“Better Call Saul” producers and cast addressed the inevitable comparisons to “Breaking Bad” at a panel at the Television Critics Assn. on Saturday.
“We want this show to stand on its own,” said executive producer Peter Gould, answering a question about whether the stars of “Breaking Bad” will appear in the prequel, which is set to premiere on AMC on February 8. “Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul will not appear in season one.”
Added series star Bob Odenkirk, “Vince (Gilligan) and Peter are the brains behind it, and they’re the brains behind ‘Breaking Bad.’ Tonally and their expertise are all carried over.”
Plus, he joked, “Every time I come in the office, I ask, has Walter White called yet. And Jesse would be in middle school.”
Gilligan and Gould aimed to differentiate “Better Call Saul” visually from “Breaking Bad.”
“We had this great advantage of the same pilot director of ‘Breaking Bad (in Gilligan),” explains Gould. “We were able to sit down and talk about what’s the same, what’s different. ‘Breaking Bad’ had a handheld camera, so there was always a bit of motion. This camera tends to be more static and locked down. You feel like Jimmy is struggling against the corners of the frame.”
Gilligan said he was inspired by Bertolucci and William Friedkin. “You always steal from the best,” he said. “There are only so many places you can put the camera,” he said. “Man, we had fun trying to reinvent the wheel.”
As with “Breaking Bad,” the creators will play with time. “Walter White had a very existential and immediate problem — he was dying of cancer,” says Gilligan. “We didn’t know how long he would have. We don’t have that issue with Jimmy.”
Joked Odenkirk, “Saul could be disbarred at any moment.”
The show, which filmed in Albuquerque, reconstituted as much of the “Breaking Bad” crew as possible — minus the original stars. Odenkirk stepped in to fill Cranston’s role of father on the set.
“Those people, whether it was Bryan or Aaron or Dean, are loved, their ghosts are there,” said Jonathan Banks, who plays Mike Ehrmantraut. “But this is a different show. And it is really good.”
Here’s the extended trailer for the upcoming season.