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[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Monday’s episode of Better Call Saul, “Alpine Shepherd Boy.”]
Chuck (Michael McKean) is finally out of the house.
Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk)’s reclusive brother took a trip to the hospital after police kicked in his door, exposing him to those dreaded electromagnetic rays. He ended up in a catatonic state, coming to after Jimmy came to his rescue and turned off his devices. But there’s a twist. Chuck’s doctor played a trick on him, switching on an electronic device without him knowing. He displayed no pain, suggesting a psychological component to his illness (Saul writer Bradley Paul weighs in on that here).
See more ‘Better Call Saul’: See ‘Breaking Bad’ Easter Eggs You Missed
Chuck has quickly become the emotional heart of Saul as the concerned older brother who is Jimmy’s main reason for not returning to his Slippin’ Jimmy ways. Saul co-showrunners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have teased Chuck’s possible demise, pointing out that viewers must be asking themselves where Chuck and Jimmy’s love interest, Kim, (Rhea Seehorn) were during Breaking Bad. The showrunners have a history of killing off a lot of characters, but so far Saul has been (relatively) blood-free.
In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, McKean shared his thoughts on Saul possibly having a Red Wedding in its future, Chuck’s illness, and what running around Albuquerque with a space blanket on is like.
What was the toughest scene this episode?
The one with all the talking in it. There were four actors in the room, all of whom had a ton to say. It was four actors talking their asses off. When you really have to cover everybody looking at everybody and do the scene that way, its’ a long day.
See more ‘Breaking Bad’: 25 Most Badass Quotes
And I just had to stay chained to the damn bed, so it wasn’t the most physically taxing I’d ever done. But it’s not relaxing to be chained to something. Unless that’s what you’re into. It’s not for me though.
What does that trick of the doctor say about Chuck’s illness?
I don’t see the trick she plays. I’m the one she plays the trick on, so I can’t really address it. Seriously.
Where does Chuck go after this?
I’m not going to tell you that. No, no, no. Let’s just say, wherever you think it’s going to go — you’re right and you’re wrong. That’s all I can say.
What do you think about the storytelling on this show?
They want to write so people get shaken. I don’t think there are any Red Weddings in our future, but you’ve always got to remember the stakes are very high, even when it seems like we’re doing breezier stuff. There are times in this show where it has the rhythms of a comedy. But it’s hopefully no less real when that happens, that it’s all real.
Read more ‘Better Call Saul’ Writer on Mike Cliffhanger, Chuck’s Future
There might not be Red Weddings, but Vince and Peter have said you have to worry about Chuck and Kim.
That’s right. But listen, there’s also this. You don’t know, maybe one day Kim just said “f—k this,” I’m going to move to San Diego. It’s sunny there too, and it’s got an ocean. And she’s a smart girl and she’ll be fine, or not. Who knows. Corruption is absolute in some cases. But we don’t know how corrupt she is, if at all.
You had an incident that put you in contact with injured people. Did that inform the creation of Chuck?
I did have an experience a few years ago where I was injured and did some recovery along with people who were worse than me. But I don’t think I took anything from life there. I would use my own life more than a life I would observe, because you make judgments on those things. You see somebody who’s in rough shape and you think, “God bless them,” or “More power to them.” Those admiring things, that already colors the personality, and you can’t do that if you’re already playing it from the inside. You can’t start by playing “I’m going to play a guy who’s a hero in his own life!” Because nobody does that. Nobody wakes up and asks how they can be a hero in their own life, any more than villainous people wake up in the morning and say, “How can I be villainous?”
See more ‘Breaking Bad’: 20 Most Shocking Deaths
What did Vince Gilligan and Peter tell you about Chuck early on?
Very little. Very little. I had worked with Gilligan before, and I was a big Breaking Bad fan, so what’s not to like? I knew whatever it was, it was going to be playable. There’s this character I did on X-Files named Morris Fletcher. He was a man in black. He and Moulder exchanged personalities — I’m not going to recap this plot, it’s insane — but it was not just “Oh yeah, you’re this weird guy who everyone thinks is Moulder.” It was a real conflict about a guy who was in a lousy marriage. It was a playable human being. It wasn’t just a boogie man. I knew whatever they wrote there would be a real purpose in it.
Many Better Call Saul stars have said they are a bit starstruck to be on the show. But Vince and Bob are big fans of yours from Spinal Tap. Do they pick your brain about that?
In general, people who like that film like to talk about it. Everybody gets around to it, which is fine. I’m not sensitive about it. I concur with most of the positive feelings about the film. I wasn’t in Troll 2. That’s not what they want to talk about. I’m not knocking it, it’s a terrible movie, but they love being terrible.
Watch more Vince Gilligan Tackles Four ‘Breaking Bad’ Myths
It was hot that day. And it’s a lot hotter when you’re under a space blanket and running. I wouldn’t say it was pleasant, but it was fun. Every now and then on a movie set, people look at each other and go, “Who else makes a living this way?”
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