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'Better Call Saul' turned out so much better for Bob Odenkirk

Bob Odenkirk, a fan favorite for his portrayal of the ethically challenged drug lawyer Saul Goodman, never received an Emmy nomination during the critical hit "Breaking Bad." That changed Thursday morning when Odenkirk received a lead actor nomination for the spin-off series on AMC "Better Call Saul."

Below is an edited transcript of an interview with Odenkirk.

You've been in the business for a while. But you've really come to the forefront with this character. And to think that you were thinking your "Breaking Bad" stint would be three or four episodes at most. Look what it spiraled into.

I know! Listen, I think it's all due to [show creators] Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. The fact that those guys saw — and you really have to ask them what they saw that made them think we could get here. And they've said that from the first episode I was on that there was more to this character, and they were curious about what that more is, and what his story was.

EMMY NOMINATIONS: List of nominees | Social media reaction | Diversity | Drama | Comedy | Full coverage

I think for me the greatest thing about all of this is that I like the character. I didn't love Saul Goodman. I loved playing Saul Goodman, but the person himself is not a person I would associate myself with. But I like Jimmy McGill, and I like the backstory and it plays true for me — everything about him. So, liking him is a big deal to me because I have to be him.

Well, and spin-offs are a tricky thing. Very few stick. And this one seems to be one of those few.

Yeah. And it's scary to do a spin-off of one of the most beloved shows ever. But I'm pretty tough. I've been in this business for a while. You just get tough. I was certainly willing to take the gamble with the writing of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. I mean, how could you not?

You talk about enjoying exploring the Jimmy side of this character. And in the season finale we sort of see a moment in which Jimmy sort of turns. How is that playing him going forward?

As you know, Saul Goodman in "Breaking Bad" was a facade. It was a front. And he even told Walter White when they met, "Listen, this is just a put on." I think the crazy thing is that ultimately Jimmy McGill is going to be a much more remembered character than Saul Goodman as time goes by. And then when you see Saul Goodman in about a year or two, after we've told this story for a while, you're not going to see Saul Goodman anymore, you're going to see Jimmy McGill playing Saul Goodman.

And I have to ask, are you now more vigilant about getting your parking slips validated?

Always. Absolutely. I don't want to get into a fight with an angry person who operates the booth. That's not fair, they're not always angry. Maybe I'm the one who is always angry. But see, we are educating people. It's an educational show!

yvonne.villarreal@latimes.com

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