‘Better Call Saul’s Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould Tease ‘Breaking Bad’ Overlap in Season 3 (VIDEO)
Under the bright Southwestern sun of Albuquerque, filming for Season 3 of Better Call Saul is well underway. The season premiere won’t arrive on AMC until 2017, but co-creators and executive producers Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould seem confident that the final product will be worth the wait, as it picks up immediately with the intense fallout of Chuck’s (Michael McKean) secret recording and Mike’s (Jonathan Banks) mysterious note.
With the Better Call Saul Season 2 Blu-ray and DVD sets–including commentary for each of the season’s 10 episodes and a handful of extras and featurettes— releasing on Tuesday, we spoke to Gilligan and Gould about the future of the series as it gradually approaches the Breaking Bad era. Check out the exclusive clip of Season 2 DVD bonus content below as a refresher on what’s happened on the show, and read on for Gilligan and Gould’s take on what to expect from Season 3.
Where are you in the process of shooting Season 3? Are things going smoothly?
Vince Gilligan: Even as we speak they’re shooting away in Albuquerque. It’s going very well. I was very fortunate to get to direct the first two episodes, which I don’t usually get to do. In a good season [Peter and I] will get to each direct one episode, but they usually come at the end of the season. It also really kicked my butt. It was really hard, harder than I remembered it. I only directed two in a row one other time, the end of Season 4 of Breaking Bad. But we got off to a great start. We have a new production designer and we have a new director of photography, and both of those gentlemen were just kicking butt, and continue to. We’re very happy with the work they’re doing and the actors are wonderful. Everything’s going well.
Peter Gould: Everybody’s in a good mood, so far.
How has switching out the production designer and the director of photography affected the creative process on the show?
Gilligan: As a director you probably work the most closely with the director of photography, because the production designer you work with during pre-production, and then the designer does all his or her great work and then goes on to work with the next director in pre-production on the next episode. So I spent more time, ultimately, with our director of photography, but I love both of these guys. We hired a couple of artists, and they really care, and they’re really enthusiastic. I can’t wait for people to see this season. It looks so, so damn good. It always looked good, but these two new gentlemen are just kicking butt.
Some people are most invested in Jimmy’s story while others are drawn to Mike or Kim. Which story are you most excited to tell in Season 3?
Gould: Especially as the season kicks off, there’s a lot of very intense conflict. It’s interesting because each season of the show is so very different. Season 1, of course, we were establishing our world. Season 2 was, weirdly enough at the beginning of the season it was almost a reset, because at the end of Season 1, Jimmy might have even given up the law. Now in season 3, we are hitting the ground running, and it’s really because of the way Season 2 ended. At the end of Season 2 Jimmy and Mike both were faced with new twists in their lives, and a lot of what happens at the beginning of Season 3 is about what those things will mean, and how these guys are going to cope with it.
Gilligan: As one of the first fans of the show as well as someone who works on it, I’m fascinated to learn more about Kim and Jimmy. This is what’s so much fun about creating a TV show, it’s such a voyage of discovery. When you write a movie or a book, you’re discovering as you write, but when the thing comes out, it’s done. It’s done before anyone consumes it, and then you wait around, if you wrote a novel or you made a movie, you wait around for the thumbs up or the thumbs down. With a TV show, you’re constantly creating it as people are consuming it. It’s a fascinating, if the word “art form” is the correct thing to use, I don’t know if it is or not, but it’s an amazing medium to get to see people reacting pretty much as you’re creating. And it’s always a constant source of surprise for me.
Can you give an example of something about the show that’s surprised you?
Gilligan: One of the things that surprised me is how wonderful Rhea Seehorn—the actress who plays Kim—is, how great, how interesting, how engaging her character is, what a wonderful job the actress does portraying her. I mean, this is a character we didn’t even have when we started working on the pilot, and suddenly she’s such an integral part of the story. I want to see what happens with her and Jimmy. I’m worried we might get our hearts broken, but I don’t know yet. It’s fascinating.
What can viewers expect in terms of Breaking Bad references in Season 3?
Gould: People have been very patient with waiting to see characters who may be familiar, but I think that folks will be rewarded. Here, let me put it this way. Instead of talking about other people, I’ll talk about myself, because, as Vince said, we’re the first fans of the show. I can tell you, there were squeals of delight as we started kicking off the season [Laughs].
Gilligan: As Alton Brown always used to say on his TV show Good Eats, “Your patience will be rewarded.”
Gould: [Laughs] There you go.
Gilligan: I think the overlap on the Venn diagram between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul only continues to grow larger for Season 3.
Is it getting more difficult to keep up the pacing of Better Call Saul without approaching Breaking Bad territory too quickly?
Gould: Weirdly enough, that hasn’t been a problem for us yet. We have an office full of very smart people who try to figure out how much time has passed in each episode. The odd thing, and this is a similarity between the two shows, if I were to try to analyze it, I would say that usually everything seems to happen relatively quickly. We don’t do a lot of drama that takes place over a series of weeks or months. Everything seems to happen over days. So just in terms of the calendar of it, we don’t seem to have a problem with that.
So there’s still plenty of story to tell before Jimmy becomes Saul?
Gould: A lot of what we think about, really more than anything, is “how does the Jimmy McGill we’ve come to know and love and who had such good intentions, how does he become Saul Goodman?” How does he become a guy who, he’s very amusing, but he can be very cold-hearted? At the same time, we have Mike Ehrmantraut, who doesn’t go through the kind of visual transformation that Jimmy does to become Saul Goodman, but the Mike we meet on Better Call Saul is so far away from being a hired killer for a drug lord.
In a weird way, those character problems are the things that slow us down, because we’re trying to really understand where the characters are, and I have to say that I don’t think we’ve fully solved either one of those questions, and those are, I think, the big dramatic questions of the show.
Gilligan: That’s the stuff that always keeps us awake at night. It would be really tough if we felt pressure to, for instance, inject Walter White into the show. Luckily, we don’t get pressure from Sony or AMC about stuff like that. That would be approaching the storytelling in a very mechanical way, and we always try to be organic in the storytelling and not rush it. Just like Peter said, the big question that hangs over this entire endeavor is, “How exactly did a great guy like Jimmy McGill become such a jackass?” And then, like Peter said, “How did Mike go from being a tough and crusty but essentially law abiding ex-cop to being a hired killer for a drug kingpin?”
Sounds like viewers can expect some pretty heavy things for Jimmy and Mike in future seasons to move those transitions along.
Gilligan: I think you may be on to something [Laughs].
Better Call Saul, Season 2, on DVD and Blu-ray Nov. 15