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“This is a very specific character with specific drives and hopes and dreams and challenges,” said Bob Odenkirk, who stars as Jimmy McGill, the attorney who eventually changes his name to Saul Goodman and becomes the criminal lawyer Breaking Bad fans know and love.
Co-showrunner Vince Gilligan said Breaking Bad fans tuning in might get a different flavor, but one he hopes they will like.
“I’m hoping people role with it,” he said .
Co-showrunner Peter Gould, who created the character Saul Goodman for Breaking Bad, added the show presents a new set of challenges for the writers than Walter White (Bryan Cranston) did.
“Jimmy McGill is a different guy. He is a classic underdog. He’s certainly somebody who gets beaten up by the world, but he does not have a terminal disease,” said Gould, referencing Walt’s cancer. “He has a different set of problems in the world, and it just makes for a different, somewhat lighter tone.”
Walter White might not be in Better Call Saul, but he made a surprise appearance to the show’s premiere. Cranston drew cheers when he attempted to make a low-key entrance. Other Breaking Bad alums who showed up included Dean Norris, who fielded cries of “Hank!”, while Betsy Brandt (Marie) and R.J. Mitte (Walt Jr.) also supported the Saul team, as did former Bad producer Moira Walley-Beckett, now the creator of the upcoming Starz limited series Flesh and Bone. Aaron Paul (Jesse) snapped selfies with Gilligan and Odenkirk at the afterparty at The Ritz-Carlton.
In Saul, Michael McKean plays the dutiful older brother to Jimmy, who is in recent years has come down with a debilitating illness.
“It’s a very complex relationship — two brothers,” said McKean. “In this case, suddenly the older brother ain’t so good at taking care of himself anymore. It’s a beautiful setup. It’s very Vince Gilligan.
Michael Mando, who plays Nacho, an up and comer in the criminal world whose life becomes entangled with Jimmy’s, said his character will do anything to achieve his goals.
“He’s so focused. He’s so ambitious,” said Mando. “The perfect image for me when I started playing him was a young crocodile who wants to feed so he can grow and become the king of the pond.”
Patrick Fabian’s character Howard Hamlin is an affluent attorney, who viewers are introduced to as an antagonist for Saul.
“Some people want to be him, and some people like Saul find that really annoying,” said Fabian.
One of the more mysterious characters in the series is Betsy Kettleman (Julie Ann Emery), who at first glance appears to be an average wife and mother, but has much more going on underneath. Emery said she initially was brought in for one episode, but that the role has grown to span much more than that.
“Betsy Kettleman lives in her own head space, and it is a very specific head space,” she teased.
The drama is getting a two-night series premiere at 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, and 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9. It will air on Mondays at 10 p.m. in subsequent weeks.
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