Bob Odenkirk Now Gets Why James Gandolfini Was Ready to Leave Tony Soprano Behind

Odenkirk talks relating to actors like Gandolfini and Bryan Cranston, who played dark characters, and also details his heart attack last summer.
Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 4, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
"Better Call Saul"
Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

After filming six seasons of “Better Call Saul,” Bob Odenkirk is ready to part ways with his iconic sleazy attorney alter ego.

The “Breaking Bad” spinoff concludes later this year, and while Odenkirk described moving on from the role as “challenging,” he also admitted there is a sense of freedom to it.

“I always used to scoff and roll my eyes at actors who say, ‘It’s so hard.’ Really? It can’t be,” Odenkirk told The New York Times of taking on a dramatic role. “[But] the truth is that you use your emotions, and you use your memories, you use your hurt feelings and losses, and you manipulate them, dig into them, dwell on them. A normal adult doesn’t walk around doing that, going, ‘What was the worst feeling of abandonment I’ve had in my life? Let me just gaze at that for the next week and a half, because that’s going to fuel me.'”

Odenkirk added, “It gave me great sympathy for someone like James Gandolfini, who talked about how he couldn’t wait to be done with that character, and I think Bryan [Cranston] said similar things: ‘I can’t wait to leave this guy behind.’ I finally related to that attitude.”

The Emmy nominee opted to live with fellow “Better Call Saul” cast members to alleviate the isolation he felt during filming. “It’s about loneliness,” Odenkirk described, comparing the setup to living “on an oil rig.”

However, the show has “been the biggest thing” in Odenkirk’s life. “It’s emotional to say goodbye to it, and to all these people I’ve been working with for so many years,” he said. “I guess people who work on, you know, ‘N.C.I.S.’ would say the same thing. But would they mean it?”

Odenkirk also suffered a heart attack while on set last summer. The actor knew since 2018 that he had plaque buildup in his heart, and collapsed in July 2021 after a full day of filming.

“One of those pieces of plaque broke up,” Odenkirk said. “Luckily I didn’t go back to my trailer. I went to play the Cubs game and ride my workout bike, and I just went down.”

“Better Call Saul” health safety supervisor, Rosa Estrada, and assistant director, Angie Meyer, administered CPR and hooked Odenkirk up to an automated defibrillator. It took three tries to “get that rhythm back” in his heart.

“Around 5 a.m. the next morning they went through right here [on my wrist] and blew up the little balloons and knocked out that plaque and left stents in two places,” Odenkirk recalled.

As for what’s next after “Saul,” he is set to team up with former “Mr. Show” co-creator David Cross for docu-style comedy, “Guru Nation.” Plus, Odenkirk is eying a “Nobody” film trilogy.

Until then, though, he said, “I want to stay under the radar and get to be this guy who gets to go over here and then gets to go over there. Because some of these things I’ve done feel opposed. They don’t live in the same Venn diagram. But I think that’s cool.”

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.