You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jonathan Banks Talks Filming ‘Better Call Saul’ Showcase Episode ‘Five-O’

Jonathan Banks has lived with Mike Ehrmantraut for over six years now. The “Better Call Saul” co-star memorably played the taciturn fixer for multiple seasons on “Breaking Bad,” earning an Emmy nom for his final run in 2012. But he never had a showcase quite like “Five-O” — the “Saul” installment in which Mike comes clean to his daughter-in-law (Kerry Condon) about the tragic truth behind his son’s death at the hands of corrupt cops, before breaking down in tears. Banks talks us through filming that episode, its haunting effect on him and his reaction to watching the final cut.

Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Season 1, episode 7, “Five-O”
written by Gordon Smith; directed by Adam Bernstein

JONATHAN BANKS: “As an actor you have so much backstory that you do yourself. And then it’s taken out of your hands because you do not have the pen that writes the script. Are there minor things that I would have changed? Maybe. I can’t even remember because as soon as I get (the script) — oh, do I have respect for my writers, as well I should — I immediately immerse myself in that. It’s exactly what you want. Gordon (Smith) wrote me this love letter of a monologue. And away we went.

“The line, ‘I broke my boy, I broke him’ — I think that was me in the heat of the emotion. I used the word ‘broke’ because it’s what I felt. And they kept it.

“We got together and rehearsed that scene Adam (Bernstein) the director, and Kerry (Condon) and myself. We all wanted to rehearse it, so we did rehearse it a couple times before we ever got to set. We took a Sunday, about two or three hours, and then we shot it the next week. Kerry and I had never worked together, and we had never met each other. It was important.

“Am I ever as prepared as I would like to be? Probably not. But there’s a time you got to take the leap and go.

“Adam’s a friend. And one of the things about someone being a friend, you don’t have to explain a lot of each other. So when he turns to me and he says, ‘That good for you?’ I mean, I could have been there until today, and I’m never going to be completely satisfied. But my trust in Adam is such that, if he has said to me, ‘I think we need this’ or ‘we need that,’ I would have done it. Or at least I would have tried to do it. It’s spoken sometimes, but many times the direction between Adam and I, it’s unspoken. It’s done with a glance, or a look, or a shrug of the shoulders.

“I have an opinion about tears. People who can bring them easily and do it, good for them. I don’t mean that in a cavalier way. But for me, if there are no tears there, I’m not going to force tears. I will not force tears whether it’s at my mom’s funeral or on a movie or a TV set. To the best of my ability, when we did it, I was living it. And that’s where they came from.

“It was just feeling the fullness of (the scene) and (the tears) just came. You’re so into it with the actress that I’m not terribly aware of what’s around me. You’re just so focused. And the hurt. You hurt. You’re in pain. And I just wasn’t aware of a lot around me at that moment.

“Honesty is what it really was. I have to be as honest with this as I possibly know how. And I’ve lived long enough. I have kids. I have friends that have lost children. A lot of that goes into it. The very idea that you would destroy one of your children, it’s just unimaginable. You can’t live with it.

“I’ve seen (the episode) twice. I looked at it. I thought, ‘Yup, that’s what I did.’ I think I’ve given myself enough of a break. I do what I do and now it’s there and there’s nothing in this world I can do to change it. So, enjoy it if you can. Relax. But I will say this: That night after finishing that scene, it was days before I was straight again.

“You do something and then you’re moving on. You just have to. If you’ve done a piece of good work, well then you’ve done a piece of good work. And now it’s gone and that’s all there is to it.”

More TV

  • Presidential Race Cable News Donald Trump

    CNN Calls on Trump to Denounce Video Showing Violence Against Media

    CNN has called on President Trump to denounce a video that was shown at a pro-Trump conference last week, in which the president is depicted slaughtering figures representing media outlets. The New York Times reported that the video was shown at a conference for Trump supporters held at Trump’s golf resort in Doral, Fla. According [...]

  • RuPaul Variety Vanguard Award

    How RuPaul Paved the Way for the Art of Drag to Be Celebrated by the Masses

    It took years of hustle and hard work in high heels before RuPaul hit it big in TV. But while he was on the road to becoming a household name and multiple Emmy winner, the host and executive producer of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” never doubted that he was destined for small-screen success. “Everything I know [...]

  • Stephen Moore

    Stephen Moore, 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Android, 'Doctor Who' Actor, Dies at 81

    Stephen Moore, best known for his roles as the paranoid android Marvin in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” radio series and the Silurian Eldane in “Doctor Who,” has died. He was 81. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” producer Dirk Maggs confirmed Moore’s death Sturday on Twitter, writing, “Our dear friend Stephen Moore has [...]

  • Baghdad-Central-Image

    Fremantle, Hulu Bringing 'Baghdad Central' to United States

    Fremantle is partnering with Hulu to bring the UK drama “Baghdad Central” to the United States, Fremantle announced Monday. The latest in Hulu’s growing slate of international content, “Baghdad Central” will launch on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and stream on Hulu in 2020. Based on the novel by Elliott Colla, the six-part drama [...]

  • Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet

    Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet on ‘Sing or Spin’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Global production and distribution giant Endemol Shine is to duet with leading Chinese producer and broadcaster Hunan TV on primetime entertainment format “Sing or Spin,” which has an innovative spin: a revolving stage that lets singers know how well they are scoring. The show has been co-developed by Endemol Shine China and Hunan TV as [...]

  • 'Succession': Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen on

    'Succession' Stars Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen Break Down How To Make a Tomelette

    You can’t make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs, and you can’t get through an episode of ‘Succession’ without a few rounds of riffing, at least according to Nicholas Braun (who plays Greg Hirsch) and Matthew Macfadyen (who portrays Tom Wamsgans). “We basically improv in probably every scene to some capacity,” says Braun. Though the [...]

  • Manchester City Football Club Animated Series

    Manchester City Soccer Team Animated Series in the Works (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Sky Blue Academy,” an animated series set inside the training academy of reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City, is in the works, Variety has learned. The Pep Guardiola-managed team has enjoyed numerous successes in recent years and broken into world soccer’s elite, becoming a global brand in the process. The show will follow a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content