Better Call Saul Star Julie Ann Emery on Breaking Bad World Return – The Hollywood Reporter

[This interview contains spoilers for Better Call Saul season six, episode “Carrot and Stick.”]

After seven years, Better Call Saul remains to be maintaining with the Kettlemans.

Julie Ann Emery and Jeremy Shamos’ Betsy and Craig Kettleman have lastly returned to the Breaking Bad universe on AMC in episode two of Better Call Saul’s sixth-and-final season, “Carrot and Stick.” 

Originally, the white-collar criminals have been solely supposed to seem in a few season one episodes, however their roles shortly expanded as soon as the solid and crew fell in love with the husband-and-wife crooks. When the primary season finally premiered in 2015, the viewers adopted go well with because the suburban outlaws turned fan favorites very quickly.

While Emery and Shamos have reprised their roles 4 occasions by varied mediums over time, the large query was whether or not the writers’ room may discover a correct approach to convey them again into the mothership.

“The writers have been speaking about bringing us again for a very long time, and [co-creator] Peter [Gould] has reached out a number of occasions, saying, ‘We’re searching for a great way to convey you guys again, however it has to make sense for the story,’” Emery tells The Hollywood Reporter.

The Kettlemans final appeared in season one’s “Bingo,” as Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) pressured Craig to face the music concerning his $1.6 million embezzlement rap. Season six’s second episode now catches up with the crime duo a pair years later as Betsy and Craig personal and function Sweet Liberty Tax Services. Even although Craig simply served as many as sixteen months in jail, the Kettlemans are nonetheless as much as their outdated tips as they routinely pocket ins and outs of their older clientele’s tax refunds.

“I all the time thought that they have been nonetheless doing a little type of grift and that they felt entitled. So it didn’t shock me in any respect that they have been nonetheless doing one thing … unlawful,” Emery says.

In a current dialog with THR, Emery additionally discusses Betsy being a harbinger of the “Karen” wave, as she additionally delves into the shocking methods through which the Kettlemans impressed Saul Goodman’s well-known regulation workplace from Breaking Bad.

When you wrapped Jenn Carroll and Ariel Levine’s season three-adjacent quick movie, No Picnic, did you assume that may be your one-and-only return as Betsy Kettleman?

So I’ve assumed that I used to be carried out with Betsy three or 4 occasions. When Jeremy Shamos and I completed season one’s “Bingo,” we, because the Kettlemans, gave kettle corn to the crew, and I believed that was our goodbye. And then the stunning No Picnic occurred. Ariel and Jenn are wildly gifted, and Jenn, who’s producing now, was the on-set producer for episode two of season six. She’s improbable. So we shot [season six, episode two] a 12 months in the past, and I assumed that may be it as effectively. Jeremy and I’ve thought this time and again. And then we got here again once more for the American Greed episode. We shot that in March of this 12 months, in order that turnaround was very quick. So we thought we had mentioned goodbye to the Kettlemans as soon as season six wrapped, however all of the sudden, Vince had an thought for a Better Call SaulBreaking Bad crossover on American Greed.

And who delivered the excellent news that you just’d return for the ultimate season’s “Carrot and Stick”?

Well, the official excellent news was delivered by my agent, however after we did the Inside the Gilliverse podcast [in August 2020], we did the podcast in character, because the Kettlemans. And [Better Call Saul executive producer] Tom Schnauz was the co-host of that present. And as a result of it was all going to be improvised, we had a bit of sit-down with Tom earlier than the present to verify we didn’t wade into territory that may get us in hassle. Season six had not began capturing but, in order that was after we came upon that our return was on the horizon. We have been thrilled.

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Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman, Julie Ann Emery as Betsy Kettleman, Jeremy Shamos as Craig Kettleman in ‘Better Call Saul’ episode “Carrot and Stick.”
Courtesy of Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Did you and Jeremy slide proper again into these roles? It appeared that approach as a viewer.

