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Bob Odenkirk's Biggest Struggle With Playing Saul Goodman On Better Call Saul

The sixth and final season of "Better Call Saul" is coming to a close. It's now been over half a decade since Bob Odenkirk first stepped back into the role of Saul Goodman aka Jimmy McGill for the debut season of Vince Gilligan's now-iconic "Breaking Bad" prequel series. And all this time, Odenkirk has apparently struggled with something.

You see, on "Breaking Bad," the Saul Goodman that viewers came to know and love wasn't the same person that true "Better Call Saul" fans and Odenkirk, himself, have grown with the past six seasons. The character's immaturity is less heightened in "Better Call Saul," with McGill's Goodman persona not becoming a full-on legal act until Season 5. While he's always made questionable choices and decisions throughout the series, Odenkirk's McGill/Goodman is someone who tries to do the right thing and struggles with his conscience more than what we saw in "Breaking Bad." He's ultimately more likable and kindhearted in "Better Call Saul" as a result. Because of this, Odenkirk has always had a major problem playing the character as his time on the show goes on.

Bob Odenkirk struggles with Saul Goodman's bad choices

The evolution of Saul Goodman is ultimately the most challenging thing Bob Odenkirk has to deal with when playing the character in "Better Call Saul," the actor says — especially when you want him to make good choices and know he simply can't.

"The hardest thing to play is the immaturity of the character," Odenkirk explained in a 2020 Actor Roundtable discussion for The Hollywood Reporter. "It's weird, but you start to become a champion of your character, no matter who they are, and you want them to make the right, the best, and healthiest choice. That doesn't work out with Saul."

Odenkirk's relationship with the Saul Goodman character was one that didn't initially get off on the right foot, with him admitting in interviews that he never liked his portrayal on "Breaking Bad" as the sleazy strip mall lawyer who appeared in TV commercials. "He wanted to present himself that way," Odenkirk explained on the "Sunday Sitdown with Willie Geist" podcast back in March 2022 (via CheatSheet). "He wanted to attract a certain clientele that would like that. That guy, Saul Goodman, I don't like. I don't like people who operate with situational ethics, whatever that's to my advantage in the moment, that's my ethic. I don't like people like that. So I didn't love this guy. It was fun to play him in 'Breaking Bad' but I didn't like him." 

It wasn't until Odenkirk got to portray the real side of Goodman aka Jimmy McGill that the part truly started growing on him — to the point where Odenkirk was calling the show's creators and asking them to reconsider Saul's fall from grace. 

Odenkirk wanted to turn Saul Goodman into a good guy

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Bob Odenkirk explained how he would often call Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould while making "Better Call Saul" to see if they would possibly have a change of heart about Saul Goodman's character choices as the series went on. 

"I've done this and it's embarrassing," Odenkirk said, remembering how he would call up the pair and ask, "Can he just be a good guy or can he make a better choice?" With the answer, of course, being no. "You start to like the guy, and you want him to learn the right lessons from his experience, but that's not the story that they are telling," Odenkirk explained. "For me, playing the character has been a chance to think about my own short-sightedness in life and immaturity and impetuousness that is really a big part of who that character is."