It took Robert Forster the sum of one episode to enter Breaking Bad lore. The beloved character actor guest-starred in the penultimate installment of AMC’s acclaimed drug drama as Ed the Disappearer, the meticulous vacuum store owner who provided Walt (Bryan Cranston) safe passage to New Hampshire — and for Saul (Bob Odenkirk) to Nebraska — turning into an instant fan favorite.
In a most pleasant surprise, Ed resurfaced in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, this time helping Jesse (Aaron Paul) reach Alaska. Unfortunately, Forster was unable to receive the praise for his return performance, as the 78-year-old actor — who also starred in Jackie Brown and on Twin Peaks — passed away after a battle with brain cancer on the day that Netflix released El Camino. As AMC prepares to air the film on its own network on Feb. 16 at 8 p.m., the network is releasing an in-house interview that was conducted with Forster. In the two-minute segment filmed on the set, Forster addressed his brief-but-resonant Bad connection. “People come up to me frequently and say, ‘Breaking Bad!’ and I was only in one episode,” he said. “It has been a colossal thing in my career. I’ve had a couple other good things as well, but Breaking Bad is one of the great things.”
He is typically gracious while talking about the focus of the movie. “Aaron is the big star in this production,” he said, “and I am delighted that he is getting a story of his own.” He’s also humble in discussing the craft of acting: “You hope that on the next take that you incorporate everything good that you did already with anything new that might be asked of you.”) Forster concluded by noting, “It’s been a good day.”
You will get one more good day with Forster, as El Camino writer-director Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, (who co-created Better Call Saul with Gilligan) secretly signed him up for double duty. The Saul producers recently revealed that during the shoot, Forster also filmed a guest spot for the Breaking Bad prequel, giving fans one final opportunity to bid farewell to the Disappearer.
Gilligan praised Forster in the wake of his death, explaining to EW, “He’s the guy you count on. I think Robert was that person in real life, and what he brings to the character of Ed… but you just innately believe this guy will be able to help you. You believe he is competent to the point of mastery, that he’s going to pull this thing off, this very difficult disappearing act that Walter White and Saul Goodman and then Jesse Pinkman need to avail themselves of. With Robert, I can’t think of many who were at his level as an actor. And he always made it look so easy.”
Season 5 of Better Call Saul debuts Feb. 23 at 10 p.m.