Most of us know Bob Odenkirk, 51, for his portrayal of Saul Goodman on AMC’s hit show Breaking Bad (a character he’ll reprise next spring in the highly anticipated spinoff, Better Call Saul). But the Los Angeles–based actor has taken successful spins as comedian, producer, and Emmy Award winning writer, with credits that include Saturday Night Live, Mr. Show with Bob and David, Nebraska, and the TV series Fargo. Now, Odenkirk is the latest guest at the SF Jewish Community Center’s Arts and Ideas series, stopping in on October 26 to discuss his new book of comedic shorts, A Load of Hooey (McSweeney’s), on shelves October 7.
SM: You created a number of characters to “author” each piece in A Load of Hooey. Which was your favorite?
BO: Probably the doltish fellow in “A Hazy Christmas Memory.” I have always been jealous of people with a sensitive and prodigious memory, who can write about their childhood with great descriptiveness. Basically, I’m jealous of “real” writers.
SM: Did you delve within for character inspiration?
BO: My characters are some part of me, usually somewhat angry or anarchistic voices that desire to puncture hypocrisy and deflate all greatness, which I ultimately resent, not being “very great” myself. I think all people are clowns. Myself included.
SM: Which comedians inspired you when you were starting out?
BO: Woody Allen. He made it look easy, and for a nerdy, awkward kid he made it seem like I, too, could one day meet and talk to actual women. I also loved Steve Martin and Monty Python.
SM: How does writing compare with acting?
BO: Acting is some kind of self-hypnotic state where you become someone else for a short time, and writing can be a similar experience.
SM: What life lessons did breaking bad teach you?
BO: There is karma. And it’ll twist you up and take you down from inside.
SM: What new sides of saul can we look forward to seeing in Better Call Saul?
BO: Saul has a rich past, full of heartbreak and pain. [His story] will resonate with anyone who has strived to be appreciated and who has gotten his ass kicked by life.
SM: Favorite SF haunts?
BO: House of Nanking, Tosca Cafe, bike riding from Fisherman’s Wharf through the Presidio over the Golden Gate, the Pirate Store at 826 Valencia, and last but definitely not least, City Lights Books.
This article was published in 7x7's October 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.