After His Own Health Scare, Bob Odenkirk Plays A Man Coming Back To Life In His Latest Series, ‘Lucky Hank’
Bob Odenkirk originally wanted to be a novelist.
He took inspiration from the legendary Jack Kerouac, having read all of his books and calling them his “guide”.
“I probably read it Traveling three times or more,” explains Odenkirk. “Yes, I was one of those kids at that age — in my freshman years of college and even just out of college.”
But then he discovered that sketch comedy “was something I’ve been doing since I was 11 and I was like, wow, you’ve been doing this all the time. Why don’t you try to make a career out of it?”
And he did.
Now he has spent years playing Saul Goodman, first as a supporting character in breaking Badand then as a lead-in Better call Saul.
His latest screen project is Lucky Hankwhich is based on the novel heterosexual man by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo.
In the series, Odenkirk plays Hank Devereaux, a reluctant chair of an English department at a severely underfunded college in the Pennsylvania Rust Belt, who grapples daily in his classrooms with the millennials and the eccentric staff members, navigating his own internal ambivalence about the state of his career .
The series was created by Paul Lieberstein and Aaron Zelman in collaboration with Academy Award-winning director Peter Farrelly and Academy Award- and Emmy-winning producer Mark Johnson to bring this series to life. Johnson is serving as executive producer, with Lieberstein and Zelman serving as co-showrunners.
Zelman says he was drawn to the material because it’s “smart people doing stupid things, which is always funny to me.”
Lieberstein adds, “And the huge stakes of very small things, like, you know, who, who gets this office?”
“Or who gets the parking lot,” says Zelman.
Marielle Enos, who plays Hank’s wife Lily, adds, “That’s what attracted me the most about the show because at that moment in my life I was like, ‘I want to tell a story about people and the things that we communicate about To worry [in] the middle moments of our lives, such as B. what are we actually thinking about, worrying about?’ And the ridiculousness of real life. Life is absurd, you know? It’s funny and sad and all shattered. And this show captures just that; the ridiculousness of being human.”
Odenkirk says his character “zombified himself”. “He cast a spell on himself and shut himself down years ago. But he comes back to life, and that’s what the show is about from my point of view.”
This is an interesting analysis from Odenkirk’s side, as he himself suffered a life-threatening heart attack while at work in 2021 Better call Saul, Apparently he had recovered sufficiently to resume his work and, more importantly, his life.
Comparing Hank Devereaux to Saul Bellows, Odenkirk says, “I also like this character because he’s more my age and I wouldn’t say I’m a perfect match for him, but his perspective is a better fit for mine. Saul was tough because he was kind of a very younger guy than me. He was only mentally younger. He looked at the world at one – he really was a more innocent guy, even though he’s a scammer. He had a hope and an innocence about him that I think I left behind a long time ago. And this guy is more like me. He’s more cynical. He’s also an idealist, but that’s what a real cynic is, I think, deep down.”
He explains this idea a little further, adding: “These people we call cynics are idealists whose feelings are hurt every day because the world isn’t what they hoped it would be. True cynics are the people who brazenly do cruel and horrible things and don’t seem to have any real sadness, conscience, or guilt. They don’t have that dimension at all. That’s a cynic.”
Of the relatively quick transition from Saul to Hank, Odenkirk says, “It was long enough time to grow a beard. I’m growing a pretty good beard I’d say. If the beard had grown more slowly, it might have taken me a week or two. But after Saul it went really really fast.”
But it was enough time for the actor to snap in “this wonderful trip with my family that I’ve been waiting for for years,” he says.
Odenkirk wants to make that clear Lucky Hank, in his words: “We don’t have zombies. We don’t have drugs, we don’t have guns, we have people. People, people on display, struggling, struggling, trying to establish their confidence, trying to love each other.”
And will he ever write this novel?
“No,” he says empathetically, adding, “I’m not a good enough writer in that respect. If you read my memoirs, you’ll know what I mean. I could hardly get a memory out, which isn’t asking much. Just tell us what happened to you.”
But, he says, “here’s what I have in me – a children’s book coming out next year.”
“Lucky Hank” premieres Sunday, March 19thth on AMC at 9e/p and will be available to stream on AMC+ after the premiere.
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