The star of Breaking Bad and the new Let's Do This on love, marriage, and Mr. Show groupies.
by Peter Malamud Smith
Bob Odenkirk plays corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman on AMC's Breaking Bad. He's also the creator and star of Let's Do This, a series pilot about Cal-Gold Productions, a low-budget film company located in a North Hollywood strip mall. The pilot is currently streaming on Adult Swim's website. Besides being funny, Bob Odenkirk is also generous, and wants you to know that a complete set of his friends' show Get A Life is finally coming out on DVD soon and you should check it out. Okay, let's do this.
What's the current status of Let's Do This?
Well, we made the pilot, and Adult Swim were their usual very cool selves, but I think they felt that the show we came up with was too story-oriented in ways that their audience doesn't really want — they just want to enjoy the episode and not have to remember who matters to who. But I asked Adult Swim to run it online and they said sure, and I think the amount of press and attention that it got is an encouraging sign.
Do you have a favorite behind-the-scenes comedy?
I love American Movie. It's a group of low-budget regular folks outside the loop. The thing that I love about those little groups of people making fringe-y movies is they're not very different from the real deal. If you go to a studio and pitch a movie, it's not unlike the characters in Let's Do This — it's a bunch of people spitballing their fucking opinions. It's just on a different scale, and probably with more effort made at appealing to an audience. Look at John Carter. Andrew Stanton, the writers, the actors, everybody involved in that is the best Hollywood has to offer, and it's a huge misfire. The only difference between it and the kind of thing Cal-Gold would make is we'd have extremely cheap costumes. But the box office would be the same!
Are you ready for some dating advice questions?
I've been married for fifteen years, so I don't know how much I can help people. All I'll say is that I'm very proud that in all my years of marriage and with two kids, our kids have never caught my wife and me having sex… and they sleep in the same bed with us.
I can see I'm asking the right man here. Okay: your character on Let's Do This remarried his ex-wife. I've been texting back and forth with an ex-boyfriend, and we're thinking about getting back together. Should I do it?
How many times do people have to make those mistakes? There are many young men out there who are available and extremely horny, and you should go chaperone one of them. This guy had his chance. Stop texting him. Texting will teach you nothing about a person except how pithy they're able to be.
Both you and David Cross are in committed relationships now, but back in the Mr. Show days, who had more Mr. Show groupies?
Well, I wouldn't know, because I was in a committed relationship pretty quickly during Mr. Show. I've always been pretty oblivious to women's interest in me. I think my mother loves me, but other than that, I wasn't real sure how females looked at me. David kicks my ass around the block on that one — he had way more girlfriends than I ever did. But I also would say that David was always a serious guy about relationships. He didn't take full advantage of his celebrity, ever. You know, David is secretly a very serious guy about life, and a very responsible guy too, and I think he comes across as irresponsible, but he's not capricious like he appears to be.
Are we talking about the coke-at-the-White-House thing?
…yes. Please write this in this way: he's not this coke-sniffing wack-a-doodle Jiminy Cricket character that he presents to the world. Please put the hyphens where they belong in there. There's two hyphens in "wack-a-doodle."
Right. Well, even if you were in a committed relationship at the time, you must have had female fans who were into you.
I must have. There must be some proof of it, somewhere. If you can find it, please show it to me and make me regret my obliviousness.
You play the world's sleaziest lawyer on Breaking Bad. Please speculate wildly about his sex life.
Saul has a different favorite strip club every month and a different favorite stripper every week, and I think that he gets to go to bed with the strippers because they think he actually has real money. Lap dances are as intimate as he wants to get, and he's glad to pay for them. When the girl actually agrees to go out with him outside a strip club, it immediately freaks him out and he wants it to end. That's my thought on him.
You got your start in Chicago and then moved to L.A. Can you give me a sweeping generalization about how the women are different in those two cities?
I think women in Chicago are less career-psycho and more down-to-earth, let's-have-a-baby-right-now… ish. They probably know consciously that they're looking for a serious relationship, whereas people in L.A., none of them are ever looking for anything serious. There should be a new thing for L.A. called a three-month marriage. Or just a sleeping-together ceremony. Everyone reads vows about how they promise to sleep with each other once in a while. "I will put my hands wherever you want them to be, but not where you don't want them to be."
You played a marriage counselor on Arrested Development. What's the single best piece of marriage advice you can give?
You've got to know when to shut up. You learn when you're young never to put nasty or angry words in an email or letter — you realize that even though it was all true at the time you wrote it, you don't want it between you and the other person forever. With a marriage, think of it as if there's a stenographer in the room at all times who's making a permanent record of your discussion. So when things get hairy, watch how far you go, because in order to keep the relationship going, you need to not say things that you can't live with. My wife and I are very honest with each other, and it's one of the reasons I'm with her — one of the things that made me be in love with her was that she was very straightforward with me, and she allowed me to be very honest with her and not walk on eggshells around her. But that's all up to a point, and then you have to make sure you don't go over a line.
You've directed several music videos. What's the greatest love song of all time?
Something by Ray LaMontagne. That guy, the girls get in the mood when he sings.
I want to pick up girls at bars, but I'm shy. What's a good approach?
Get a fake plaster cast for your arm, and put a bunch of fake friends' names on it, so that the girl thinks you're injured and have loads of friends.
Is that how you met your wife?
No, she saw me doing a show called Un-Cabaret here in L.A., which is a very confessional, honest, alternative standup venue where people talk about their feelings and tell stories about what happened to them that week and then make jokes about it. She saw me in that a couple of times, and honestly, I think she got to know me from my act. And then we ran into each other outside a club, and I said hi to her and asked for her number, and then I called her a month later. I made her wait.
That's a long time.
Well, I was going through my list of girls. It wasn't that long a list. And I was totally serious about relationships. I was looking for somebody who I wanted to be with forever. I always knew I wanted to have kids, if I could, before I got too old. There's a certain show-business lifestyle that a lot of people go with that's perfectly fine, but they have kids when they're fifty-five and it's like they're never really parents — they're immediately grandparents. Their career is well-cemented and they have a lot of money, and they're a little too old to start new habits, so they have a little bit of distance. They're, like, very entertained by their kids. I wanted to have a real parental relationship where I was very engaged, and I wanted it to change who I was.
So you had to find the right woman fast.
You know, if I didn't find her, I didn't find her. I wasn't going to force it.
What do you remember about your first girlfriend?
That… she was a girl [starts giggling]. And I knew that for a fact. And that was good enough for me.
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