Bob Odenkirk

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Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Odenkirk at San Diego Comic Con, July 2013
Born Robert John Odenkirk
(1962-10-22) October 22, 1962 (age 52)
Berwyn, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actor, comedian, director, producer, writer
Years active 1987–present
Spouse(s) Naomi Yomtov
Children 2
Relatives Bill Odenkirk (brother)

Robert John "Bob" Odenkirk (born October 22, 1962) is an American actor, comedian, writer, director, and producer. He co-created and co-starred in the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David and is also known for his role as lawyer Saul Goodman on the AMC crime drama series Breaking Bad and its spin-off series Better Call Saul.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Odenkirk worked as a writer for such television shows as Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Get a Life, The Ben Stiller Show and The Dennis Miller Show. In the mid-1990s, Odenkirk and David Cross created the Emmy-nominated sketch comedy program Mr. Show with Bob and David, which ran for four seasons and ultimately became a cult success.[1] In the early 2000s, Odenkirk discovered the comedy duo Tim & Eric and produced their television series Tom Goes to the Mayor and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! He has directed three films: Melvin Goes to Dinner (2003), Let's Go to Prison (2006) and The Brothers Solomon (2007).

Early life[edit]

Odenkirk was born in Berwyn, Illinois and raised in nearby Naperville. He is one of seven siblings born to Walter, who was employed in the printing business, and Barbara Odenkirk,[2] Roman Catholics of German and Irish descent.[3][4] His parents divorced in part due to Walter Odenkirk's alcoholism, which would influence Odenkirk's decision to avoid alcohol almost completely. He would later say that he grew up "hating" Naperville because "it felt like a dead end, like Nowheresville. I couldn't wait to move into a city and be around people who were doing exciting things."[3] Walter Odenkirk died of bone cancer in 1995.[2][4]

Odenkirk attended Naperville North High School and Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, then transferred to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, "honing his sketch-writing and performance skills with live shows on both colleges' radio stations."[2] He began his foray into comedy writing as a radio DJ for WIDB (Carbondale, Illinois), his local college station at SIU-Carbondale. He worked at WIDB with newsman Greg Weindorf and traffic man Matt "The Agitator" Helser now of Dirty Laundry Podcast fame. He created a late-night (midnight to 4am) radio comedy show called "The Prime Time Special" with many recurring characters. "It often had us in stitches" said then WIDB Program Director, Victor Lentini. After three years of college, Odenkirk decided to try writing and improv in Chicago. First studying with Del Close, Odenkirk attended "The Players Workshop of the Second City" where he met Robert Smigel, and they began a collaboration that would last for years and take Odenkirk to Saturday Night Live.[3] He also performed at the Improv Olympic alongside notable comedians Chris Farley and Tim Meadows.

Odenkirk has said his strongest comedic influence was Monty Python's Flying Circus, primarily due to its combination of cerebral and simple humor.[5] Other influences included radio personality Steve Dahl, SCTV, Steve Martin's Let's Get Small, Woody Allen, The Credibility Gap, and Bob and Ray.[5] He visited Chicago's Second City Theater at the age of 14. His younger brother is comedy writer Bill Odenkirk.


Work in television[edit]

Saturday Night Live: 1987–1991[edit]

Odenkirk was hired as a writer at Saturday Night Live in 1987 and worked there through 1991. Working alongside Robert Smigel and Conan O'Brien, he contributed to many sketches they created, but felt uncertain of the efficacy of his own writing at the show.[6] He acted in several small roles on the show, most visibly during a 1991 parody commercial for Bad Idea Jeans.[7] During his final year at SNL, he worked alongside Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, and Chris Farley, but eventually he decided to leave the show in order to pursue performing.[6] He has credited SNL with teaching him many lessons about sketch writing, from senior writers like James Downey and Al Franken, as well as his friends Smigel and O'Brien.[5]

When Saturday Night Live took its 1988 summer break, Odenkirk returned to Chicago to perform a stage show with Smigel and O'Brien, titled Happy Happy Good Show. The following summer he did a one-man show, Show-Acting Guy, directed by Tom Gianas. During his final summer hiatus, he wrote and acted in the Second City Mainstage show, Flag Burning Permitted in Lobby Only. In that particular show, he wrote the character "Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker", for Chris Farley, which would later be reprised on SNL.[5]

