Better Call Saul Q&A – Julie Ann Emery (Betsy Kettleman)

Julie Ann Emery, who plays Betsy Kettleman on AMC's Better Call Saul, reveals Betsy's connection to Breaking Bad and shares an embarrassing story from her first day on set.

Q: You weren't able to reveal you had a role in Better Call Saul until this past November. How hard was it to keep the news to yourself?

A: It was awful! [Laughs] I was such a Breaking Bad fan, so when you're an actor and people ask what you're working on, you want to be able to talk about something insanely cool like that. I flew back and forth to Albuquerque for the entire summer, and I wanted to shout it to the world that I was working with these brilliant people.

Q: Who was the hardest person to keep it from?

A: My family, because they're really invested in what I do and there’s no one else in my family who's in the business. They’re always happy I'm working, but they want info. Now they're all Better Call Saul fans, though. My husband loves the Better Call Saul Story Sync.

Q: The Kettlemans were originally only going to appear in one episode. When and how did you learn they'd have a bigger role?

A: Vince Gilligan directed the first episode, and pretty immediately after we directed the big scene in the diner, there was a desire for a lot more -- which is a great and very humbling compliment from this group of filmmakers, for sure. We took our time, and were able to explore the characters and who they could be.

Q: Betsy obviously wears the proverbial pants in the Kettleman family. How did you and Jeremy Shamos (Craig Kettleman) go about developing your characters' domineering wife/henpecked husband dynamic?

A: [Laughs] Well, Vince came in when we were shooting our first scene and said, "I don't think Craig knew how to put on his socks before he met Betsy." It's such a hilarious way to put it and we were heading in that direction, but that really blew it up for us in such a positive way. Jeremy is a wonderful theater actor, and he and I spent a lot of time together improvising and rehearsing the script -- the whole finishing each other's sentences thing came partially out of improvisation. We also swapped a lot of internet video with each other about couples, or we'd go out to eat, or we'd go grocery shopping. It was an interesting process.

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Q: Do you have any common ground with Betsy? For example, are you the campfire-singing type?

A: I am, actually, the campfire-singing type. They didn't know that when they cast me. My husband and I have hiked the Grand Canyon twice, and our favorite vacations always involve camping. We are very outdoorsy, so when it took that turn, I was like, "Have they've been looking at my Instagram account?"

Q: Speaking of your Instagram, you posted a photo of an injury you suffered on the first day of shooting. Care to share the story?

A: OK... it's so embarrassing! [Laughs] My very first day on the set, I was so nervous to work with all these brilliant people I've admired for so long. The first scene we shot was when I was getting in my car and Jimmy is setting the trap with the skateboarders. The car is old, so the doors are very heavy, and I opened the car door into my face, right below my lip. I don't stop until they yell "cut," so I kept going. I knew I was bleeding on the inside of my lip, and I was just like, "Crap! They're going to know!" I wasn't going to tell anybody, but they yelled for a medic, and I was so embarrassed. I mean, on my very first scene, I opened a car door on my face!

Q: You and Bob Odenkirk previously worked together in the Fargo TV series. Were you excited to work with him again?

A: I was absolutely thrilled to be working with him again. Bob is such a good human being. He's so talented, and spends the day on set trying to make everything as good as it can possibly be. Those are my favorite kinds of people to work with. The character of Betsy was me going out on a limb a little bit, I haven't really played anyone like her. Bob made that set a very friendly place for me. It was nice to have an encouraging friend there.

Q: Being a Breaking Bad fan, were you excited to film a scene in Loyola's Café?

A: I didn't know that's where we were shooting until I walked in. It was really exciting and quite wonderful. Also, in Episode 107, there's an amazing scene in Loyola's Café as well. So, I have two of my favorite scenes happen there.

Q: Do you have a favorite scene or character from Breaking Bad?

A: I love the Breaking Bad episode where they introduce Saul. The performances are so brilliant, all the way from Bryan Cranston to Betsy Brandt, who my character is named after. No pressure, right? Big moments stand out for me, but the work on it is so crafted that I don't know if I could ever choose. It's a show that doesn’t exist episode-by-episode -- in my brain, it's like an extended film.


Read an interview with Jonathan Banks, who plays Mike Ehrmantraut on AMC's Better Call Saul.