So I discover Betsy terrifying to play as an actor as a result of the pocket for her is about six inches large. If you go exterior that pocket, it’s simply dangerous appearing, and no one desires to be dangerous within the Breaking BadBetter Call Saul universe as a result of everyone seems to be sensible in it. I by no means really feel I’ve her till I’m with Jeremy, and I feel Jeremy has an identical expertise. We created them very collaboratively, extra so than every other factor I’ve ever carried out on display. Until we’re behaving collectively because the Kettlemans, we don’t have them. So after we arrived in Albuquerque, the very first thing we did was get collectively and run strains and speak till we slid again into issues. So I don’t suppose she’s the simplest position to slip again into, however she is essentially the most thrilling. 

Betsy and Craig have realized a factor or two since Craig was imprisoned for embezzling $1.6 million. They’re now stealing a lot smaller quantities from individuals’s tax refunds. Were you remotely shocked that they have been nonetheless operating their sport in dribs and drabs?

The writers have been speaking about bringing us again for a very long time, and [co-creator] Peter [Gould] has reached out a number of occasions, saying, “We’re searching for a great way to convey you guys again, however it has to make sense for the story.” But I all the time thought that they have been nonetheless doing a little type of grift and that they felt entitled. So it didn’t shock me in any respect that they have been nonetheless doing one thing barely off-center. I assume Betsy would see it that approach, however they’re nonetheless doing one thing unlawful.

Watching the Internet over the previous couple of years and seeing the rise of the “Karens” has been actually surprising to me. Maybe these individuals have all the time existed, however they’re simply popping out of the woodwork and making themselves very vocal on the Internet. There are in all probability extra movies to look at now that everybody has a digital camera on them always. But there are these folks that really feel entitled to no matter they deem good for their lives and their households. And that’s very a lot Betsy. So she doesn’t see the regulation as her barometer. They must climb out of no matter monetary state of affairs they’re in now, and he or she’s discovered a approach to try this. And I say she as a result of I very a lot suppose that Mr. Kettleman simply goes together with it. But he’s a bit of extra vocal now than he was. Prison modified him a bit of bit. He’s prepared to say, “Mr. McGill! It’s so good to see you,” in entrance of Betsy, despite the fact that he is aware of that’s going to make her offended. Mr. Kettleman is so humorous; he sort of grew a cheerful pair in jail, which is attention-grabbing to me. (Laughs.)

Yeah, Craig tends to guide with kindness till Betsy snaps him again into place. She in all probability wasn’t thrilled together with his “mazel tov” in response to Jimmy and Kim’s marriage announcement.

He will get himself into hassle rather a lot, so she has to look out for him. (Laughs.)

But I’m glad you introduced up the “Karen” phenomenon as a result of each time a type of movies popped up through the early days of the pandemic, I’d instantly consider Betsy Kettleman and the way forward of the curve Better Call Saul was.

Yeah, Jeremy and I actually found these characters collectively and really symbiotically. No one fairly knew what the Kettlemans have been going to be in that first episode of Better Call Saul, they usually did some rewriting for us after that episode. We did rather more in season one than we have been ever alleged to, which is such a praise and such a luxurious on tv. It by no means actually occurs on TV. But on the time, Jeremy and I have been sending one another YouTube movies and documentaries. For instance, the Governor of Virginia and his spouse [Robert F. McDonnell and Virginia McDonnell] have been being indicted on the time for taking kickbacks. In Los Angeles, there was the City of Bell scandal, which was on NPR on a regular basis. It was about a whole metropolis council that took 1 / 4 million {dollars} a 12 months in wage, when the city couldn’t afford the police’s salaries. And in case you take heed to these NPR interviews, they actually discovered nothing unsuitable with what they have been doing. So it was simply beginning to creep into the zeitgeist at that time, however within the seven years since, we’ve actually seen this particular model of white lady emerge. And they’re very vocal, however I’d additionally say it’s individuals normally. So it’s alarming to me despite the fact that it needs to be satisfying as an artist. So Better Call Saul was forward of the curve that approach, however I discover the shortage of morality or the shortage of an ethical compass very disturbing. And that’s what Better Call Saul is all about. And now in season six, we’re watching Kim and Jimmy’s morality waver much more, which simply makes Better Call Saul the proper present for proper now.

