Bob Odenkirk explains which episode he actually had heart attack on while filming Better Call Saul
It is widely known that Bob Odenkirk suffered a serious heart attack while filming an episode for the final season of Better Call Saul. It is also known that he made a spectacular recovery and was back filming five weeks later to finish the final episodes of AMC's Breaking Bad prequel that he anchors. And just last week, the Emmy-nominated actor revealed that it was the ninth episode of the season, "Fun and Games," in which the heart attack occurred.
But, as it turns out, that's not quite correct — and Odenkirk wants to set the record straight. The tragedy with a happy ending actually occurred during the filming of episode 8, "Point and Shoot," as the actor was working on the key scene in Jimmy's apartment when Lalo (Tony Dalton) lays out his chilling plans for Jimmy and Kim (Rhea Seehorn). When Odenkirk returned to action, instead of finishing off that scene from "Point and Shoot," he began work on scenes from "Fun and Games," which led to his mix-up. (It's also understandable, as he notes that he has no memory of that time period around the heart attack. In addition, the show does film some scenes out of sequence.)
"Episode 9 is all stuff we shot after my heart attack, and in fact it is the first stuff I shot," he tells EW. "The pick-up scenes [from episode 8] were not the first things we shot. So in my brain, I was like, 'Wait a second, the first things I shot when I came back from the heart attack was [episode] 9.' And that's true. Where I screwed up was like: 'Of course, we didn't come back and immediately just shoot what we were shooting that day — we carried on shooting.' We had a different director. We had Michael Morris directing. We started in on that stuff. And then at some point in shooting that stuff, we stopped, Vince [Gilligan, Saul co-creator who directed "Point and Shoot"] came back and we picked up the final moments of the scene with me and Lalo and Kim. My brain just had a brain fart and I apologize to the world.
"But if you're looking to compare a human being pre- and post- heart attack," he adds with a laugh, "you'll want to look at the scene with Kim and Jimmy, when Lalo was talking to them about the plan."
Odenkirk thinks that all of the concern and focus on his close call can carry another benefit. "I'll just say for the hundredth time —but I'll say it 500 more times in my life — it's so nice that everyone cares so much," he says with another laugh. "I thank people for caring about it and if any good can come of it, it can be other 50-plus-year-old people getting into see their doctor and maybe getting a double check on their heart."
Gilligan spoke about Odenkirk's collapse on the set while filming "Point and Shoot" in last week's installment of the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast. "We watched him die. I'd never seen anything like it, except for in a movie," said Gilligan. "When we got back on set with Bob, it was just happiness, it was just thankfulness, it was just gratitude."
The co-creator had finished helming Odenkirk and Seehorn's side of the conversation before the heart attack, and the scene was revisited two months later to film Dalton's side. "It was just so good to see Bob there," said Dalton. "We all saw him on the floor [after the heart attack] and it was like, 'Oh my God, dude.' Forget about the show. This is the worst thing that could ever happen to somebody. [Laughs] That's what happens when you mess with Lalo."
So, what was it like for Odenkirk to return to the set to film these pivotal scenes? "The impact of that incident with my heart is something that's resonated and continues to in my life. Like today. Like through time. I think about it all the time. I think about what matters to me and how to live my life and make the most of it and value each day the most. But the crew and the cast were really devastated by the incident because they were very present consciously and I was not. I was unconscious. So for me to come back, they were extremely sensitive. Everyone was very emotional and sweet and kind — and a little too concerned. [Laughs] Very worried about everything that I did... It was kind of funny and sweet and touching. And you could see it in everyone's eyes. They were all looking at me like, 'Is he really okay? Is he going to be all right?' And the truth was, I was still recuperating. My stamina came back a little more every week."
Odenkirk's most frequent scene partner was certainly thrilled to welcome him back. "You can't get away from the joy and the emotion you feel about one of my closest and dearest friends being alive," Seehorn told EW. "It's like one of the worst days of my life was followed by one of the best days of my entire life — that he was fine, that he was okay," she says. "But at the same time, he and I care so deeply about and respect the work that we need to do so much. He came back really feeling like he didn't want to hold the crew back anymore. We'd been shooting for almost a year and it was important to him to [say], 'Let's do the work, and let's kind of take a break from the overwhelming feeling of what just happened.' It wasn't about ignoring it. It was actually lovely to just get back to doing Kim and Jimmy — and back to something that he and I both love working on."
Odenkirk had much more to say about the pivotal "Fun and Games" over here, including his take on the fallout from Kim's devastating decisions and what awaits in the final few episodes.
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