Lavell Crawford, who plays Huell on AMC’s Better Call Saul, discusses his relationship with Jimmy, riding away in that cop car, and learning the backstory of the Huell we knew on Breaking Bad.
Q: What kind of reaction did you get from fans when Huell first reappeared in Season 3?
A: I got good feedback from people who were watching: “Oh my God. This is going to be a good night.” Lavell Crawford is in the credits in the beginning, so they saw that Huell is back and there were a lot of people excited about that. A couple guys said, “We got nervous. We thought you were about to kill somebody in this episode!” [Laughs] It’s all part of the fun. I do stand up, so I travel around and do interviews. It’s funny how people would have Breaking Bad parties and now they have Better Call Saul parties. It worked out that I lost the weight because it’s a prequel. It makes a lot of sense that everybody is younger and finally meeting each other. Huell’s body was doing a lot more than just being a sleeping bodyguard. [Laughs]
Q: Huell returns this season in Episode 6, intimidating punks. How much fun was it bashing all those piñatas?
A: Man, talk about stress relief. It was a nice stress relief. They had real candy in it too, so that made it real fun. It was just splashing all over the place. I think they got about 1,000 or so piñatas. I think they did some reshoots just to get rid of some of them. Me and [David Mattey], the guy who plays Man Mountain – we were just going crazy and got to smash a bunch of them.
Q: Jimmy has now given Huell a few jobs. Does he fully trust Jimmy at this point?
A: I don’t know if he trusts him yet. He trusts him enough because he’s giving him some work. I think that’s where he’s at right now. The money is the main objective. I don’t know if he trusts him yet, but I think they’re building a kinship. Right now, this guy is giving him a check. He likes what he’s doing. He’s getting to do things that are natural to him. It’s a paycheck and a line of income, so he’s going to make sure he’s OK.
Q: What does Huell think when Jimmy asks for his help selling drop phones? Does he enjoy working with Jimmy?
A: I think it’s just work, man. He knows his position. He probably doesn’t even know what they are. He doesn’t care. He knows the people are buying them and they’re very unsavory, almost like him. He knows what his job is. He doesn’t judge. I don’t think Huell ever judges unless you do something to him. It’s like a nice boss-assistant thing. He’s like a little brother that you keep protected and look out for. He knows he’s a pretty slick guy. He knows he’s a lawyer.
Q: When Jimmy is showing Huell the house he wants to convert into a law office, is Huell worried that their partnership might be over?
A: I’m sure. It’s like, “Where do I fit in? I ain’t no lawyer. I ain’t no paralegal.”
Q: But he’d be on the 40th floor if he were a lawyer…
A: [Laughs] When you come from the hood, you’re thinking you’re a lawyer and making big money. You’re doing big things!
Q: In Episode 7, Huell gets in trouble with the police. Why do you think he sprang into action the way he did?
A: He was out getting some sandwiches and he left his point. He came back like, “Oh hell! Here it goes. This is why he hired me. I’m going to blast this guy. Whatever I got to do to protect Jimmy and protect my money.” He didn’t hire me to sell cell phones. They sell themselves. So, when I see this big guy up on him and talking smugly and moving towards him, my whole objective is to hit him with whatever I got – sandwiches at that time and then after that, give him some of this knuckle sandwich.
Q: When he realizes he hit a cop, what goes through Huell’s mind?
A: He’s sh—tting bricks. He’s thinking, “Oh man, you’ve done got my ass in some trouble. I don’t know what to do.” He’s thinking of Jimmy and he’s not a lawyer anymore. Even if he’s talking about his law practice, he has to get his sh—t together. Man, I’m up sh—t creek. I hit a cop and this isn’t my first offense. The cop already knows who I am. No matter what a cop says, if they’ve arrested you before, you’re always a criminal. You better stay on the honest trail. Don’t go back to the dirty world. Once a criminal, always a criminal.
Q: Why is Huell so opposed to doing any jail time? What does it say about his desperation that he is willing to skip town?
A: He hit a cop and he’s a big black guy. Come on, man! I ain’t a criminal, but I know if I accosted a cop, he could do whatever he wants to. I’m sure he has some contacts that can put him under the jail forever. He’s better off on the run and getting the hell out of there.
Q: When Jimmy promises Huell he can work his magic, does Huell believe him? Do you think fans should be worried about Huell?
A: I think he sees that Jimmy will do anything to get things done. I think he sees that weasel and that snake in him. Maybe this guy probably knows the ins and outs and he’s a lawyer, so he might get me off. I’m going to trust him, but if not, I’m coming back when I get out to get his ass! [Laughs] I’m sure [the fans] are going to be like, “What’s happening? What’s going down?” When I was riding off in that cop car, I was sitting there wondering what was going to happen.
Q: What’s it like to continue to learn more about this character’s backstory?
A: I love it. Every character has to have layers. That’s so important. A lot of times, movies and TV shows leave you wondering where these guys come from or how they became good friends. It’s good to have these moments where you find that out. Jimmy probably hired him as a security guard but also liked him. He felt safe around him. He knows that if anybody has his back, it’s Huell.
Q: We know the Huell memes from Breaking Bad. Do you think there will be new ones from Better Call Saul?
A: I’m waiting. I can’t wait. I’m wondering how people are looking at the piñata thing. I know that’s going to be epic. That scene of bashing piñatas and me pulling off the mask – that was epic. Everybody’s reaction was like, “Whoa!” You can’t beat it.
Read a Q&A with Patrick Fabian, who plays Howard.
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