Lucky Hank Q&A — Bob Odenkirk on Why We’ll Be Laughing with Hank All Season

From the executive producers of Better Call Saul and The Office comes Lucky Hank, starring Bob Odenkirk and Mireille Enos. Meet Professor Hank Devereaux (Odenkirk), the English department chairman at an underfunded college in a ho-hum town where mediocrity prevails. Life’s been throwing him some curveballs lately with his wife Lily’s (Enos) new career goals, constant chaos at work, and the return of his estranged father. With that, Hank spirals into a midlife meltdown taking everyone with him. In this interview with we speak with Bob Odenkirk about how Hank differs from Saul, what set life was like, and how he disrupts the ‘misery business.’
Q: Right from the start of Episode 1 we’re thrown into what feels like the deep end of Hank’s reality. That initial conflict with Bartow totally reels us in as viewers—what was it that hooked you on this project? Was it reading the first script, the prospect of working with these showrunners, or maybe you were a fan of the source material? 
A: I'm always looking for dynamic changes in my career as I make choices of what to do next, you know? And I really loved so much about the vibe of this show. The pilot script that I read included the characters as you see them pretty much — of course it did change as it was developed — but what I loved was that this character was more my age. He was funny. He made jokes. He wasn't just funny in the way Saul was funny, where you laughed at Saul. He was funny in the way that you laughed with him at the world that he was looking at and ridiculing.
I also liked that he loved his wife. She loved him. He loved his daughter. These are all big differences from Saul. Saul really had no one. The relationship he had with Kim was this partnership where they were both kind of half-in and both kind of half-out. It was a very strange relationship, and I don't think it could be a very rewarding one. So, it was great to choose a character that had these other qualities.
Q: Since this is your first TV role since Better Call Saul ended, had you considered taking a break from TV or were you excited to jump right into something else? 
A: Well, I didn't know we would go this fast! I mean, it is TV and, well, everything in this business takes forever! I read the script before we finished Saul and I said, “I like it and I'd like to do it,” but I assumed it would be, I don't know, a year after we finished Saul that we'd get around to it. So, I was really surprised when a few months after Saul ended, AMC wanted us to make it. I would have liked a break, but it's okay. I got to make this great show, and I consider myself very lucky!
Q: We learn that the catalyst for Hank’s midlife meltdown seems to be the announcement of his father’s retirement, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Hank confronting his issues with his dad. Even though this is a comedy, there are some deep emotional waters to be explored here with Hank and we’re just getting started. Where do we find Hank emotionally at the start of the season? 
A: I think he's been in a holding pattern for a long time, and he hasn't noticed that things are changing around him. His college is having a harder time financially than he's used to it having, or at least thinks of it as having. His dad, who's like this specter in the background of his mind and deep in his soul, is going to retire. His daughter’s been married for like a year now, so she's like really on her own and he hasn't taken that into account. I think his wife is a little tired of some of his behaviors and shenanigans, and he didn't even notice that she's her own person. You know, they're not dead yet! They have this chapter left in their life and they have to ask themselves what do they want to do with it? And if they want to do something else, they have to make a choice now.
Q: Even if Railton is mediocre in Hank’s eyes, it’s definitely full of some very interesting characters. This must have been such a fun set to be on with some great scene partners. Did you get a chance to build friendships with your cast mates before filming started or were these connections made on screen?  
A: Both are true! We absolutely love each other. This is an amazing cast of friends and people who respect and love each other. It’s almost on the level really of, or maybe even more so, than Saul, which is hard to believe! But it's an experienced group mostly. Then there's some young people who are super-happy about the opportunity to show what they’ve got. It's just a great group! I mean, Diedrich Bader, everybody knows he's one of the great character actors of all time. Cedric Yarbrough is a joy. Mireille Enos is so experienced, such a great dramatic actress and she's showing so many lighter sides to her character than she's ever been able to show. And Suzanne Cryer is an amazing pro from both drama and comedy. We just knew to make the most of a great opportunity like this, and everybody did. Everybody knew that this is a special, special chance to mix comedy and drama. Half and half, almost perfectly down the middle, and that's just rare! And it's a challenge — it's a fun challenge. I can't wait for people to see this great cast!
Q: It truly is the epitome of an ensemble cast. In your role as executive producer, were also involved with scripts? How intimate was that process?
A: Yeah, I was very involved in that, more so than Saul, but only a little bit more. They gave me a lot of leeway in Better Call Saul. I didn't use a lot of it, but in this show I got a little more involved. I think what we were trying to do here is pretty tricky and it's kind of an all-hands-on-deck thing to try to find the tone of a show that’s so complex. To try to find that as quickly as you need to when you're starting a new show, you need to get to it immediately, so everybody was contributing. And that goes for Peter Farrelly and all the directors. Everybody was very effective and involved.  
Q: I think a lot of viewers are going to feel an immediate kinship with Hank, especially what he says about “the misery business” in Episode 1. How do you disrupt “the misery business?” What are the little day to day things that bring you joy?  
A: My dog! You know, it's weird, there are so many things that I go to to give myself a break from the challenges of my day to day… and so many of them don't make my life better! I'm thinking about social media. I look at social media and I look at YouTube so much, and it doesn't bring me any real joy. It just brings more stress into the moment. It's really weird how that works! I don't know, shouldn't it be about entertainment on some level and really just make you smile? But for some reason it just makes things worse! Well, I also love my house. I love the weather in L.A. It really makes me happy! I like riding a bike. And I like reading books. I could do without the social media, I think.
Full episodes of Lucky Hank are available to stream on (with a cable provider login), the AMC apps for mobile and devices, and AMC+ subscribers get early access to episodes on Thursdays. AMC+ is available at or through the new AMC+ app available on iPhone, iPad, Android, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku. AMC+ can also be accessed through a variety of providers, including AppleTV, Prime Video Channels, DirectTV, Dish, Roku Channel, Sling, and Xfinity. Sign up for AMC+ now.