Here’s How Bob Odenkirk Made It Big In The Entertainment Industry

Bob Odenkirk’s path to fame was long and twisty. His performance as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad on AMC propelled him to stardom. Saul was such a hit on the show that he got his spinoff, Better Call Saul. Yet, Odenkirk was already the unspoken key in sketch and late-night comedy show long before putting on the bright monkey suit. Odenkirk spent a lot of time working behind the scenes in the comedy industry, assisting some of the funniest comedians and jokesters of our time. In the 1990s, he co-created and starred in the groundbreaking sketch comedy show Mr. Show.

Beginning in the new century, he was instrumental in introducing the world to some of Adult Swim’s most successful shows, such as Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! He also created one of the most iconic characters in the history of Saturday Night Live. Odenkirk is now a recognized celebrity in the film industry. Every decision he made along the road was crucial to getting to where he is now.

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3 A Rough Childhood While Living In Naperville

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Bob Odenkirk was one of seven siblings. As he became older, he found himself in the fortunate position of being adjacent to Chicago’s Second City theater, a giant comedy hotspot. However, Odenkirk didn’t always care about this, especially when he was younger. He told TimeOut he was counting down the years until he was an adult and could finally escape. The fact that Odenkirk had a strict upbringing makes this sentiment comprehensible. His dad was a drunk who was rarely there growing up. According to him, his dad was messed up and rarely around. And that’s why he hated Naperville as a kid.

He was looking forward to life in a metropolis, where he might meet interesting people and participate in engaging activities. Instead, they had become distant to the point where they seldom spoke in the years leading up to his father’s death. Especially after starting a family of his own, this factored into Odenkirk’s lifelong choice to abstain from alcohol. The future comic icon’s unhappy childhood served as fertile ground for his professional aspirations. Odenkirk and his brother, fellow comedian and writer Bill Odenkirk became the family jokester.

2 Beginning As A Writer For Saturday Night Live

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Odenkirk began his career in the entertainment industry in 1987 when he was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live. While on the program, he worked with Robert Smigel and Conan O’Brien and contributed to several of their sketches. However, he was never sure how well the public received his contributions. During the summer of 1988, while SNL was on hiatus, Odenkirk returned to Chicago to appear in a stage production titled Happy Happy Good Show with Smigel and O’Brien. Tom Gianas directed his solo performance, Show-Acting Guy, the following summer. At the end of his final summer break, he wrote and starred in Flag Burning Permitted in Lobby Only, a performance at the Second City Mainstage. He also created Chris Farley’s Matt Foley, a Motivational Speaker character for that show who would star in numerous sketches on Saturday Night Live. During his last year at SNL, he worked with the likes of Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, and Chris Farley before quitting to pursue a career in performance.

He learned much about sketch writing from SNL veterans like Jim Downey, Al Franken, and his buddies Smigel and American television host Conan O’Brien. Odenkirk was recruited to join the cast of The Ben Stiller Show in 1992 due to his acquaintance with Stiller, with whom he had shared an office briefly during his time at SNL. He contributed to the show as both a writer and performer, and his work on the sketch Manson Lassie was a big reason the show won an Emmy for writing. After Odenkirk and Cross met at Ben Stiller, they started doing live drawing shows together, which later became Mr. Show with Bob and David. Mr. Show, which Odenkirk and David Cross co-created, aired for four years on HBO. Sarah Silverman, Paul F. Tompkins, Jack Black, Tom Kenny, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Brian Posehn, and Scott Aukerman were just a few up-and-coming comics who made appearances on the show.

Despite being nominated for several Emmys in writing and receiving positive reviews from critics, the show was never able to gain widespread popularity beyond its initial following because of its status as a premium cable offering. In the wake of Mr. Show, the personnel at Warner Bros. Pictures got together and wrote the screenplay for Run, Ronnie, Run. The movie was an expansion of a sketch from the show’s first season. Unfortunately for Cross and Odenkirk, the studio took over editing duties without consulting them, and the two actors ultimately rejected the finished movie.

1 Achieving A Successful Acting Career In Hollywood

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Odenkirk’s role as shady attorney Saul Goodman in the AMC series Breaking Bad began in 2009. Peter Gould, the show’s writer, and others saw Odenkirk in Mr. Show and were instantly impressed. Odenkirk’s performance in the role of Goodman convinced Gould and Vince Gilligan to make the character a recurring one for the rest of the second season. For seasons three through five of the sitcom, Odenkirk starred as Goodman regularly. One of the most acclaimed television series of all time is Breaking Bad.

Despite this, Odenkirk confessed on Off Camera with Sam Jones that he had not seen the show before arriving on set. Saul was written off as a little player, but Odenkirk’s stellar performance elevated him to series regular status. Odenkirk told Howard Stern that he had financial difficulties before getting the role, so the chance timing couldn’t have been better. With his great performance on the show, the producers decided to make a spinoff series based on his character on the show and he will be playing the lead role titled Better Call Saul. The cast of Breaking Bad quickly became household names and as the show’s popularity grew, his show also gains more interest.  Better Call Saul became as popular as  Breaking Bad and it ended up running for six seasons which was just finished this year. With his role as Saul his retirement will be stellar, Bob Odenkirk was no longer the unseen force behind the scenes, crafting jokes for the likes of Chris Farley and David Cross. Presenting the words of others with his unique flair, he was now being seen on millions of screens worldwide.

READ NEXT: Every Breaking Bad Character To Have Crossed Over Into Better Call Saul (So Far)

Source: NY Times, Cheat Sheet, The Things

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