Bob Odenkirk, who plays Jimmy McGill on AMC’s Better Call Saul, discusses why Jimmy isn’t worried about confessing to Chuck, how he’s acting more and more like Saul Goodman, and why it’s harder and harder for “Gene” to stay silent.
Q: Season 3 is one step closer to the world of Breaking Bad. Was the feeling or mood on set any different this year because of that?
A; That is just exciting. Every time we sense it — the Breaking Bad chapter coming on — it’s a thrill. The biggest change, from my point of view, is that there is more dynamics in the show: comedy to drama to dangerous bad guys, all shifting more and faster. I feel like Peter [Gould] and Vince [Gillgan] have found the show more than ever and the writers are having fun.
Q: In Episode 1, we once again check in with our pal “Gene” at Cinnabon. What do you think it says about future Jimmy/Saul that he was willing to rat out the thief to the cops?
A: He is in hell, suffocating, torn, trying to live by the law and muting his instincts and drives all day long. He can’t keep it in forever. But based on the “Saul” experiment that was his experience on Breaking Bad, he knows he has to find a new way to be himself in the world. A fourth persona?
Q: Gene seems to instantly regret being a nark, and he later faints. Do you think keeping up this ruse of hiding out and suppressing his true self is taking a physical toll on him?
A: Yes. The mustache is the outward symptom of his inward pain.
Q: At the end of Season 2, which gets replayed in Episode 1, Jimmy openly confesses to a felony. Do you think he does so out of naivety or arrogance, or is he just unwilling to believe his brother would betray him?
A: He doesn’t want to carry it around, the guilt, and he is worried that his behavior may have pushed Chuck over the edge to madness. But also, in my estimation, Chuck is simply a more committed baddie than Jimmy ever was. Jimmy is willing to declare his guilt just to put it all behind them.
Q: After Chuck says “you will pay,” does Jimmy begin to think differently about what Chuck is capable of?
A: No. He doesn’t know he’s been recorded. He knows he’s done something wrong. Probably some part of him is thinking, “Yeah… I deserve some penance,” and he’s OK with whatever that might be.
Q: The first episode suggests this season is about consequences. Is Jimmy aware of his chickens possibly coming home to roost?
A: He thinks karma will come around eventually — Chuck threatens it, after all — but not so quickly or powerfully. He figures he has time to work the situation, soften things.
Q: How do you think Jimmy actually feels about Chuck and the relationship between the brothers as it stands?
A: [He’s] troubled, as he’s always been. But [he’s] also strangely, unceasingly hopeful that it can all be sorted out.
Q: Jimmy finally has the partnership he wanted with Kim, but things seems strained. Does Jimmy worry about how his actions will affect their personal relationship?
A: He always worries about how she might feel about them. But, in the main, he is enjoying his time with Kim and in big way is hugely thankful that she backed him in the room with Chuck at the end of Season 2. He feels that Kim has his back, with just the details to work out.
Q: In Episode 1, the Air Force Captain confronts Jimmy, and at first, Jimmy can’t seem to talk his way out of his situation…
A: [But] Jimmy does talk his way out! We see Saul rise up in him and push back, and it works! The Captain leaves, bitching but cowed. Jimmy wins by playing offense and manufacturing an argument. Pure Saul!
Q: Where do you personally feel your character is on the “Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman” spectrum as this season begins?
A: Sadly, and happily, he has taken a big step toward becoming the slimy user that is Saul Goodman. It’s hard to feel the character shutting down as an empathetic person, but also a kick to step into gear as Saul.
Read a Q&A with co-creators and executive producers Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.
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