Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk has no recollection of the heart attack that almost proved fatal last year, but has pieced together an account of what happened on the show’s Albuquerque set from co-stars Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian and other eyewitnesses.
In a New York Times Magazine profile to be published in print on Sunday, Odenkirk says, “I’d known since 2018 that I had this plaque buildup in my heart. I went to two heart doctors at Cedars-Sinai, and I had dye and an M.R.I. and all that stuff, and the doctors disagreed [on treatment].” Taking the advice of the doctor who suggested a wait-and-see approach, Odenkirk says all was fine until last summer when “one of those pieces of plaque broke up.”
“We were shooting a scene, we’d been shooting all day, and luckily I didn’t go back to my trailer,” Okenkirk says. After shooting the scene for the AMC series, the actor stayed on-set to ride a workout bike “and I just went down.” He adds, “Rhea said I started turning bluish-gray right away.”
Alerted by the screams from Seehorn and Fabian, the show’s health safety supervisor and an assistant director began administering CPR and hooked up Odenkirk to an automated defibrillator. After two zaps failed to produce a regular pulse, a third zap “got me that rhythm back,” Odenkirk says. He underwent a stent procedure the following morning, with “little balloons” knocking out the plague and stents put in place.
“You didn’t have a near-death experience,” says Seehorn to Odenkirk, as quoted in the article, “you’re told you had one.”
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