For six years, Breaking Bad fans found comfort in the edge of their seats as creator Vince Gilligan weaved an often unpredictable path through a New Mexico suburban underworld. But it's possible few people were more surprised by the show’s events than star Bob Odenkirk, who had a particular amazement while reading through each episode when he realized that Saul Goodman would live to see another day.
In an interview with TimeOut New York, Odenkirk shares his thoughts on why he never really thought Saul would still be around to call after the show ended.
I was surprised every time I read the script. He did seem like a perfect character to kill. You can’t kill Jesse, and you can’t kill Walt. But you do have to occasionally kill an important character just to keep the stakes high for everyone. So I was looking for that. Bryan Cranston said Saul was like a cockroach and he was gonna crawl out at the end.
Considering just how big of a fan favorite character Saul was, I’m still surprised he’s around to have flash-forward segments in the excellent Better Call Saul. Saul seemed like just the kind of expendable character whose affable sliminess would make him an ideal target for sympathy-drawing violence.
But no, it never happened, and it really never felt like he was truly in mortal danger to me. Except for maybe near the end, when even his demeanor was shattered. Leave it to Bryan Cranston to be the smart guy in real life as well as the genius on TV.
Over the years, Odenkirk has also been surprised by how much people have enjoyed the Saul Goodman character, considering he’s such a weasel. He reflects on that, as well as how Better Call Saul gets to the root of the character better than Breaking Bad ever did.
It’s a lot of fun to see a character who is duplicitous and trying to put one over on people. And the thing that I’m amazed at and thankful for is people actually like Saul Goodman. That really surprised me. I think in Better Call Saul we dig into a place where he is justifiably likable. As for why people liked him on Breaking Bad, you’ll have to go ask.
In two episodes, Better Call Saul has definitely delivered in terms of character development, as Saul’s original identity Jimmy McGill gets put under an enjoyable TV drama microscope. We get to watch him deal with his brother, played by Michael McKean, as well as his first interactions with his future muscle man Mike. What’s more, Odenkirk doesn’t have to worry about his character dying this time around, and nor does he need to worry about cancelations, since it was renewed for Season 2. Saul Goodman is immortal.