Michael McKean Q&A: ‘Better Call Saul’

“You have to love the character to a certain extent,” explains Michael McKean as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his performance on the hit AMC series “Better Call Saul.” He plays Chuck McGill, brother of the series lead Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk). In the show’s second season Chuck goes to great lengths to get in the way of Jimmy’s professional success which culminate in the season final where he faces his crippling fear of electricity to secretly record his brother. Admits the actor, “in life if I had to trap someone into confessing a felony, I wouldn’t know where to start. But Chuck is pretty clever. He knows how to manipulate and here he manipulates by looking helpless.”

For McKean, the key to the character is “you have to love him to understand him. To know what makes him what he is. Otherwise, if you’re playing a bad guy and just looking in the mirror saying ‘what evil shall I do today?’ you won’t be interesting, and no-one is going to care. So I love Chuck even if nobody else does, which doesn’t mean to say I fully understand him.”

He thinks the bad blood between the brothers is long-standing. “There is a family dynamic. Chuck was a guy who just thought he was always going to be on the winner’s track. Jimmy is the one that always had to be bailed out of jail. Chuck has always had to get him out of trouble. You can imagine what it must be like to be the brother of the screw-up. And all you can think of is ‘they want to drag me into this mess.’”

While “Better Call Saul” is a prequel to “Breaking Bad,” Chuck did not appear in the latter so viewers have no idea as to his fate. And McKean is in the same boat. “I’m curious, but it’s not an overwhelming curiosity. If I open the script that tells me where he went, I’ll try to act like I knew all along, but I have a feeling I’ll be kind of astonished.”

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UPLOADED Jun 6, 2016 12:00 pm