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‘Better Call Saul’ Creators Talk Character Backstory & Tease Season 2

The creative team behind “Better Call Saul” joined together Tuesday for the closing panel at Variety‘s annual TV Summit, moderated Debra Birnbaum, to talk about their stellar spinoff.

“I’m just glad it just didn’t take an enormous dump when it came out,” co-creator Vince Gilligan said, sparking laughter from the packed room. “That was very gratifying for me.”

Peter Gould agreed with his co-creator’s sentiment on the series’ freshman success. “‘Breaking Bad’ was lighting in a bottle and it would be really unrealistic to expect that again, but people seemed to really enjoy it.”

Gould was also joined by staff writer Gordon Smith, supervising producer Gennifer Hutchinson and co-exec producer Thomas Schnauz on the panel. They discussed the unusual nature of the character development process on “Saul,” given the situation that the audience knows what is coming in the future for the main character played by Bob Odenkirk.

“The fact that people have embraced Bob’s performance as Jimmy McGill and really gotten into this character, the audience feels the same as us, which is that we love him so much, we’re a little bit sad he’s going to turn into Saul Goodman,” Gould said. ” There’s something tragic about the fact that this guy who is so open-hearted and essentially a decent person becomes this drug lawyer. It creates a lot of tension in the show.

In discussing the season one storyline, the writers noted that the villainous turn for the character of Chuck McGill, the other brother of Saul Goodman played by Michael McKean, was something that came together late in the writing process for season one.

Hutchinson said she was pleasantly surprised that the show found fans, other than those from “Breaking Bad.”

“It’s really gratifying because I always say this is a really weird show. The tone is very different than a lot of what’s out there, and we really enjoyed it, but we didn’t know how people would respond, especially after ‘Breaking Bad,’ which people were so generous with their admiration to.” She continued, “It’s been people who weren’t huge ‘Breaking Bad’ fans, but are really into ‘Better Call Saul.'”

The creative team also dished out a few teasers for “Saul’s” future.

The Season 1 DVD will feature “Kettle Kommentary” — that is, in-character commentary from the actors behind the fan-favorite Kettlemans, Jeremy Shamos and Julie Ann Emery. As for Season 2, can viewers expect more of the Kettlemans? “We sure want to,” said Gould.

With six out of 10 episodes of the second season wrapped, Gilligan said, “I think what happens next is actually going to surprise people. It’s not what we thought it would be.”

In other tibidts:

  • Gilligan noted that “Saul” has a different look and feel than its predecessor in part because it is shot on digital video rather than film. “It’s not entirely a happy thing. We finally gave in and joined the future,” he said. The show is using the cutting-edge RED digital camera. “It’s a great camera but I kind of miss film,” Gilligan admitted.
  • “Saul” writers have had fun turning small Saul Goodman mentions in from “Breaking Bad” into story moments for “Saul,” such as depicting his boast that he once bedded two women after convincing them he was Kevin Costner.
  • The character of Kim Wexler played by Rhea Seehorn in “Saul” has been vital to giving depth to Saul that he didn’t have as a supporting character on “Breaking Bad.” “He didn’t have people that grounded him in the world in ‘Breaking Bad,’ ” Hutchinson said. “Bringing Kim in and slowly growing her over the season as someone he really cares about was really important.”

 

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