Bob Odenkirk Traces His Rise to Unlikely Leading Man
Playboy Magazine US|April 2016

You’ll be glad to know that the star of Better Call Saul and W/ Bob & David - two of the most adored spin-offs in recent TV history - is not comfortable with his newfound success.

David Rensin

Q1: Your longtime manager, the late Bernie Brillstein, said, “When your time has come, success will find you.” Where were you when it happened?

ODENKIRK: Sitting in an office at Raleigh Studios, writing a pilot that was destined to fail—one of many. I got a phone call from my agent. “You’re going to get offered a role,” he said. “Don’t say no. It’s a good one.” I don’t know why he felt he had to remind me: I’d been saying yes to everything. I was in development on a couple of projects. I was directing commercials. I’d shot three films. I wrote a show about four dads, Incompetent Husbands, and I wrote a show about minor league baseball, San Diego Snakes. I wrote a couple of movies. I was also doing little roles here and there, stuff a friend asks you to do and you show up for a day. But it’s not really filling your life. I felt a little lost in the wilderness. So I get this call, and the show was Breaking Bad. It was a drama and a different kind of acting than anybody had asked me to do before. I’d never seen the show. I called a friend who had. “Oh yeah, that’s my favorite show,” he said. “You gotta do that.” It helps to have someone go, “It’s awesome.” So I said okay. I had to fly to Albuquerque. I took the bus to the airport. From then on, good things started happening.

Q2: At the final Breaking Bad wrap party you said, “A TV series is ultimately judged by its spinoff.” What are your favorite spin-offs?

ODENKIRK: If I said Petticoat Junction, would you believe me? You would be a fool. No, my favorite is “Schultz’s Schnitzelhaus,” the spin-off from Hogan’s Heroes where Sergeant Schultz opens a noodle restaurant after the war. Lasted for eight seasons in Austria.

Q3: In his recent Playboy Interview, Bryan Cranston said he rents you his house in Albuquerque and you sleep in his bed. What are your dreams like when you slumber in the bed of the one who knocks?

ODENKIRK: I dream of being chased by Emmys trying to give themselves to me.

Q4: What was Bryan’s best advice on how to be a leading man?

ODENKIRK: I wanted to know how hard it was to have my own show. He was very encouraging: “You ran Mr. Show, so you’ve already been a leader on set. You’re ready for this.” I said, “I know that, but how do you do it? What does your day look like?” He said, “Oh, okay. You wake up, you study your lines, and you get to work. At lunch you study your lines. You have them make you dinner— because you will not have time to get dinner—and then you go home and study your lines. You study your lines in the airport. You study them on the plane. You study your lines when you’re back home. That’s how you do it.” Maybe it sounds obvious, but he made it concrete. You work hard.

Q5: It sounds like there’s no time for fun.

ODENKIRK: There are times when, if the dialogue is fairly dry, I have a great, deep-seated need to be goofy. I might ask the director if I can just do a take where I get to be stupid, to get it out of my system. On the movie Nebraska I had to read a news report. I could not get through that thing. I said, “Can I just do a silly one? Please? Shoot it, but I’m just going to completely make fun of everything I’m saying.” Once I did that I was able to do it straight. On Better Call Saul there’s a courtroom scene in the first season, a montage of me walking around yelling and lecturing. That’s all me goofing around.

Q6: Under what circumstances would you call Saul?

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