Ahead Of Better Call Saul's Final Season, Bob Odenkirk Just Landed His First Big Dramatic Role After Saul Goodman

Saul worried on Better Call Saul
(Image credit: AMC)

One of the most anticipated TV debuts of 2022 is the final season of Better Call Saul, which will (at least for now) serve as the official final chapter within the Breaking Bad universe. As sad as that will be, considering how beloved the burgeoning criminal lawyer has become, at least it won’t be the last time we see Bob Odenkirk in action on the small screen. The genre-bending actor had already lined up a new comedy project with former Mr. Show co-creator David Cross, but has now set up his next big dramatic role, and he’ll be sticking with the AMC family for it.

AMC Networks has locked Bob Odenkirk in for a potential new series in the form of the drama Straight Man, based on the celebrated novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo. While the project is currently in the in-development phase, the announcement noted that AMC is fast-tracking things on the path to a hopeful series order. 

Straight Man would focus on Bob Odenkirk as William Henry Devereaux, Jr., who serves as the chairman of the English department at Railton College, a severely underfunded institution located in Pennsylvania’s Rust Belt. Given the rough state of things, Devereaux enters into a mid-life crisis, and one can only imagine how well Odenkirk will sell that portrayal, given his bumbling everyman appeal. 

For its creative team, Straight Man boasts Aaron Zelman and Paul Lieberstein, who will serve as the writers and co-showrunners. Zelman is a former writer and/or executive producer on such successful and acclaimed dramas and thrillers as Law & Order, Criminal Minds, The Killing and Bloodline. Meanwhile, Lieberstein is more known for crafting comedic efforts alongside Greg Daniels, including writing for King of the Hill, Space Force and The Office, on which he starred as the put-upon Toby Flenderson. 

As he’s proven time and again on both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, Bob Odenkirk knows how to draw laughs, how to anchor emotional drama, and how to bring audiences into a mindset of sheer terror. So tackling a project from Zelman and LIeberstein should be an enjoyable cakewalk for the actor. Here’s how he reacted to the news in the announcement:

I loved Paul and Aaron’s take on Richard’s excellent, entertaining novel. Once again a project with AMC with a focus on character depth and sensitivity. This milieu (academia) seems very pertinent to the conversations we’re all having. I am drawn to the tone of humanity and humor in the novel and I look forward to playing this role - something lighter than my recent projects but still closely observed and smart.

This is huge news, and is further proof that Bob Odenkirk is showing no signs of slowing down after suffering a heart attack during production on Season 6. Thankfully, the actor was able to recover fairly quickly, and wrapped filming with the rest of the cast and crew in February. It’ll be bittersweet to see Saul/Jimmy/Gene bow out of our lives once and for all, with Better Call Saul joining plenty of other shows ending this year, but at least we can go into it knowing that he’ll probably be back on AMC with a new show before too long.

It’s presumed that Odenkirk’s English chairman won’t be shadowing as a meth cook in his spare time. While waiting to hear more about Straight Man, don’t forget that Odenkirk will also be reteaming with David Cross to create the satirical mockumentary series Guru Nation for Paramount+. In the meantime, Better Call Saul Season 5 is finally streaming for those with a Netflix subscription, so be sure to catch up before the final season debuts on AMC on Monday, April 18, at 8:00 p.m., with the first two episodes airing back to back.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.