So the final time Kim (Rhea Seehorn) noticed Betsy, Kim had been demoted to HHM’s “cornfield” for dropping the Kettlemans as shoppers, after which Jimmy had to assist treatment the state of affairs. And since Kim doesn’t like being able the place she will be able to’t resolve her personal issues, you possibly can inform from this newest episode that she nonetheless harbors resentment in direction of Betsy. So what was Kim’s payback scene like for you?

Well, initially, Rhea and I are associates in life, and being together with her, Bob and Vince on set once more was an absolute pleasure. The flipside of that was Tom Schnauz and Ariel Levine wrote such a superb script they usually wrote Betsy so fantastically on this script. That explicit scene has such a giant arc for Betsy, so I principally had some anxiousness about dwelling as much as it. I learn that scene, after which my husband [Kevin Earley] requested, “How’s the script?” And I mentioned, “I simply hope I can reside as much as what the writing is right here.” But with Vince behind the digital camera, it was a lot simpler as an actor as a result of I belief him so utterly. So it was demanding within the sense of pulling it off, however it was an absolute pleasure of being again within the sandbox with Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn and Jeremy Shamos. It was a very lovely day, and we spent the entire day on it.

Rhea was all the time good, however since your final Betsy-Kim scene in season one, are you able to inform that she’s reached an entire new degree as an actor?

I feel that all the time lived in Rhea. I adopted her work for a very long time, notably her comedy work. She’s all the time had plenty of vary and plenty of depth. I feel she and Kim have grown collectively on the similar time, which is so distinctive and exquisite to see on the present. Even now, it’s such a singular factor to see for feminine characters. It’s attractive.

From now on, everytime you see exterior photographs of Saul Goodman’s workplace, you’re going to know that the Kettlemans impressed his use of the Statue of Liberty inflatable. How cool is that? [Writer’s Note: Saul took another page out of the Kettlemans’ playbook as “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was playing in his office on Breaking Bad season five, episode nine, just like it was in the Kettlemans’ office on Better Call Saul season six, episode two.]

(Laughs.) That was written into 602’s script, and after we confirmed up for our first day on that exact set, it was already inflated and blowing within the wind. I used to be like, “Oh my god, there it’s!” It’s a giant deal, and it’s actually cool. In season one, Betsy says to Jimmy, “You’re the sort of lawyer responsible individuals rent,” and that’s what he turns into. His future workplace is a a lot better take on what the Kettlemans have carried out with their trailer in the midst of a mud lot, however it’s a takeoff on what the Kettlemans did. So it’s extremely satisfying to see that thread all through to now.

Yeah, she was one of many first individuals to see Jimmy for who he actually is, and he or she additionally acknowledged the rip-off that Jimmy and Kim have been pulling on Howard (Patrick Fabian). She could act silly, however she’s not essentially a idiot.

Yeah, it’s attention-grabbing as a result of Betsy thinks she’s the neatest individual within the room. She thinks she’s enjoying chess whereas everyone else is enjoying marbles, which isn’t all the time true. But she’s not unsuitable about rather a lot. At its base, she’s not unsuitable about stuff, however she is morally unsuitable.

Which Betsy line acquired essentially the most response from the crew?

During the outside day, it was the “our children go to public college” line. That was very fulfilling for the crew. There was an entire collection of issues she accused Saul of that have been fairly hilarious. And for the report, I went to public college.

As far as your current work as Betsy, what’s your new favourite line?

I’ve such a troublesome time selecting a single favourite line, however one in all my favourite strains could be within the [Valerie Chu-written] American Greed episode. It’s so Betsy-specific, however it’s when Craig says, “We’re victims.” And then Betsy seems to be on the digital camera and says, “We’re survivors.” That sounds bizarre as a result of it’s not essentially the most difficult line, however it’s so on the core of Betsy. 

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

Better Call Saul airs Mondays on AMC.



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