With just under a month to go before the launch of ‘Breaking Bad’ prequel ‘Better Call Saul’, creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould and lead actor Bob Odenkirk have spoken to Variety about their hopes for the new show and how they came up with the idea.

Set in 2002, the series focusses on Saul Goodman before he came ‘Saul Goodman’, when he was still named Jimmy McGill. Bob Odenkirk reprises his role as the shady lawyer, and it is also set to feature his private investigator Mike Ehrmantraut (played again by Jonathan Banks).

Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk will return as Saul Goodman in 'Better Call Saul' next month on AMC

But according to Gilligan, Saul’s character was originally conceived as merely a one-off that unexpectedly exploded in popularity. “Sometimes you come up with characters, and you don’t know how they’re going to play. But very quickly with Bob playing Saul Goodman, we saw all kinds of possibilities.”

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Odenkirk recalls a sounding-out of a spin-off even as ‘Breaking Bad’ was coming to a close. “Whenever I’d see Vince and Peter, they’d say, ‘Do you think there’s a show there?’. And I’d say, ‘Don’t ask the actor. An actor is just going to say yes every time.’”

The first idea apparently was for a half-hour comedy show series, but that mutated into a dramatic narrative that would explain how the character of Saul Goodman came to be. “It was hard-fought,” Gilligan says in the interview, “but it dawned on us, it really is more about the guy who is going to become Saul Goodman. He’s a striver, he’s an underdog, and he’s heroic in his own cockeyed manner.”

Everybody involved is aware of the stakes. Having only ended in 2013, ‘Breaking Bad’ is already up there with the television greats, so the pressure is on for the spin-off to perform well in both viewing figures and critical reception. ‘Better Call Saul’ is set to air on February 8th on AMC, the cable network that was home to ‘Breaking Bad’.

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