Various writing and acting work: 1991–1994[edit]

In 1991, Odenkirk was hired to write for the TV show Get a Life, which starred Late Night with David Letterman alumnus Chris Elliott.[8] Odenkirk also wrote for The Dennis Miller Show[9]

Odenkirk's friendship with Ben Stiller, with whom he briefly shared an office at SNL, would lead to him being hired for the cast of The Ben Stiller Show in 1992. Working as both a writer and actor on the show, he created and starred in the memorable sketch "Manson Lassie", and helped the show win an Emmy Award for writing. However, the show had already been canceled by the time it won the award.[1] Odenkirk served as a writer on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien for the show's 1993 and 1994 seasons.[10] Odenkirk met David Cross at Ben Stiller; shortly afterward, the pair began performing live sketch shows, which eventually evolved into Mr. Show with Bob and David.[10] In 1993, Odenkirk began a recurring role on The Larry Sanders Show as Larry Sanders' agent, Stevie Grant. He would continue the character through 1998.[10] Also in 1993, Odenkirk had brief acting roles on Roseanne[11] and Tom Arnold's The Jackie Thomas Show.[12]

Mr. Show: 1995–1998[edit]

Main article: Mr. Show

Created by Odenkirk and David Cross, Mr. Show ran on HBO for 4 seasons, over 33 episodes. The show featured a number of comedians in the early stages of their careers, including Sarah Silverman, Paul F. Tompkins, Jack Black, Tom Kenny, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Brian Posehn and Scott Aukerman. While nominated for multiple Emmy awards in writing and generally well liked by critics, it never broke out of a "cult" audience into larger mainstream acceptance. After Mr. Show, Bob and David and the writers from the staff wrote the movie Run, Ronnie, Run. The film was an extension of a sketch from the first season of the show. However, the studio took production control away from Cross and Odenkirk during the editing stages, and the pair disowned the final product.[citation needed]

After Mr. Show: 1999–2008[edit]

Odenkirk holding a producer credit for The 1 Second Film in January 2005

Since Mr. Show, Odenkirk has acted in numerous television shows and some films. He has written and produced many TV pilots, including The Big Wide World of Carl Laemke and David's Situation, but none have made it to air or been picked up as a series.[13] In 2004, Odenkirk received an unsolicited package including the work of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Inspired by their unique voice, he connected with them and helped them develop a semi-animated show for Adult Swim called Tom Goes to the Mayor. He assisted Tim and Eric with the development of their second series, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job. He had a number of small featuring roles on TV shows, including Everybody Loves Raymond, Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, Seinfeld, NewsRadio, Just Shoot Me!, Joey, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, Entourage, Weeds and How I Met Your Mother.[10]

Odenkirk had been selected to be Michael Scott in the pilot of The Office but the producers' original choice, Steve Carell, became available again and was cast instead.[14] Odenkirk finally guested in the final season of The Office as a Philadelphia manager strongly reminiscent of Michael Scott.

Breaking Bad 2009–2013[edit]

Main article: Breaking Bad

In 2009, Odenkirk joined the cast of AMC's Breaking Bad as corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman. He appeared as a guest star in three episodes of the second season, and eventually became a series regular for the seasons after and remained on the show until its final season.

Other works[edit]

In 2011, Odenkirk wrote and developed Let's Do This! for Adult Swim, starring as Cal Mackenzie-Goldberg a "two-bit movie mogul and head of Cal-Gold Pictures as he leads a collection of crazy, fame-hungry strivers chasing Hollywood dreams". The pilot can be seen on Adult Swim's website.[15]

Odenkirk executive produced the sketch comedy show The Birthday Boys which starred the comedy group of the same name. Odenkirk also appeared in and directed a number of the sketches on the show as well.[16] It premiered on IFC on October 18, 2013. In 2014, Odenkirk played Police Chief Bill Oswalt in FX's miniseries Fargo.

