The “Better Call Saul” team feels the urgency to move its storyline along to catch up with the “Breaking Bad” era, but they’re also enjoying exploring the life of Jimmy McGill before he transformed into Saul Goodman. That was the sentiment shared by “Saul” creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould on Saturday during the PaleyFest session on AMC’s “Breaking Bad” prequel.
“I was saying all the time in the room to the writers, ‘We better get cracking here. We better get to Saul Goodman because if people tune in, a safe assumption is that’s who they’re tuning in to see,’ ” Gilligan said during the screening and Q&A at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, which was moderated by Variety‘s Debra Birnbaum. Gilligan admitted that he had been nervous the character of Saul, the shady criminal lawyer who became a central figure in “Breaking Bad,” wasn’t developing fast enough for the audience.
Gould acknowledged that the roadmap for telling the McGill-to-Goodman story in “Saul” is hardly set in stone.
“There’s no master plan. The thing is we do know a lot. We know how Saul Goodman dresses, we know how he expresses himself, the things he’s willing to do and we also know who Jimmy McGill is and we know how Jimmy dresses, thinks, expresses himself and what Jimmy’s not willing to do,” Gould said. “We kind of have these end points, but how we get from New York to L.A. is a big question. Sometimes we talk about it like the Transcontinental Railroad. We built half of it on ‘Breaking Bad’ and now here we are starting from the west going back east. You kind of hope you don’t end up three states apart,” Gould joked.
Gilligan and Gould, along with “Saul” stars Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean, Michael Mando and Patrick Fabian, dissected the testy sibling rivalry between Jimmy (Odenkirk) and his accomplished older brother Chuck (McKean). An interesting tidbit of McGill family history is shared in the March 14 episode of “Saul,” which screened as part of the Paleyfest presentation.
“These two brothers, for everything that’s going on between them, they love each other but they truly don’t understand each other,” Gould said. “Jimmy doesn’t understand Chuck, and Chuck sure as hell doesn’t understand Jimmy.” Gould said the McGill brothers’ relationship was inspired in part by the family dynamic presented in the 1994 doc “Crumb” about legendary comic artist R. Crumb.
Odenkirk is in his element with the show that allows him to explore so many emotional aspects of a complicated character.
“That first season ended and you sort of felt like it was a clean slate. But with family, it’s never a clean slate,” Odenkirk said. “I love continuing to explore it, as challenging as it is.”
Regarding the fate of Jimmy’s relationship with rising-star attorney Kim Wexler (Seehorn), Gilligan confirmed that the couple’s future has plenty of challenges ahead.
“There’s a reason fairy tales end with ‘and they lived happily ever after,’ and there’s a reason you never see that part, because it’s boring,” Gilligan said. “It’s what we want in our real lives, it’s not what we want our dramas. Difficulties will continue.”
Odenkirk said he loves the quirkiness of how Jimmy’s romance with Kim is unfolding. The two have an undeniable attraction to each other even as they both have very different perspectives on their work and what they want out of life.
“We had a scene in bed eating pie. I don’t think it gets any better,” Odenkirk added with a laugh.