It’s almost too easy for an IMDb user to edit a star’s profile, which is perhaps why Bob Odenkirk’s IMDb biography page features three weird “trademarks” for the actor and filmmaker, including one that gets to the heart of his comedic appeal: “Frequently plays foolish but extremely confident characters.” The actor has spent the better part of the past decade playing that exact archetype, thanks to his turn as smarmy lawyer Saul Goodman (aka the less-smarmy Jimmy McGill) on “Breaking Bad” and its spinoff “Better Call Saul.”
No surprise that it has rubbed off on his other roles, including his voice work on “The Incredibles 2,” which came to market fast enough to feel like a natural extension of his best-known character. Because of a release date swap with “Toy Story 4,” “Incredibles 2” is hitting theaters more a year before its planned June 2019 release date. Even with that added pressure, Odenkirk says that characters like Odenkirk’s superhero-obsessed Winston Deavor were still able to evolve during production.
“He changed more than I expected,” Odenkirk said. “I know that the movie was done in a shorter amount of time because they had more confidence in the story. Brad had confidence in the story that he had. Pixar usually takes more time than this. It felt like a fairly long time to me, but they were like, ‘This is a rush job for us because we believe in it.'”
Odenkirk worked on the film for over a year, taking turns in the recording studio while also working on the much-anticipated fourth season of “Better Call Saul.”
While Odenkirk has easily slipped into the role of “Slippin’ Jimmy” on his AMC shows, he subverts that stereotype in “Incredibles 2.” Brad Bird’s film finds Odenkirk voicing the exuberant Winston Deavor, who offers the struggling Parr family (including Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack) the chance to change the public perception of superheroes. Still, marketing for the film has played up Odenkirk’s outsized persona, and when IndieWire asked the actor about his supposed “trademark,” he drew a direct line to his new animated gig.
“Most comedy is foolish, but extremely confident,” Odenkirk said. “At least in this case, my character is not that foolish, but he’s extremely upbeat and exuberant. I thought that was neat, [here’s] a character who’s a little more guileless and earnest. He sounds like a salesman, but he means everything he says.”
Initial introductions to Winston lean into those salesman tendencies, as the multimillionaire superhero admirer appears just when things are looking pretty bad for the Parrs. After the events of “The Incredibles,” superheroes are still illegal, and that’s a tough ask for an entire family of mutants who want nothing more than to use their skills to help humanity.
The film opens with the Parrs doing just that, but when it leads to inevitable upheaval, Winston appears on the scene with a proposition: let him, his big company, and his talented sister (voiced by Catherine Keener) rehab the superhero brand to the point that the government will welcome them back with open arms.
And yes, he seems a bit slimy at first, before revealing himself as the exuberant innocent that Odenkirk was eager to play. That changed during the course of the film’s fast-tracked production, and Odenkirk couldn’t be happier that Winston emerged as a real sweetheart after initially being imagined as the kind of untrustworthy type he already excels at playing.
“Well, without giving anything away, that’s the guy I got to play,” he said of the “nicer” Winston. “Of course, there are twists and turns, especially later on, but I was thrilled that it went that way. It kind of went that way in the course of Brad Bird’s rewrites. I feel like the character became more innocent the more Brad rewrote the script. … Brad evolved the story in some pretty important ways while we were doing the recording sessions that I did over the last year. He became more substantially positive and upbeat, and I love that about him.”
“Incredibles 2” opens in theaters on Friday, June 15.