In fall of 2014, Odenkirk played Dr. Stork, a podiatrist who specializes in cutting off people's toes, in Adult Swim's anthology series Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories.[17]

Better Call Saul: 2015-[edit]

Main article: Better Call Saul

Odenkirk currently stars in the title role of the Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul. Primarily set in 2002, seven years before the character's debut in Breaking Bad, the series follows lawyer Saul Goodman's ascent from humble origins to his eventual status as a successful criminal lawyer. The first season consists of 10 hour-long episodes, and a second season of 13 episodes has been commissioned.[18]

Work in film[edit]

Odenkirk's first roles in film were very minor roles in films such as Wayne's World 2, The Cable Guy, Can't Stop Dancing and Monkeybone. In 2003, Odenkirk directed Melvin Goes to Dinner and also played the role of Keith. The film received positive reviews from critics and won the Audience Award at the SXSW Film and Music Festival. It was later self-released in five cities, then distributed on DVD by Sundance.[citation needed]

In 2006, Odenkirk directed Let's Go to Prison, which was written by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, and starred Will Arnett, Dax Shepard and Chi McBride. The film received a 12% "All Critics" score from the website Rotten Tomatoes [19] and had a total box office gross of a little more than US$4.6 million.[20] The following year Odenkirk directed The Brothers Solomon, written by Will Forte and starring Forte, Will Arnett and Kristin Wiig. The film received a 15% "All Critics" score from Rotten Tomatoes[21] and had a total box office gross of approximately $1 million.[22]

After starring in Breaking Bad, Odenkirk began to have more prominent roles in critically successful films such as The Giant Mechanical Man, The Spectacular Now, which received the Special Jury Award for Acting at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and the Alexander Payne-directed film Nebraska, which was nominated for a Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[23][24] He began to appear more prominently in comedy films as well, such as Take Me Home Tonight,[25] Ass Backwards,[26] Dealin' with Idiots,[27] and Hell & Back.[28] Odenkirk was also one of the directors of the 2013 anthology comedy Movie 43.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Odenkirk has stated that his wife and children are Jewish, but he is not.[30]


Year Title
2013 Hollywood Said No!
2014 A Load of Hooey


Year Title
2014 Amateur Hour (feat. Brandon Wardell)



