FX’s “Fargo” (10 p.m. Tuesday) has been one of the best TV surprises of 2014. It’s easily the year’s best new hour-long series (apologies to the ponderous “True Detective”), a terrific mix of crime drama and dark comedy. And it’s filled with a terrific cast of character actors, including Bob Odenkirk, best known for playing Saul Goodman on AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”
He plays a police deputy who ascends to chief after his predecessor’s murder, but he’s a pretty lazy crime solver who doesn’t like to be second-guessed.
Mr. Odenkirk’s reaction to a possible “Fargo” TV series probably mirrored that of many fans of the 1996 Coen Brothers film.
“I love the movie,” he said. “I got the script and my first instinct on it was ‘please don’t ruin the movie I loved,’ and I would say by about page eight or nine of reading of the script, I felt, oh man, this is great. This is everything good. They took all the great vibe from the movie. Noah Hawley is the writer and he did all this work and he took what you can take and not take the specifics of the movie; and I could just tell it was very entertaining, so I wanted to go in on it and I just worked on my part and went in and I read for it and hoped that I would get it and I did.”
Mr. Odenkirk said his character, Bill Oswalt, surprised him with each episode and he especially appreciated how the character differs from Saul, Mr. Odenkirk’s role in “Breaking Bad” and its upcoming spinoff prequel, “Better Call Saul.”
“This guy is defiant, innocent and he’s fighting like hell to hang on to his innocence about the people around him; and then Saul is cynical and clever and he’s ahead of everyone and builds behind everyone in trying to maintain that,” Mr. Odenkirk said. “So, yes, just having played Saul, I was eager to play something like this and this is a great part for that reason.”
But Mr. Odenkirk will soon return to playing Saul when production begins on “Better Call Saul.”
“I haven’t read anything from ‘Better Call Saul,’ so I don’t know anything except the vibe I’ve gotten,” he said. “I guess I’d have to say the vibe I’ve gotten is that that show is going to be pretty intense and dark, so I think ‘Fargo’ might be more overtly comic and lighter than ‘Saul,’ but that’s just conjecture based on guesswork based on wishes on the wind.”
Mr. Odenkirk won’t let it lose too much of the comic vibe the Saul character brought to “Breaking Bad.”
“When things get dark around me in character, I find moments to play things to make things funny,” he said. “It’s good; it’s something to play against. It’s really a great vibe to have around you and find these funny little moments, so I think I’ll be making it funny.”
A version of this story first appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. TV writer Rob Owen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.