Sorry, Breaking Bad fans. "Walt and Jesse will not appear in Season 1 [of the upcoming prequel series Better Call Saul]," co-showrunner Peter Gould said at the Television Critics Association winter previews on Saturday.
That's not to say there won't be plenty of callbacks to Breaking Bad when Better Call Saul makes its two-night premiere beginning Sunday, Feb. 8 at 10/9c on AMC. "The sky's the limit," co-showrunner Vince Gilligan said. "Any characters could conceivably show up in future seasons... but if it feels like a stunt, we've done something horribly wrong."
Better Call Saul stars Bob Odenkirk reprising his role as the shady lawyer Jimmy McGill before he was known as Saul Goodman. The show takes place six years before the events depicted on Breaking Bad, and therefore, many characters who died on that show are still alive. Case in point is Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), whom viewers first met as a private investigator, head of security, cleaner and hitman. On Better Call Saul, however, Mike and Jimmy have not yet started working together.
Check out more scoop and highlights from the panel:
Pre-Saul Goodman "I had to rethink him," Odenkirk said about playing Jimmy McGill. "He's a different guy, a far more dimensional character than Saul Goodman was on Breaking Bad. He's got slippery ethics." Gilligan added, "He wants to be good... but why does he want to be good?"
A colorless, silent future Better Call Saul's opening scene flips the rules of filmmaking on its head. The sequence is a black-and-white, completely silent flash-forward. Only once we go to the past, when Better Call Saul takes place, does the screen switch to color. "If everyone else does it one way, I guess we're somewhat contrarian in that we like showing people stuff they haven't seen before," Gilligan said. Gould added, "We see it as a movie. We think of television as an illustrated radio... We shot that sequence in color and then drained the color out of it. Ultimately, it just felt right."
Birth of a talker We learn that Jimmy's birthplace is Cicero, Ind., which Gilligan acknowledges is where Al Capone is from but also points out that Cicero was a Roman orator. "The guy was known for his mouth," he said, drawing a parallel to Jimmy's gift of gab.
Returning to Mike Banks was straightforward about reprising his role: "I am still discovering Mike and try to be true to Mike and not do him an injustice."
Timelines Gould said, "We have given ourselves the freedom of going back and forth in time." Gilligan points out, however that on Breaking Bad, "Walter White had a very existential and immediate problem [cancer], that by necessity accelerated storytelling." That's not the case with Jimmy McGill, although Odenkirk joked, "Saul could be disbarred at any moment. That's the threat."
Badass Nacho Michael Mando, who also played sad-sack tough guy Vic on Orphan Black, plays Nacho on Better Call Saul. His hypothetical comparison on the two characters: "Vic constantly calls Nacho's phone, and Nacho doesn't answer. That's how badass he is. He's like a young crocodile who wants to feed because he wants to grow and be king of the pond." The showrunners describe Nacho as a smart, ambitious, pragmatic and cold-blooded criminal.
Exploring Albuquerque The setting is the same as in Breaking Bad, but Gould said, "There's more location work on this show [because] Jimmy is peripatetic. He has a touch of Philip Marlowe, who doesn't spend much time in his office."
Better Call Saul's two-night premiere airs on Sunday and Monday, Feb. 8 and 9 at 10/9c on AMC.
On the Set of Outlander: How well does the cast know Scottish culture?