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Wayne's World 2 Concert nerd
1994 Clean Slate Cop
1996 The Truth About Cats & Dogs Bookstore man
1996 The Cable Guy Party guest
1996 Waiting for Guffman Caped man at audition
1997 Hacks Cellmate
1999 Can't Stop Dancing Simpson
2000 The Independent Figure
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 Dog #2 (voice)
2001 Monkeybone Morgue surgeon
2002 Run Ronnie Run Terry Twillstein / Wolfgang Amadeus Thelonius Von Funkenmeister the XIX /
Daffy Mal Yinkle Yankle
DVD Exclusive Award for Best Original Song in a DVD Premiere Movie
2003 Melvin Goes to Dinner Keith Director
Phoenix Film Festival Award for Best Picture
Phoenix Film Festival Award for Best Ensemble Acting
Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival Award for Best Feature Film
Independent Film Festival of Boston Audience Award
Avignon Film Festival Award for Best Feature — USA
Nominated – DVD Exclusive Award for Best Director
Nominated – Slamdance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize
2004 My Big Fat Independent Movie Steve
2005 Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic Manager
2005 Cake Boy Darnell Hawk
2006 Danny Roane: First Time Director Pete Kesselmen
2006 Relative Strangers Mitch Clayton
2006 Let's Go to Prison Duane Director
2007 The Brothers Solomon Jim Treacher Director
2007 Super High Me Bob
2009 Operation: Endgame Emperor
2010 Blood Into Wine French winemaker
2011 Son of Morning Fred Charles
2011 Take Me Home Tonight Mike
2012 Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Schlaaang Announcer
2012 The Giant Mechanical Man Mark
2013 Ass Backwards Pageant MC
2013 Dealin' with Idiots Coach Jimbo
2013 The Spectacular Now Dan
2013 Movie 43 P.I. Director
Segment: "Find Our Daughter"
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screenplay
2013 Nebraska Ross Grant Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Satellite Award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Critics Choice Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated – Central Ohio Film Critics Association for Best Ensemble
2014 Boulevard Winston
2015 Kitchen Sink Post-production
2015 Hell & Back The Devil (voice) Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1987–1995 Saturday Night Live Various Roles Writer
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program (1989)
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program (1990, 1991)
1991–1992 Get a Life Writer
1992 The Dennis Miller Show Writer
1992 The Ben Stiller Show Various Roles Writer
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program (1993)
1993 The Jackie Thomas Show Elmer Episode: "Aloha, Io-wahu"
1993 Roseanne Jim Episode: "Tooth or Consequences"
1993–1998 The Larry Sanders Show Steve Grant 11 episodes
1993–1994 Late Night with Conan O'Brien Writer
1994 Tom David Episode: "The Bad Seed"
1994 Life on Mars (Role Unknown) Pilot
Creator, Writer
1995–1998 Mr. Show with Bob and David Various Roles Co-Creator, Writer, Executive Producer
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics (1998)
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program (1998, 1999)
1996 Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Bob (voice) Episode: "Fructose"
1996 Seinfeld Ben Episode: "The Abstinence"
1997–1998 NewsRadio Dr. Smith / Bob 2 episodes
1997–2001 Everybody Loves Raymond Scott Preman 2 episodes
1997–2000 Tenacious D Co-creator, Writer, Executive Producer
1999 Just Shoot Me! Barry Episode: "The Odd Couple: Part 1"
1999 3rd Rock from the Sun Gary Parkinson Episode: "The Fifth Solomon"
2000 Curb Your Enthusiasm Gil Episode: "Porno Gil"
2000 The Near Future Pilot
Co-Creator, Director, Writer, Executive Producer
2001 Ed Rev. Richie Porter Episode: "Valentine's Day"
2001 The Andy Dick Show Chuck Charles Episode: "Standards and Practices"
2002 Next! Various Roles Pilot
Co-Creator, Writer, Executive Producer
2003 Highway to Oblivion Pilot
2003 Less than Perfect Colin Hunter Episode: "The New Guy"
2003 Futurama Chaz (voice) Episode: "The Why of Fry"
2003 The Big Wide World of Carl Laemke Carl Laemke Pilot
Creator, Writer, Executive Producer
2003 Slice o' Life (Role Unknown) Pilot
2003 Arrested Development Dr. Phil Gunty Episode: "Visiting Ours"
2004 Joey Brian Michael David Scott Episode: "Joey and the Nemesis"
2004 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Bean Wizard (voice) Episode: "Hypno-Germ"
2004–2006 Tom Goes to the Mayor Various Voices Writer, Executive Producer
2005 Crank Yankers Droopy (voice) Episode: "#3.14"
2006 Freak Show Half Oldman Half Youngman / Senator Tinkerbell (voices) 2 episodes
2007–2010 Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Various Roles Writer
2007 The Sarah Silverman Program Mister Wadsworth Episode: "Maid to Border"
2008–2012 How I Met Your Mother Arthur Hobbs 9 episodes
2008 Weeds Barry Episode: "Head Cheese"
2008 Mike Birbiglia's Secret Public Journal Donnie Television special
2008 David's Situation Pilot
Co-Creator, Director, Writer, Executive Producer
2009 Rules of Engagement Mike Episode: "Russell's Secret"
2009–2013 Breaking Bad Saul Goodman 36 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2014)
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2012, 2013)
2009 American Dad! Third Worker / TV Host (voices) 2 episodes
2009 The Goode Family Brian Kennedy (voice) Episode: "Pleatherheads"
2009 Glenn Martin DDS Vince the Circus Owner (voice) Episode: "The Grossest Show on Earth"
2010 The Life & Times of Tim The Interventionist / Bathroom Attendant (voices) 2 episodes
2010 Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule Writer
2010 Entourage Ken Austin 3 episodes
2010 Team Spitz Principal Kersey Pilot
2010 Funny or Die Presents Scott & Behr Episode: "112"
2011 Let's Do This! Cal Pilot
Creator, Director, Writer, Executive Producer
2011 Jon Benjamin Has a Van Rev. Rocco Janson Episode: "Smoking"
2012 NTSF:SD:SUV:: Aaron Sampson Episode: "Robot Town"
2012 Bob's Burgers Chase (voice) Episode: "Tina-Rannosaurus Wrecks"
2012 The League Miles Miller Episode: "A Krampus Carol"
2012–2014 Comedy Bang Bang Various Roles 4 Episodes
2013 The Office Mark Episode: "Moving On"
2013 Drunk History Richard Nixon / The Guy 2 episodes
2013 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Saul Goodman Episode: "5.191"
2013–2014 The Birthday Boys Various Roles Director, Writer, Executive Producer
2014 Fargo Chief Bill Oswalt 9 episodes
2014 TripTank Hot Sauce Worker (voice) Episode: "Crossing the Line"
2014 Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories Dr. Stork Episode: "Toes"
2015–present Better Call Saul Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman Also producer

