SAG Awards nominee profile: Can Bob Odenkirk (‘Better Call Saul’) follow in Walter White’s winning footsteps?

After losing the Golden Globe, Bob Odenkirk is hoping to get justice at the SAG Awards. The “Better Call Saul” star is on his fourth nomination in the TV drama actor category, and it’s been a bumper awards season for him so far with nominations across the board at SAG, the Globes and Critics Choice. This is especially refreshing after a shocking Emmy snub last year for his critically hailed season-five performance on the show. And no one was happier with the SAG nom than his co-star Rhea Seehorn who tweeted, “I could celebrate your work on ‘Saul’ every day! So thrilled that your VERY deserved recognition makes it that much easier.”

Odenkirk faces off against Josh O’Connor (“The Crown”), Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Sterling K. Brown (“This is Us”) and Regé-Jean Page (“Bridgerton”). Bateman has been nominated for his “Ozark” role twice before in this category and won in 2019. Brown has earned his fifth nomination and previously won in 2018. O’Connor prevailed in 2020 as a member of the “Crown” ensemble cast, but this is his first individual recognition from the guild.

In the fifth season of “Better Call Saul,” Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill continued to develop into the criminal lawyer Saul Goodman audiences remember from “Breaking Bad.” It was a season which saw Saul become entrenched in the perils of drug cartels, stranded in the desert fighting for his life, and navigating the tension and support of his romance with Kim Wexler (Seehorn).

When last speaking with Gold Derby, Odenkirk explained about the show’s trajectory, “It’s what they did with ‘Breaking Bad.’ They build, they build, they build, they build and then things start falling. Once they start falling apart, it just gets bigger and louder and crazier and more explosive.” So perhaps it’s fate for Odenkirk to win this year for the “Breaking Bad” prequel series. Because it was on his fourth nomination that Bryan Cranston finally prevailed at SAG for playing Walter White on “Bad.”

It’s also good news for Odenkirk that “Better Call Saul” is nominated for best ensemble. You need to go all the way back to Hugh Laurie (“House”) in 2009 to find a winner in this category who wasn’t from one of the nominated ensembles. Though unfortunately for Odenkirk, O’Connor, Bateman and Page’s shows also feature in the cast category, putting all four of them on an even playing field.

Another challenge for Odenkirk is that the man who beat him at the Globes is also nominated against him here: O’Connor competes for the more recently aired (November 2020) and buzzed-about season of “The Crown.” And then there are the two guys (Bateman and Brown) who SAG voters have awarded before in this category. Odenkirk is also a SAG winner, but in the ensemble category for “Breaking Bad” in 2014; he hasn’t won for the prequel yet.

However,  the SAG voters have a chance to show up the Emmys and Globes by finally calling Saul up on stage.

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “SAG Awards nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders in film and TV.

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