Tony Dalton, who plays Lalo Salamanca on AMC’s Better Call Saul, discusses Lalo’s vengeful plan, playing Lalo’s flirty side and the significance of Werner’s slide rule.
We’ve always known Lalo was dangerous, but he’s covered it with his charm. This season it seems he’s not playing around. How has that changed the way you play him?
I think this time Lalo took it personally. We've never seen Lalo upset before, you know? He kind of didn't take any of this very seriously until they went to his house and killed all his people. So, he's got rage in his mind as opposed to any time we'd seen him before. As for the approach, the approach was the same as always. The character was already there. You just go with what's written. It's a different side of Lalo that we maybe hadn't seen before, but he was always there.
Is it purely vengeance that’s driving Lalo at this point, or is there something else?
I think it's vengeance. You know, they went into his house, they killed Lalo's people, which you can obviously see he's not happy about that. He says it in the first episode… to his uncle, to Tio. … “Screw everybody, screw Bolsa, screw Eladio, I'm going after [Gus] and I'm going to hurt him and I'm going to kill him the way that you taught me.” So yeah, he's pissed.
We haven’t actually seen Lalo in the last few episodes. Do you think he’s been in contact with his family and knows Nacho has been killed or does he even care?
I think he couldn't care less about Nacho. Nacho was just a little soldier. He's after the big guy.
In Episode 5, Lalo turns up in Germany. What drove him there?
He's sort of playing detective. He's kind of a hound dog right now following the clues to where they lead, and that's how he ended up in Germany.
Was it fun for you to play a somewhat romantic, flirty scene with Margarethe, Werner’s widow?
Another thing that you see of Lalo that you hadn't seen before was him talking to Werner's wife, the widow. It was fun but… for me it was a little weird because you've never seen that side of Lalo, turning on the charm towards the ladies. But I hope it worked. I asked Melissa [Bernstein], who directed that episode. She said it looks great. I was worried, because you don't want to overdo it, but they run a tight ship. They would never let you steer off too far to the deep waters without pulling you back.
Better Call stars reflect on what the show means to them:
What was it like working with Melissa Bernstein as a director?
Melissa is one of my favorite people. She is really just amazing. She's so cool to be around. And she did a great job directing. On a personal level, I just think she's great, and I think that professionally she's just amazing. She's a wonderful producer. She's just so easy to get along with. She's so helpful and, as a director, she's amazing. I think she did a great, great job. She knows what she's doing.
There seemed to be an actual spark between Lalo and Margarethe. Do you think any part of that is genuine for Lalo?
No, no, it’s a hundred percent just a game.
It’s obviously a tense moment when Margarethe returns to the house and Lalo is still inside. Obviously, he ends up leaving before faced with the decision, but do you think he definitely would have killed her had he been discovered?
You’d have to ask the writers. As actors it's hard for us to say. I don't know what would happen, but I think that if she would show up, he would kill her. But then again ask [Allison Tatlock] who wrote it. Maybe the writers would say, “No, he would put her to sleep.” It's up to them. I wish I could say to you, “Here's what would happen,” but I can't say that because it would be jumping over the writers who've done such a great job on this show and not giving them credit for creating the stories and the situations where Lalo's around.
So, if Lalo is a detective looking for clues, what does that slide rule signify to Lalo?
I think [Margarethe] says something about Werner, when they're having dinner, about his boys. When he sees the trophy, I think that he sees that the boys are there. So he says, “Ok, maybe I can keep looking this way.” Like I said, he's a hound dog following the clues. That's the way that I interpreted it.
Obviously, this is the final season. What has this Better Call Saul experience meant to you?
It's been great. This career is full of surprises and ups and downs, and you never know where you're going to end up. Ending up in this universe of Breaking Bad, and doing this show Better Call Saul with these wonderful actors, and these great, great, great creators, writers, producers — it's really a blessing. Because you never know. You can end up anywhere and the fact that these guys gave me a chance, and opened the doors and let me kind of play with them is something that I'll be grateful for forever. Every day that I showed up on set, I was grateful and I was happy and it was always special. It was just overall an incredible experience.
Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 9/8c on AMC and AMC+. For more on the final season, read our Q&As with Executive Producer Peter Gould , Bob Odenkirk, who plays Jimmy McGill , Michael Mando, who plays Nacho Varga, and Rhea Seehorn, who plays Kim Wexler.
Better Call stars tease what to expect in the final season: