With one of the ongoing questions for AMC’s spinoff hit Better Call Saul focusing on which of its predecessor Breaking Bad cast members will make cameo appearances, the audience got a first look at a good one today at PaleyFest. Star Bob Odenkirk, co-creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan and cast including Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian and Michael Mando took part on Day 2 of the Paley Center for Media’s annual fan confab.
The crowd at the Dolby Theatre audibly gasped during the screening of the Monday episode when Mark Margolis, who played the invalid cartel drug-runner Hector ‘Tio’ Salamanca on Breaking Bad from seasons 2 to 4, was revealed to be making his Better Call Saul debut. And he’s seen for before the stroke that renders him mute and incapacitated throughout Breaking Bad, bargaining with Jonathan Banks’ Mike to go easy on his nephew Tuco.
“Right as we were breaking down this episode, we thought, Tuco’s in trouble. Who’s he going to call? Uncle Tio,” said Gould during the panel after the screening “It made sense for this guy to show up. It had to be organic.”
For Odenkirk, who plays Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman, and doesn’t appear in the scene, watching it was a nice surprise. “I lose track of how the story plays out,” he laughed. “That blew my mind – like, I didn’t even know. It reminds me, ‘Remember that show you were in?’”
Gilligan addressed an audience member who wondered whether they were banking scenes with Breaking Bad cast members to catch them on film before they age too much to suit this prequel series. “It’s an excellent question,” he said. “But it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’d be hard to think that far ahead. We get a lot of credit for thinking like Bobby Fischer and thinking 20 moves ahead, but we really don’t.”
Gould did say, however, that they’d banked footage from Season 1. “There was a whole, lovely sequence we shot in Season 1 and didn’t end up using. You’ll see it on the show in a couple of weeks.”
Cameos were tricky things to wrangle, the creators said, insisting that the temptation to do them was often stronger than it should be. “It’s difficult not to overdo it,” said Gilligan. “We love all these characters and actors from the Breaking Bad universe. The difficulty is maintaining a level of self discipline to stop yourself from saying, ‘Lets have this person walk through the background,’ or, ‘Let’s have this person get splashed by mud as Jimmy drives by.’ ”
He did tease a Breaking Bad cameo that will never be, though. “We had an idea for the final episode of Season 2, which was a perfect opportunity for a cameo which we didn’t wind up doing. It was an organic and logical possibility for a particular someone to show up, but we didn’t do and actually I got talked out of it. I’m glad I got talked out of it, because it would have distracted from a very important thing we were doing in that moment.”
Added Gould: “It killed me though. It would have been so great.”
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