Emmys: How 'Better Call Saul' Used Code Names to Keep Its Characters a Secret

Better Call Saul -Bob Odenkirk -Season 2, Episode 1-H 2016
Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Showrunner Peter Gould reveals the extreme measures the cast and crew took to make sure the appearances of show favorites Hector Salamanca (played by Mark Margolis) and the Cousins (Daniel and Luis Moncada) were kept under wraps until the episodes aired.

Most rewarding scene to see completed

In the "Squat Cobbler" scene, Jimmy explains his client's (Mark Proksch), uh, unusual sexual practices to a pair of very nonplussed cops (beautifully played by A. Russell Andrews and Troy Winbush). Genny Hutchison wrote a very, very funny scene, Terry McDonough directed the hell out of it … and Bob Odenkirk added a touch of genius. Our show has a not-so-secret weapon: Bob isn't only a brilliant dramatic performer, he's also one of the great comedy minds of this or any other era. When he's unleashed, Bob's a force like no other. Plus, any time we add a phrase to Urban Dictionary, we know we've done something right!

I still can't believe we got away with …

Keeping the appearances of Breaking Bad favorites Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) and the Cousins (Daniel Moncada and Luis Moncada) a secret until the episodes aired. We're so very lucky that folks pay close attention to our show, but all that love means that we have to be extra careful to try to keep the surprises under wraps. The whole cast and crew got involved, using code names for the characters on the call sheets, booking travel for the actors under pseudonyms and creating cover stories to explain what they were doing in New Mexico. Mark Margolis' big entrance as the indelible Hector (and getting to see him walk and talk — in English!) made it all worth the time and effort.

If I could convince anyone in the world to give my Emmy speech for me, I'd choose …

T.J. Miller, in character as Silicon Valley's Erlich Bachman. Bachman is an inspirational public speaker to rival JFK and the most brilliant frontman since Steve Jobs — he'll tell you so himself. The idea of speaking in front of millions might cause some of us to break out in a drenching sweat, but for Bachman? No problem! I'll happily stand by while Bachman dominates the show with pure, bigger-than-life ego.

My Emmy night ritual

Watching the lovely Christine Kobzeff's YouTube tutorial on how to tie a half- Windsor. This is the truth, I swear.


Seasons: 7 on AMC
Executive producers: Melissa Bernstein, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Emmy history: 10 nominations, 0 wins
2016 Awards: AFI Award for TV program of the year; Golden Nymph for best TV comedy at the Monte Carlo TV Festival
Unexpected Plot Twist: Breaking Bad favorite Hector Salamanca appeared upright and talking, in a time before he was rendered mute and confined to a wheelchair.
Fun fact: The sound editor came across a series of pig squeals (without harming animals!) and used them in scenes where legs are broken.

This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.