'Better Call Saul': Vince Gilligan Talks Delays, 'Breaking Bad' Cameos, Starting From Scratch
"I thought it was going to be easy, but we didn't know this guy at all," the creator says of Bob Odenkirk's character, also quick to note that his new AMC drama is not going to dwell on cameos from the parent series.
Better Call Saul is off and running. Delayed until early 2015 but already renewed for a second season, AMC's Breaking Bad prequel recently started shooting down in the parent series' old digs of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Briefly tearing themselves away from production, co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould appeared at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Friday evening — maybe in part to assure everyone of their excitement despite the recent premiere date push.
"We could have made the deadline, but I am slow as mud," said Gilligan, admitting that he wanted to take his time on the show. "I still feel I'm very slow for television."
"We had a pace on Breaking Bad that was deliciously stately for television," added Gould. "We have a way of doing things that is slower than most television shows."
Very early in the shoot and already breaking episode eight of the first 10, whatever holdup there was in starting Better Call Saul may have had something to do with the reality of the undertaking. Bob Odenkirk's titular character, as big of a Breaking Bad fan favorite as he is, didn't have the most fully realized identity.
"I thought it was going to be easy," said Gilligan. "'Oh, we know who this guy is.' But we didn't know this guy at all. He was a supporting player. It's an interesting process."
Gilligan and Gould recalled the beginning of Breaking Bad's final season as the closest comparison. "It reminds me a lot of season five when we had the machine gun in the trunk," said Gould. "We knew that was the right image, but we didn't know how we were going to get there. Breaking Bad is the machine gun in the truck. We know where this guy is going to end up, and we're going to bring him to that point."
There were a few nuggets of news dropped in the panel. Michael McKean, one of the series regulars, is playing Saul's brother, Chuck. Many Breaking Bad directors are also returning for the spinoff, including "Better Call Saul" episode director Terry McDonough. Gould will also direct the finale.
Much talk around the series has centered on Breaking Bad, still so fresh in viewers' minds — as evident by 16 Emmy nominations this week. And while Gilligan and Gould would not rule out the possibilities for guest appearances from Bryan Cranston and company, they took the opportunity to remind reporters that this is its own show.
"These are all characters we love," said Gould. "Having said that, we're trying to make something that stands on its own and has an entertainment value of not just seeing old favorites. It's not a clip show. We try to balance these things out."
"I don't think we're giving anything away to say we're still figuring this out — including if and when we'll see some of these characters," added Gilligan, a touch more generous about the potential for crossover than his colleague. "We like nonlinear storytelling. I would point you in the direction of anything that was possible on Breaking Bad is possible on Better Call Saul."