“If you look at those old shows like 'The Rockford Files' or' Columbo', we didn’t know their personal lives, but they were kind of messy guys, all crumpled guys, and I think that makes for a sympathetic character.
“Now we want to know why they’re crumpled, we want to see the back side of their lives. People are doing some amazing work on TV, and audiences seem very happy to dig in and sink into another world that isn’t all solutions and balloons.”
Happy they are, indeed, with the ‘Breaking Bad’ spin-off breaking viewing figure records when it debuted last week in the States on AMC. UK viewers can keep up on Netflix, where the first series is being shown, one new episode every Tuesday (Episode 3 appears tomorrow morning).
The most surprised person by all of this is Bob Odenkirk himself, who wonders now at his own disbelief.
“I didn’t think we’d get anything like the ratings we got. Why did I think that?” He waves his hands in the air.
“They had those huge billboards, so the network must have believed in it, but for me, I was just thinking… we’re starting a new show, we’ll start small and build if we can… I don’t know why I thought that.
“I haven’t seen it, I’ve only seen two now, but I haven’t watched the show, so I’m going to watch it along with the audience, and hope they keep liking it. I’m just thankful.”
One thing Bob’s certain of is his own view, and it’s one shared by his character, of Walter White, that great departed anti-hero of ‘Breaking Bad’, a man who set out to do bad things for good ends, and got corrupted along the way.
“I don’t like Walter White, where he ended up,” says Bob, without hesitation. “I wish I did, but I don’t like that guy, and I think he made bad choices, and now I know Saul better, I think he would feel the same way.
“In this series, you will meet who Saul really is, and I do think he has a soul, and I think he passes judgement on himself and the people around him, and I don’t think Walter White would pass well. I remember that in ‘Breaking Bad’, Saul told him to quit while he was ahead, so even then he had a judgement on him.”
Bob is clearly fond of his small-screen alter ego, and reveals that his most endearing quality isn’t necessarily the smart patter and quiet scheming for which he has become so celebrated, but something else…
“I think that the character as we meet him in this is struggling to find his place in the world and he’s kind of failing in everything that he does, and I think that the really winning quality that he has is he doesn’t quit,” he ponders.
“I think that whatever people say about, oh he’s clever, he makes clever plans, he can talk, he can be funny, he can win an argument, all of that pales in comparison with the fact that he doesn’t give up.”
'Better Call Saul' Season 1 continues on Netflix. Episode 3 becomes available tomorrow.