Yes, Bob Odenkirk knows you’ve heard the buzz about Better Call Saul, the rumored Breaking Bad spinoff featuring his fan-favorite character, morally flexible, courtroom-averse lawyer Saul Goodman. But if you think those rumors gave Odenkirk an ounce of security that Saul survives the wrath of Walter White in Bad’s Sept. 29 series finale, you’d be, well, dead wrong.
“Knowing [showrunner] Vince [Gilligan] and how seriously he takes the show, he will kill Saul if that is what should happen — so you should know that!” says Odenkirk. “He would not hesitate to do that because there is a gossipy story about a potential sequel. He will do with Saul what is right for the character and what is appropriate for the story and he will not be motivated in any way by other professional possibilities.”
Odenkirk, whose character was originally intended for just a few Season 2 episodes, says he himself is such a Bad fan that even he didn’t want to know how the series’ denouement played out, so he took extreme measures to ensure that outcome.
“I didn’t want to know what happened,” he says. “I could have! I could have read everything! I had it! But I only read my parts and then I just completely put them in my trash, and then I trashed the trash on my email so I wouldn’t be tempted to dig through the trash and find them again.”
Odenkirk says he believes Saul’s knack for comic relief in the midst of uber-intense drama, coupled with his ability to get his charges out of jams, legal and otherwise, is what kept him around to the bitter end. Which, he reiterates, could prove to be bitter, indeed, even for the one guy who’s proved Teflon thus far.
“Saul has kept an arm’s length away from all the dangers around him and that’s the way he likes it and I think he assumed that he could keep it that way,” Odenkirk says. “Then he discovers in this last season how ruthless and devious Walter White is, and Saul realizes that he has to somehow see this through to an end that hopefully just keeps him alive. He doesn’t have a simple solution. And I think that the multiple murders in the prisons that Walt made happen really made Saul realize that there’s no safe place. How to get out of it is going to be a tough one and it’s not going to be by running away.”
Asked if recent glimmers of humanity such as his softening heart toward his emotionally tortured former client Jesse means Saul turns out to be a good guy, Odenkirk laughs. “Saul’s a good guy at heart! He’s a good lawyer! Listen to me!” he howls happily. “Saul is a good lawyer and in the end, he is not completely heartless. I think Saul had no scruples until he was tied to a guy who genuinely had no scruples, and then Saul discovered that he has limits. He knows he’s gone past them and he wants it to end.”
With a happily ever after — or at least a spinoff?
“Well, you’ll have to find out just like everyone else,” laughs Odenkirk, who is executive producing and costarring in IFC’s October sketch comedy debut The Birthday Boys and will appear in Alexander Payne’s upcoming feature film, Nebraska. “You don’t get to know just because you write for a magazine and can get people on the phone!”
The final eight episodes of Breaking Bad begin Sunday, Aug. 11 on AMC.
Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC