we could get a replica. They look exactly the same and you can’t even tell the difference.
Q: Vince Gilligan seems to have an interest in the relationships between brothers…
LM: Now that I think about it, there have even been [actual] twins that appear on Better Call Saul – the skateboarders. Hey, this could be a good thing for us. I do hope Vince is interested in brothers. [Laughs]
DM: That’s definitely something to think about. When they were filming the first season, I was working in New Mexico and I actually met the skateboarding twins and got to hang out with them.
Q: Daniel, Breaking Bad is your first television credit. How did Luis talk you into doing it?
DM: Throughout filming, he was always barking at me —
LM: Wait! I’m going to cut him off here. There’s more to this. I went to the audition and they mentioned twins. I said, “I have a brother who is not as good looking as me.” Danny was not an actor yet, but the wheels were turning in their heads. We both went back to do some scenes and we got the job. That’s when I started talking in his ear. You know how the Devil talks in your ear? I was like, “You better do this! When they yell ‘action’, you better go kill him! You do this for fun! It’s a walk in the park for you! This is happening! Concentrate!” I even told him if he catches on fire, he should still keep going. It was probably annoying, but I’m sure he was nervous.
DM: I was very nervous, especially on the first day. I had never acted and I didn’t want to mess up. He knew what I was going through and helped me get in character. It worked.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10/9c on AMC. Receive show exclusives by signing up for the Insiders Club.Read More