Bob Odenkirk opens up about life, death, and reinventing himself

Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk

Chicagoland native, Emmy-winning writer, Golden Globe-nominated actor, comedian, director, producer, and Second City alum Bob Odenkirk returned to Chicago to promote his book at an event at the Music Box Theatre.

Odenkirk was joined by Tim Meadows, actor/comedian and Second City alum, who you might also recognize from his appearance in the Chicago set of Mean Girls. The two also worked together on Saturday Night Live

Odenkirk’s book, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama is a memoir where he “opens up about the highs and lows of showbiz, his cult status as a comedy writer, and what it’s like to reinvent himself as an action film ass-kicker at fifty.”

In promotion of the event, Odenkirk spoke exclusively with Time Out where he discussed his early career in Chicago and talked about how his character on Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad, Jimmy McGill (a.k.a. Saul Goodman) was from Cicero, IL and how it affected how he portrayed the character and where he believes McGill/Goodman should really be from, “Yes, I’m going to tell you right now, that came from me growing up in Chicago. Now, I wouldn’t have chosen Cicero because I don’t know if there’s much of an Irish population in that area, “ he tells Time Out, ”That’s because Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan did not grow up in Chicago, so they chose Cicero. I mean, I’m perfectly fine with Cicero and I’ve been there many times— in the book I talk about the Stay Out All Night disco near Cicero, which Jeff Garlin, Lew Schneider and I played. I like Cicero, nothing against it, but I would have put Jimmy McGill on the South Side in more of an Irish-based neighborhood.”

Back in July, Odenkirk suffered a “heart-related incident,” collapsing on the set of the AMC show Better Call Saul, was hospitalized and has fully recovered. The near death experience prompted Odenkirk to write his memoirs which covers his life in the spotlight right up until his cardiac event. In addition to this recent appearance in Chicago, Odenkirk is making the rounds, promoting his book. He recently appeared on the Howard Stern show where he spoke about his book and also shared intimate details from that “heart related incident.” 

“Some lucky things happened, but most of all, I was near my co-stars Rhea Seehorn and Patrick Fabian, who rushed right to my side. Rhea held my head and Patrick held my hand … I turned grey right away and stopped breathing, and they were just yelling and yelling,” he details.

In his autobiography, Odenkirk writes about his career in sketch comedy and several friendships he made along the way, including with Second City co-star turned Saturday Night Live legend Chris Farley. He shared his last interaction with the actor/comedian shortly before his tragic death in 1997.  That last interaction took place behind a bar and through the cracked window of Farley’s limousine.

“Somebody came in and said Farley’s out back and he wants to say hi to you,” he recalled, explaining Chris had been partying hard and the drugs had begun taking their toll. “I guess he felt weird about coming in because … he was very aware of what he looked like and how people were perceiving him … He was way off the rails at this particular event where they were also having a ‘Saturday Night Live’ reunion. I’m sure people had been telling him all weekend, ‘What the hell is wrong with you, Chris? Go to rehab right now.’”

“Chris looked worse than I’d ever seen him,” Odenkirk recounted. “That feeling of inevitability that I write about was the worst part of it all … That horrible feeling of, ‘This goddamn story is just going to play out in the corniest f**king way.’ Even Chris would’ve told you, ‘This is what I’m going to do, and I’m going to die.’”

The upcoming sixth and final season of the AMC television series Better Call Saul is set to premiere on April 18, 2022, in the United States, and will consist of 13 episodes split into two parts. The second half of the season will premiere on July 11, 2022. 

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