Plenty of actors later say they were down to their last dollar before getting the call that changed the trajectory of their careers. According to “Better Call Saul” star Bob Odenkirk, that’s exactly what happened to him before getting the role of a lifetime as the flamboyant criminal lawyer Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad.”
“I get a phone call, ‘They’re gonna offer you a role on ‘Breaking Bad,’” the 59-year-old actor told Howard Stern on his Sirius XM radio show. He went on to explain how the Emmy-award winning series was “not a popular show or a big show at the time,” so his agent warned him “don’t say ‘no.’”
“And I was like, ‘Dude, I haven’t said “no” in a year and a half — but maybe you didn’t notice that,’” Odenkirk recalled.
The “Mr. Show” alum explains how he was working on some directing projects that didn’t pan out. This left him in a “financial hole” so deep he was forced to ask his business manager for help. Odenkirk was able to get a $900,000 loan that way so he could “keep afloat,” but he knew he needed to find a successful project soon.
It’s funny to think about now considering how financially and critically successful “Breaking Bad” became over its five season run. But at the time when it was unknown, Odenkirk said he asked a friend for advice on whether he should take the role.
“I still checked it out, I still wanted to know what the hell the show was,” he told Stern. “I called a friend, somebody I’d been writing with, Reid Harrison, and he goes, ‘Oh, that’s the best show on TV. You gotta do that. That’s the best thing there is.’”
That decision wound up being the life-changing yes that legends are made of. Odenkirk not only dazzled as Saul Goodman for the rest of the series, but his acting chops earned him the lead in the spinoff prequel “Better Call Saul,” which some critics are claiming is even better than the original series it’s based upon. The final season of the AMC drama is scheduled to premiere this April.
Odenkirk also talked with Stern about the heart attack he suffered while filming “Better Call Saul” season six. He said the crew’s quick action doing CPR and using a defibrillator literally saved his life. He told Stern how the crew had to use the medical device three times before they got a response.
“Which is actually a lot, Howard,” Odenkirk said during the interview. “When the defibrillator doesn’t work once, that’s not good. When it doesn’t work the second time, that is kind of like — forget it. But then they jacked it up a third time, and it got me back to a rhythm.”
Odenkirk credits his improved physical condition with also helping save his life from the heart episode. The “Breaking Bad” alum spent many months getting in shape for the thriller “Nobody” in 2021.
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