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Eight minutes isn’t a lot of time with someone whose resume spans multiple decades, genres and iconic roles, so when legendary comedic actor Bob Odenkirk signs onto Zoom for a video chat with Supanova ahead of the release of his new action flick Nobody, we fight the temptation to go all-in on Better Call Saul.
But with a simple, ‘How are you?’, Odenkirk goes straight there, revealing he’s in Albuquerque, shooting the sixth and final season of the acclaimed Breaking Bad prequel.
“It’s fun to be back shooting and it’s fun to be back doing that character because he’s everything; he’s dramatic and funny and sweet and sad and stupid. It’s pretty damn great,” Odenkirk begins with excitement in his voice.
It was back in 2019 that the show’s fifth season wrapped filming, and Saul is looking a little different in 2021.
Nobody, based on a home invasion Odenkirk experienced himself, was written by John Wick’s Derek Kolstad and features fight sequences just as outlandish and violent. Odenkirk, who portrays lead Hutch Mansell in the film, was adamant he did all those scenes, which resulted in two years of intense training.
“I told Vince [Gilligan] and Peter [Gould] when we started [Better Call Saul], I’m 50 years old – this is before we even started shooting – so you better take that into account,” he recalls.
“I’ve now trained and gotten into shape, which is good, because Saul is much younger than me, so maybe in some ways my body is more appropriate for the character now.”
Odenkirk’s training for Nobody paid off big time as the end product is visually stunning.
“It was a joy to watch the finished product,” he says. “It was everything I dreamed it could be – and more. I was surrounded by an incredible team and I was completely committed to playing this part and doing my own fighting on screen and they appreciated my commitment.
“Initially, it was hard for me to get people to understand that I didn’t want to be silly or make fun of action movies – I wanted to completely give myself over the challenge of delivering in a way that action fans would appreciate it.”
The film follows Odenkirk’s Hutch, “an underestimated and overlooked dad and husband, taking life’s indignities on the chin and never pushing back”, that is, until two thieves break into his home.
After he fails to defend his family, Hutch begins to slowly unravel until it all becomes too much and he can no longer contain his previous life, one of secrecy that’s dark and brutal.
When the film’s first trailer dropped alongside the tag ‘starring Bob Odenkirk and from the writer of John Wick’, a lot of people online were trying to figure out what it was exactly – comedy, action, parody?
“Unironic, not sarcastic, brutal, farther than you wanna go, bloody action… now, it is funny – there’s a lot of laughs in the movie. I mean, you can’t help but laugh at a lot of the lines, but they’re not funny in like a Die Hard way, where my character thinks he’s being funny, they’re funny because it’s kind of audacious and just big. It’s just all so big that you can’t help but laugh at the moves.
“But honestly, I didn’t think I could get away with being funny in a Mr Show way and have action fighting because I just think then you wouldn’t have seen the fighting as real enough to be worth your time and money. So to make it worth all that, I wanted to show everyone that I was willing to go up against their highest expectations, and maybe go further.
“When a comedy person does something like this, there’s a desire to keep yourself safe and make a joke, or to wink at the audience like, ‘I don’t really mean it.’ Then you feel safe, because if it doesn’t work, if you don’t do a good enough job, then you can always say, ‘Well, I was joking.’ And I didn’t want to give myself that outlet – I wanted to scare the sh*t out of myself.”
Odenkirk reveals he succeeded in that mission, and given how much effort he put in, the rich characters throughout (including Supanova alumnus Christopher Lloyd as Hutch’s father) and how the film’s been received so far, it would be a shame if there wasn’t a sequel.
“We have talked about what could happen next to the character,” he reveals. “One thing I like about the movie Nobody is… Connie Nielsen plays Becca, my wife, and the way she doesn’t react to his bloody and brutal behaviour – she does get worried when her family is under attack – but when [Hutch] first appears bloodied up, she just is kind of cool. And it tells me that this is not foreign to her; that she has some familiarities with him being violent, or maybe her being violent.
“And I do think that there’s a core tension in this movie about relationships and husbands and wives and that feeling of being years into a married and looking at the other person and wanting to say, ‘Don’t you remember who I used to be? Don’t you remember when I was cool? When I was tough? When I did things on my own? When you couldn’t take me for granted?’
“I would love to see Connie and her character show a side of her that you didn’t know about, or that Hutch forgot. Connie is capable of screen fighting, she’s trained, so I’d love to see her do something.”
‘Nobody’ opens in Australian cinemas on April 1