The comedian and actor Bob Odenkirk, now appearing in the final season of Better Call Saul, spoke to us on big families, helpless parents, and why the anchors on Fox News will never, ever be funny.
Who were your heroes growing up?
My scoutmasters. My dad wasn’t around at all, so I was always looking for men who I could look up to.
You’re one of seven siblings. How was it growing up in such a big family?
I loved it. My father was a flake—a selfish, alcoholic, immature person—so there was a lot of stress. The kids all supported each other and had a lot of laughs together. We just joked around like crazy and played and had a blast.
How should a man handle getting older?
You’ve got to tighten up the corners. Work harder. Time is running out.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
We had been promised some money to develop Mr. Show, but the money wasn’t coming. I was getting antsy and frustrated, even angry. So my manager, Bernie Brillstein, goes, “Hey, a million dollars is still a million dollars.” It resonated with me. It sounds like it’s just about money, but it isn’t. It’s about how when you get wrapped up in your own drive, it’s very easy to forget what you’re asking of other people.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
Probably my mother. She worked really, really hard to raise all her kids. She has real backbone and very strong principles, but she can laugh all day long. It was an interesting mix and a great one.
How should a man handle criticism?
When he’s young, he should say, “Fuck you.” When he gets older, he should go, “No, you’re right.”
What human trait do most admire?
A sense of humor. Funny people make me really happy. And it’s interesting: People I don’t like tend not to be funny. They can’t be funny. Have you ever watched the people on Fox News when they try to be funny? Oh my God, it’s embarrassing. It tells you something about dimensions that are missing in their points of view.
What role should vanity play in a man’s life?
Be vain about your private principles, not your physical self.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Will you calm down? Just calm down. Go home and go to sleep.
What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?
You love your kids with everything you have, but you can’t fix their situations. You have to be a coach on the sidelines and you can’t get out there with them.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Mark Twain. Shakespeare. David Cross. Lucia Berlin, the writer. Her work is just amazing. And Marjorie Gross, a comedy writer who wrote really funny shit. She died young, and I didn’t get to work with her.
How should a man handle regret?
People who don’t have regrets, like our wonderful president, scare me. You should have some regrets. Hopefully you’ve done a lot of things, and some of them were wrong, and you recognized it and let it resonate through your life. It’s a good thing.
How do you want to be remembered when you’re gone?
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