This should help “Breaking Bad” fans handle upcoming withdrawal symptoms: The long-rumored Saul Goodman spinoff is a go.
AMC and Sony Pictures Television confirmed Wednesday that they’ve reached a licensing agreement for a series based on “Breaking Bad’s” popular Saul Goodman character, played to perfection by Naperville native Bob Odenkirk.
Operating under the working title “Better Call Saul,” it’s planned to be an hour-long prequel focusing on the shady lawyer’s evolution before he became Walter White’s attorney. (In other words, Saul could still be offed before “Breaking Bad” ends its five-season run Sept. 29.)
Odenkirk talked to me about the spinoff over the summer, before it was a done deal. At that time, he had his fingers crossed.
“If it happens I will be there, ready to rock,” Odenkirk, 50, said. “This is such a gift to me, this role, and being a part of this amazing show. I think I was meant to play him.”
Odenkirk joined the “Breaking Bad” cast in the AMC series’ second season. He was an instant classic as Goodman, an Albuquerque attorney/fixer with extremely questionable ethics, cheesy advertising and a memorable tagline: “Better Call Saul.” Saul quickly became a fan favorite, providing much of the show’s comic relief. (Exhibit A: the video below.)
Odenkirk cut his comedic chops in Chicago, where he moved to pursue sketch comedy acting and writing after bouncing around a bunch of Midwestern colleges. He graduated early from Naperville North High School at age 16 and went to College of DuPage for a year. He transferred to Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he started to dabble in comedy.
“Then I looked for a school where I’d have more colorful characters around me — SIU [Southern Illinois University] seemed to fit the bill,” said Odenkirk, who graduated from the Carbondale institution with a degree in broadcasting.
“I kind of did very well as SIU because I was sober,” he said. “I didn’t drink any alcohol because I didn’t like it and my father had an issue with it.”
Odenkirk has given quite a bit of thought to Saul’s backstory, which, like his own, begins in Chicago.
“When I think about who Saul is, I think he grew up in Chicago — might be the South Side. Or it could be Downers Grove or all the way in Cicero,” he said, adding that “I know Downers and Cicero are very different places.”
He thinks Saul left Chicago “because he wanted to take advantage of all the lightweights in the Southwest. You know how Chicago people get West Coast people as a bunch of flighty lightweights that would be very easy to steamroll.”
So how about setting the spinoff in Chicago?
“I don’t know if the spinoff needs to be set there but I would do that,” the actor said. “He has to go back there to visit his dad who’s in prison. That’s all my idea, by the way, not Vince’s [‘Breaking Bad’ creator Vince Gilligan]. I’m making that up.”