Back in 2009, Bob Odenkirk — who plays Saul Goodman on both Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul — signed on to only make four episodes of Breaking Bad, beginning with the episode “Better Call Saul.”
He was so popular, of course, that Saul Goodman continued to appear on Breaking Bad and eventually Better Call Saul, where he co-stars with Jonathan Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut. Though Banks and Odenkirk don’t actually share that much screentime, the two characters are not only inextricably linked, but Mike Ehrmantraut probably wouldn’t even exist (and in turn, neither would Better Call Saul) were it not for a scheduling conflict on Bob Odenkirk’s part.
That’s because, in addition to being scheduled for four episodes of Breaking Bad in 2009, Odenkirk was also scheduled for a run of episodes on How I Met Your Mother, where he played Marshall’s boss, Arthur Hobbs. In fact, because of that commitment to How I Met Your Mother, Odenkirk couldn’t do the fourth episode for which he was originally set to appear, so they had to create a new character to fill that void. That character? Mike Ehrmentraut.
“So he owes you, like, 10 percent of his money, right?” Michael Rosenbaum joked with Odenkirk on the Inside of You podcast. “No,” Odenkirk joked back. “I owe him.”
Indeed, Odenkirk has a lot of respect for Jonathan Banks, although he also does one hell of an impression of the famously grumpy actor. “He’s just a f**king tank. He’s one of these guys, one of these great, lifetime actors who has spent his whole life acting the sh*t out of everything.”
That said, Odenkirk admits that Jonathan Banks will “bite you down,” and he’s seen it “many times” on the set of the two shows, though Odenkirk also seems a little envious that Banks has had a little more freedom in the way he delivers lines. “He has less purity toward the lines than I do,” Odenkirk explains. “Partly that might be because his character is more straightforward than Saul. A lot of times my lines are written in a sort of weird, circuitous way that need to be said that way.”
Banks’ lines, however, can change them up a little because it wouldn’t change anything. “He’s just telling people to f**k off, I’m not doing this, or I’m not doing that. He’s a more straightforward character.”
As for Odenkirk’s time on How I Met Your Mother, he has an interesting memory of the place. “Everyone was smiling, and they read their scripts and laughed, and they clapped at the end of the table read, and I was like ‘What the f**k is going on here? Is there someone here that you’re doing a show for?'”
“The more I did the show, the more I realized,” Odenkirk continued, “that they like each other. They liked the show they were on, and they liked each other. That was so weird. It was so f*cking weird. They were so happy. I couldn’t even conceive of it. They were really thankful to be doing this show, years in. It didn’t seem real, but it was.”
“And isn’t that the way it should be,” Odenkirk added, before suggesting that the other person that he saw who actually seemed to enjoy his job, and his life, was Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live.