So, who else has spent the better part of the last three years wondering when Better Call Saul's Jimmy McGill becomes his notorious alter-ego, Saul Goodman? Well, if actor Bob Odenkirk's July 3 interview with Entertainment Weekly is any indication, it sounds like Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad is coming to Better Call Saul sooner than you think. For Breaking Bad fans, the imminent return of Odenkirk's slick-talking, and often pretty slimy, attorney character will probably prove itself a pretty welcome one. As was the case with many of Breaking Bad's refreshingly flawed cast of morally-questionable characters, Saul Goodman was the primetime villain most viewers seemingly loved to hate.
That's sort of ironic, since the actor himself told EW that he's got his own set of apprehensions about the character as Better Call Saul careens into its fourth season. Why's that? After parsing through Odenkirk's comments to EW, whose report was published Tuesday, July 3, it seems like he's still got a bit of coming to terms to do, as far as his character's notoriously crooked disposition is concerned. So, as Better Call Saul's timeline catches up to that of Breaking Bad, Odenkirk said he's dreading what inevitably lies ahead for his character as he transitions from Jimmy McGill (Saul Goodman's birth name, and the only moniker he's gone by so far during his run in Better Call Saul) to the nefarious Saul Goodman.
"I'm having to confront the fact that he is becoming Saul, and I don't like Saul," Odenkirk told EW, adding, "If he was my friend, I would say, 'Don't go that route.'" As fans know, the "route" Odenkirk seems to be referencing here is the one that takes Jimmy — the likable lawyer who viewers have watched grow as Better Call Saul's leading character — down a twisted, dangerous path of crime and debauchery, eventually leading him to adopt a new, alter-ego type moniker: Saul Goodman. (The character's Darth Vader-type transition is also pretty visible in Better Call Saul's season 4 trailer, which AMC released Monday, June 2.)
Breaking Bad fanatics will probably remember meeting Saul pretty early on during the series' second season, at which point the character matter-of-factly informed Walter White that Saul Goodman's not his real name; he only goes by it because his clients feel more comfortable when their lawyer is "a pipe-hitting member of the Tribe." For those who didn't have such a sturdy grasp on Saul's character before now, that quote seems to sum up the epitome of who he is pretty accurately.
Regardless of Saul's dubious moral leanings, he quickly became a Breaking Bad fan-favorite and remained as such for the duration of his stint on the show, which spanned four seasons. Then, not too long after Breaking Bad wrapped in 2013, Odenkirk's character scored his own prequel spin-off series, Better Call Saul, set six years prior to the start of Breaking Bad. At first, when producers approached him with the spin-off offer, Odenkirk told EW he was a little hesitant. Explaining how that initial conversation played out, the actor circled back once again to his concerns about Saul's character, saying,
"My first question when we talked was, 'How do you make him likable?' Because I didn’t like that guy. I mean, I like watching him — like a car wreck when you’re not in it. It's intriguing. It pulls you in. But he's a bad guy."
Of course, as Better Call Saul viewers have come to learn, Odenkirk's character wasn't bad news from the start. The Jimmy McGill that's unfurled before fans' eyes in the spin-off is a much more three-dimensional, humanized version of the guy we know he eventually becomes on Breaking Bad. Speaking to EW about the character's ostensible leap from flat-out bad-guy to layered protagonist (one that Better Call Saul's audience ends up rooting for, despite knowing full-well the kind of man he becomes later on), Odenkirk credited the spin-off's creators, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.
"They made him such a likable guy, and yet kept it organic," Odenkirk said of the pretty noticeable overhaul in Saul/Jimmy's characterization from Breaking Bad to Better Call Saul. He added, "It's not a completely different person, but I really like the guy."
Audiences will just have to hold out until Better Call Saul's fourth season premieres on August 6 to really get a sense of just how much of the old Saul Goodman they'll be seeing once again onscreen. Likable or not, it seems safe to say Odenkirk's performance as the newly-minted Saul Goodman won't be one to miss.