Music video[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Built to Spill - Hindsight Director


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Channel 101 Terry Wulhulherher Segment: "Your Magic Touched Me: Nights"
2007 Derek & Simon Vance Hammersly Co-Creator, Writer, Director, Executive Producer
2008 Face to Bush Co-Creator, Writer, Director, Executive Producer
2009 American Contestant Himself Funny or Die sketches
2013 Ghost Ghirls Frank van Stetten Episode: "Ghost Writer"



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  2. ^ a b c "Overview for Bob Odenkirk". TCM (Turner Classic Movies). Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Parsi, Novid (March 17, 2010). "Bad boy". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Pfefferman, Naomi (November 15, 2013). "Bob Odenkirk on 'Nebraska' and 'Breaking Bad'". Jewish Journal. Tribe Media Corp. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d Sacks, Mike (July 2, 2009). "How I Made It in Comedy: Bob Odenkirk". Chicago Reader. News + Features: Sun-Times Media, LLC. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Bob Odenkirk Interview". By the way: In conversation with Jeff Garlin. #20 Bob Odenkirk. October 3, 2013. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Bob Odenkirk Laments 'SNL' Stints: "I Was a Dick" to Lorne Michaels". The Hollywood Reporter. March 3, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  8. ^ Sandberg, Bryn Elise (October 27, 2014). "Bob Odenkirk on 'Better Call Saul': "It's Total Drama"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ Zara, Ignacio (February 7, 2015). "'Better Call Saul' Star Bob Odenkirk. Ten Things You Should Know.". Yareah Magazine. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d Harp, Justin (February 8, 2015). "Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk: Key TV moments from Breaking Bad star". Digital Spy. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ Chan, Anna (October 18, 2013). "'Roseanne' guest stars like George Clooney found big stardom". Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ "The Jackie Thomas Show: Credits". Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ Oksenhorn, Stewart (March 14, 2013). "Four comics face reality: Could Bob Odenkirk, Norm Macdonald, Phil Hendrie and Joe Rogan have picked a worse time to try to become sitcom stars?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ Carter, Bill (May 1, 2013). "One Last Cringe for ‘The Office’ Finale". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2013. 
  15. ^ Glazer, Eliot (March 8, 2012). "Watch the First Episode of Bob Odenkirk’s New Adult Swim Series, Let’s Do This". Vulture. New York Magazine. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  16. ^ Bibel, Sara (August 13, 2013). "IFC's New Sketch Comedy, 'The Birthday Boys' to Premiere Friday, October 18". Zap2it. Retrieved August 13, 2013. 
  17. ^ Snierson, Dan (September 25, 2014). "Bob Odenkirk Prepares To Cut Off Gillian Jacobs' Toes on 'Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  18. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (June 19, 2014). "'Better Call Saul' Renewed for Second Season by AMC; First Season Pushed Back to 2015". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Let's Go To Prison". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Let's Go to Prison". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  21. ^ "The Brothers Solomon". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  22. ^ "The Brothers Solomon". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 4, 2015. .
  23. ^ "2013 Sundance Film Festival Announces Feature Film Awards". January 26, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  24. ^ "2013 Official Selection". Cannes. April 18, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  25. ^ Jones, J.R. "Take Me Home Tonight". Chicago Reader. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  26. ^ Harvey, Dennis (January 24, 2013). "Review: 'Ass Backwards'". Variety. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  27. ^ Chang, Justin (July 16, 2013). "Film Review: 'Dealin’With Idiots'". Variety. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Bob Odenkirk Joins Cast Of 'Hell & Back'". Deadline Hollywood. March 28, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  29. ^ Harp, Justin (March 1, 2013). "'Movie 43' star Richard Gere: 'I won't see the movie'". Digital Spy. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  30. ^

Further reading

External links[edit]