|Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul character|
Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill
|Portrayed by||Bob Odenkirk|
Blake Bertrand, Cole Whitaker (childhood flashbacks)
|Full name||James Morgan McGill|
|Significant other||Kim Wexler|
James Morgan "Jimmy" McGill, also known as Saul Goodman and Gene Taković, is a fictional character who appears in the television series Breaking Bad and serves as the titular character of its spin-off prequel series Better Call Saul. He is portrayed by Bob Odenkirk, and was created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. The character is an Albuquerque-based lawyer who embraces his tendencies as a former scam artist and begins to represent criminals while himself becoming involved in the city's criminal world. Saul's name is a play on the phrase "[It]'s all good, man".
Better Call Saul revolves around the life of Jimmy McGill beginning around 2002, prior to (and, to a limited extent, during and after) the events of Breaking Bad. McGill starts the series as a talented but unsuccessful lawyer overshadowed by his older brother Chuck, working closely with his fellow attorney and on-off partner Kim Wexler. The first season follows his attempts to transform himself from a con man to a legitimate lawyer, while cutting ethical corners and facing roadblocks from Chuck. He adopts the alias "Saul Goodman" during the third season of the series, though not as an attorney, but as a TV commercial producer.
In Breaking Bad, the character is introduced to help Walter White launder the proceeds of his methamphetamine production, and later introduces White and Pinkman to drug kingpin Gus Fring. He is depicted as using tacky television commercials to advertise his practice, which is based in a strip mall office that features a giant rendering of the United States Constitution. Until the final episodes of the series, he is portrayed as a relatively light-hearted character, mainly interested in profiting while other characters are concerned with life and death. By the end of the series, when Walt's drug empire has collapsed, Saul is forced to go into hiding under a new identity.
The season premieres of Better Call Saul open with black and white flash forwards that take place after the final episodes of Breaking Bad, showing that after leaving Albuquerque, Saul relocates to Omaha, Nebraska under the alias "Gene Taković", and keeps a low profile as the manager of a Cinnabon establishment.
After Badger is arrested in a sting operation by the Albuquerque Police, Walt and Jesse look into hiring a shady, flamboyant lawyer named Saul Goodman. Saul has already offered to be Badger's legal counsel and has found out that the DEA is hoping that Badger will lead them to "Heisenberg." Walt poses as Badger's uncle and goes to Saul's office, where he learns that Saul will advise Badger to flip to avoid prison. Walt offers Saul a bribe to keep Badger from confessing, but Saul refuses.
Walt and Jesse resort to kidnapping Saul, threatening to kill him if he does not keep Badger from informing on them. However, Saul sees through their scare tactics and instead asks for payment so he can legally represent them, and keep their talks confidential. Saul tells the duo about a man, Jimmy "In-'N-Out" Kilkelly, who makes a living being paid by other criminals to go to jail, and offers to have him stand in for Heisenberg. The DEA busts Kilkelly when Badger gives them a fake deal, but Hank is not completely convinced. Later, Saul visits Walt at his school, telling him that he is too easy to find. Saul offers to be Walt's full-time legal counsel and adviser in covering his tracks.
The need for a character like Saul came from two paths of Breaking Bad's development around the show's second season. First and foremost, as White and Pinkman got themselves deeper into the drug business, the show's writers felt they needed a character to be a guide for them. At this point, they had written that Pinkman's dimwitted friends like Badger were selling their drugs, they envisioned what type of lawyer they would enlist should they run into trouble. The creators decided on the name "Saul Goodman" as a play on the phrase "[It]'s all good, man", as in that even his most simple-minded clients would remember his name when they get arrested. Secondly, they were at a point in Hank's narrative where he had suffered a major trauma in seeing an informant's decapitated head, and he would no longer be able to serve as the show's bit of lightness. They thus made Saul more of a comical character to fill this void. The character was originally intended to appear in only three episodes of Breaking Bad, but instead became central to the narrative of the series.
Odenkirk described Saul in Breaking Bad as a "front" who "seemed to enjoy being a showy cheeseball," while in Better Call Saul, Jimmy is an "earnest, sweet guy whose brain naturally cooks up dishonest solutions to the challenges in front of him." Gould described Saul as a "hermetically sealed slickster." Odenkirk based the character's speaking style on producer Robert Evans.
In 2014, as a publicity stunt for the launch of Better Call Saul, a billboard for "James M. McGill, Attorney at Law" was placed in Albuquerque, mimicking a billboard that appeared on the show, with a phone number connecting to a voice mail message recorded by Odenkirk.
For the first, second, and third seasons of Better Call Saul, Odenkirk was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
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