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Better Call Saul — AMC’s Breaking Bad prequel spin-off focusing on how slippery Jimmy McGill became corrupt Saul Goodman— has firmly established an identity apart from the mother meth ship over the last three seasons, but it hasn’t cut all family ties. Far from it, actually. Bad characters have joined the cast full-time (Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus), appeared in significant story lines (Mark Margolis’ Hector), helped to set up plot to come in Breaking Bad (Laura Fraser’s Lydia) or simply made for entertaining cameos (Kyle Bornheimer’s Ken). And creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have indicated that more Bad characters will be getting the Call in the future.
But it’s hard to argue that the two most anticipated guests wouldn’t be the meth-making duo of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Both actors have said in the past that that they are open to reprising their roles on Saul. (Being that he is presumably alive, Jesse seems to have one more point of entry than Walt, as he also could cross paths with Jimmy’s other alter ego, Gene, in the events taking place after the Breaking Bad finale.) As the show inches closer to the Bad timeline, are these two more inclined to head back to Albuquerque and film a few new scenes for old times’ sake?
EW posed this question to Cranston and Paul — as well as Gilligan, who created Breaking Bad — when the cast reunited to celebrate the 10th anniversary for this week’s cover story. “My attitude towards it is the same I had from when Better Call Saul first started,” Paul says. “If Vince decided to put Jesse in Better Call Saul, it’s going to be for a reason, and that reason’s going to be very satisfying for me. I trust in Vince. I don’t think he would just do that to satisfy the fans. It would have a purpose, and whether or not he decides to find that purpose or searches for the purpose, I don’t know. But if he does find that purpose, I’m happy to jump on board.”
Cranston seems to be on that same page of possibility. “If he asked, I would just say yes,” says the actor, who notes that he has a “couple of ideas” that he will pitch to Gilligan and Saul co-creator Peter Gould. “[Vince] takes such meticulous care of his characters and the story, and he changed our lives. ‘Yes’ is the answer. Even if it’s just a brush-by. A quick little something. We’ve come to know people who we’ve seen before but we don’t know that we’ve seen them before, because we were in the store and we just passed by them. Or we might even have a word or two. ‘Oh no, please go ahead.’ ‘Thank you for holding the door.’ And then five years later, you would never remember that. So something as minuscule as that could be very interesting in the fabric of the whole thing.” He adds: “We have those kind of encounters every day, and I think that would be fun for the audience — and the most honest.”
Both Paul and Cranston say that it was surreal to watch the show go on without them in a way, as Better Call Saul launched in 2015, two years after the end of Breaking Bad. Turning to Cranston, Paul reminds him of Saul’s season 1 premiere party. “You and I kind of ducked behind the red carpet — it was their night,” he tells him. “I remember watching it and seeing all of my old friends all together, and then a lot of them onscreen as well, and thinking quite a lot that I was not up there with them. I’m a huge fan of Better Call Saul and now just more and more characters are revealing themselves.”
“Have you visited the set yet?” Cranston asks Paul.
“No,” answers Paul. “I absolutely do plan [to].”
“I have,” continues Cranston, who dropped by during the filming of season 3. “It’s so emotional. Because everywhere you turn you’re seeing someone you know. And we love the show too. There’s something about watching Saul that has a sense of familiarity to it, and thematically the milieu of it, and yet it’s completely different. It’s almost like going to your high school reunion after 20 years. You go, “Oh, I think I know them!’ But they’re in different positions and things are happening that’s very different! It’s really cool.”
“Everyone went nuts” when Cranston showed up on set, says Gilligan, adding, “You could hear the buzz go through the building.” And the show’s co-creator aims to convert Cranston’s next set visit — and Paul’s first visit — into an on-camera appearance. “I desperately want to see both of them on Better Call Saul,” he tells EW. “Peter wants it, the writers do, the actors do.”
Gilligan believes that enough time has passed — and so much anticipation has built — that a brush-by may not quite do the trick. “[I]t wouldn’t feel as satisfying if it was just a cameo or an Alfred Hitchcock walkthrough,” he says. “I think we’ve waited long enough. We damn well better have a good reason for them to show up. I just hope we figure it out because I’ve got to hear, ‘Yeah, bitch!’ one more time.”
Better Call Saul returns to AMC for season 4 on Aug. 6. Production on season 4 recently wrapped, so it may be a while before you see Walt and/or Jesse in a Better place, but in the meantime, feel free to do some Blue Sky dreaming.
How did Cranston & Co. feel about reuniting for EW’s cover story? Find out here.
Tread not-so-lightly over here to check out the gallery from the big Bad photo shoot.