‘Better Call Saul’: Bob Odenkirk Says It’s Harder to Play Jimmy McGill Than Saul Goodman

Better Call Saul is the prequel series Breaking Bad fans were longing for. After Heisenberg’s reign came to an end, fans were introduced to Jimmy McGill, the small-time lawyer who would transform into Saul Goodman from the original series. 

Bob Odenkirk, the actor who portrays Jimmy/Saul, spoke with Variety about playing both parts and admitted that the role of Jimmy McGill presented more challenges than playing Saul Goodman. 

Jimmy McGill is a challenge for Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk | John Lamparski/Getty Images

Jimmy McGill becomes Saul Goodman

Better Call Saul has given Breaking Bad fans a glimpse at Saul’s life before and after Walter White’s career as Heisenberg.  

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Prior to Breaking Bad’s timeline, Saul lived as Jimmy McGill, a former con-man turned lawyer who desperately sought the approval of his successful older brother, Chuck. To appease his brother, Jimmy started his law career helping the elderly fight for what they deserve. However, much to Chuck’s disappointment, Jimmy bends the rules and makes a name for himself as a kind-of crooked Albuquerque lawyer. After his brother’s suicide, Jimmy chooses to operate as Saul Goodman and switches his focus to criminal law. 

Saul Goodman becomes Gene Takavic

After Heisenberg is taken down in Breaking Bad, Saul is forced to leave town to prevent his being arrested or killed for his involvement in the drug trade. With the help of Ed Galbraith — better known as the Disappearer — and his make-shift witness protection program, Saul starts a new life in Omaha, Nebraska as Gene Takavic. 

Fondly referred to as Cinnabon Gene, Better Call Saul has given fans glimpses of Saul’s life as Gene, revealing instances where people have identified him by his former moniker. There was the cab driver who recognized Gene as Saul Goodman, and then an Albuquerque native who begged Gene to mimic Saul’s old commercials. 

After being identified for a second time, Gene called Ed (the late Robert Forster), who created the new persona for Saul and asked for a new identity but then reconsidered. With a sixth and final season of Better Call Saul confirmed, fans are excited to see how the rest of Cinnabon Gene’s story plays out. 

Jimmy McGill is a more challenging role for Bob Odenkirk

Odenkirk said playing Jimmy is more of a challenge than playing Saul. Perhaps that’s because there’s a particular affinity for the comedic moments Odenkirk created with Saul throughout Breaking Bad. Odenkirk said “Jimmy is harder to play, but Jimmy is more rewarding to play. Saul is an effort, but he’s a performance.” 

During his interview, Odenkirk also talked about his favorite scenes from Better Call Saul. He admitted his favorite ones to film are the scenes that feature the college film crew played by Josh Fadem, Hayley Holmes, and Julian Bonfiglio. Odenkirk is also quite fond of the “squat cobbler” con from season two. 

When asked whether or not Gene has any “Jimmy” left in him, Odenkirk said, ” “Not much, but some. I hope that that part of Jimmy that’s still inside of Gene is the part that will come through in the end and maybe save him, make his life whole again.”

As season five of Better Call Saul wraps up, fans are hopeful that more of Gene’s story will come to light.