What would happen if you took one of the most affable comedians in Hollywood history and transformed him into one of the most successful television anti-heroes of all time? That’s what happened to Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul, the prequel to Breaking Bad about James McGill (Saul Goodman) before he became Walter White’s lawyer. And that is why Bob Odenkirk deserves to be recognized as one of the greatest dramatic actors of our time, not just one of the funniest comedians. How Bob Odenkirk Made Jimmy McGill a Tragic Anti-Hero in Better Call Saul

Breaking Bad: From Painful Shyness to Scam Artist

According to creator Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad is about how Mr. Chips turns into Scarface. But Breaking Bad fans know that there’s more to Walter White than his road from mild-mannered chemistry teacher to brutal drug lord. In fact, Walter White’s path from Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) to his alter ego, Saul Goodman, was arguably as interesting and compelling as any of his actions during or after becoming Heisenberg. That journey came out of one word: shyness. Gilligan stated that he knew from early on that Walter White would be forced by circumstance into extreme action (i.e., becoming Heisenberg), but wanted to develop him further before getting there so that we’d care about him when tragedy struck.

Mike Ehrmantraut

The tragic, compelling relationship between Jimmy and Mike Ehrmantraut is central to how we see Jimmy evolve from harmless small town scam artist to morally questionable legal aid lawyer, and then (in Breaking Bad) ruthless drug kingpin. After all, Jimmy’s descent into criminality begins with his attempts to impress Mike, who turns out to be his true soulmate. Before they meet on Breaking Bad, when Mike offers Jimmy a job it comes with an ultimatum: As long as you work for me, you stay straight and you behave yourself. We don’t know what sort of person Jimmy was before he met Mike; it’s entirely possible that he wasn’t so bad.

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Turning Jimmy into Saul

Jimmy McGill is one of modern television’s most complex characters. He started out as Jimmy, a struggling lawyer who just wanted to do good by his client and later became Saul Goodman, who, while successful at his job, still managed to maintain a sense of humor about himself. The transition between those two characters was almost seamless thanks to his actor: Bob Odenkirk. In an interview with TV Insider , he explained how he created each character, their motivations and tragic flaws.

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler

Kim Wexler was introduced on Breaking Bad as part of Jimmy McGill’s (Odenkirk) circle of friends and future love interest. She is well respected at her firm, works hard to move up, is ambitious and very good at what she does. But despite these qualities, she hasn’t seemed to climb higher than middle management due to her reluctance to play office politics and her failure to be flexible or change course with shifting priorities. On Better Call Saul , Kim seems lost after Chuck’s death but has also become more decisive. Like Jimmy, it’s clear that she had trouble deciding where their relationship was going.

How Bob Odenkirk Made Jimmy McGill a Tragic Anti-Hero in Better Call Saul
How Bob Odenkirk Made Jimmy McGill a Tragic Anti-Hero in Better Call Saul

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut

A police officer for Philadelphia, who becomes involved with Mike Ehrmantraut’s drug ring to secure money for his granddaughter’s medical bills. Banks was formally an actor on Seinfeld. He also played Frank McPike in Wiseguy (1987). The producers of Breaking Bad had originally cast him as an unnamed Mafia henchman on that show, but they had to re-cast when they realized they needed someone with larger stature than Banks. For five seasons he portrayed Walter White’s brother-in-law Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad, and directed some episodes of both series.

Why this Series works?

The series is set 6 years before its predecessor, Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad was one of those rare television programs that was watched by everyone. The unique concept, interesting characters and complex plot ensured it gained mass appeal. The show’s popularity lies heavily on its lead actor, Bryan Cranston as Walter White. How does an actor transform into such a character? Most of us will never know but for Better Call Saul we have some idea how he did it as well as his next transformation with Gene Takavic. We also know that no matter how many awards he receives or how many TV shows he produces, acting is what brought him to fame and acting roles are what keep him employed today.

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The Future of Better Call Saul

Breaking Bad had its fair share of tragic heroes, but none of them were as complex and multi-layered as Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman. Creator Vince Gilligan has promised to take things slow with Better Call Saul, introducing one character at a time to avoid some of Breaking Bad’s pacing problems. However, even without full plot details available yet, it seems like Bob Odenkirk is going to steal every scene he’s in as double (triple?) crosser Gene Takavic, who is poised to be one of television’s greatest tragic antiheroes yet. The character brings depth to what would otherwise be pure comic relief by not just showing us where Jimmy McGill will end up, but where his path was set long before he ever chose law school over criminal court.

Does Jimmy become Saul in Better Call Saul?

Does Gene Takavic become Jimmy McGill? Or is he always an incarnation of Saul Goodman? Bob Odenkirk’s role as Gene Takavic, who is really more a symbol of where Jimmy could go and what he could become, may be more pivotal to Better Call Saul than originally expected.

Does Walter White ever appear in Better Call Saul?

Yes, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) appears twice so far in one episode of season 2. He calls Saul and tells him to leave his family alone (Mike is dating Walt’s wife). This scene gives us more information about Mike Ehrmantraut’s relationship with Walter and also shows us how much Walter has changed since he left Albuquerque.

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Does Jesse Pinkman make a cameo in Better Call Saul?

We’re never going to see Walter White or Jesse Pinkman again. The characters are gone, said Gilligan.

Is Jimmy McGill in Breaking Bad? How Bob Odenkirk Made Jimmy McGill a Tragic Anti-Hero in Better Call Saul

The show takes place before, during and after Breaking Bad . There have been 3 season of AMC’s Better Call Saul so far. The first 2 was 10 episodes long and there was one more coming up. All we know is that Jimmy will end up being known as Saul Goodman. We’ve seen him work with Walter White before and even go to his house.

Is Saul Goodman based on a real person?

It’s been noted by many viewers that Breaking Bad character Saul Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk) bears quite a strong resemblance to New York lawyer and real estate mogul, Roy M. Cohn. After all, both have controversial connections to organized crime, as well as closeted homosexuality. In fact, there are rumors circulating that Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan based his version of Jimmy McGill on Cohn—even though Gilligan denies it. One can only wonder if perhaps things would have turned out differently for Jimmy had he looked up Roy for guidance instead of turning to Mike Ehrmantraut? We may never know…

Why did Jimmy change his name to Saul Goodman?

While it’s not clear if he actually became known as Saul Goodman in his early days, we do know that, when he was arrested by Walter White (Bryan Cranston) at an industrial laundry company, Jimmy took on the name Gene Takavic (which was one of his aliases). Why? Because it would help him get away with things. His true identity was revealed to viewers at about the same time as it became clear to him. Given how skilled he is at weaving tall tales and getting out of tight situations, it’s little wonder that Saul decided to continue carrying around that name–and occasionally using it himself when dealing with clients who are similarly savvy.

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