‘Better Call Saul’ Star Julie Ann Emery on Return of Her Fan-Favorite Character and That Unexpected “Karen” Connection

[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.

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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 had been solely supposed to seem in a pair of season one episodes, however their roles rapidly expanded as soon as the forged and crew fell in love with the husband-and-wife crooks. When the primary season finally premiered in 2015, the viewers adopted swimsuit because the suburban outlaws grew to become fan favorites very quickly.

While Emery and Shamos have reprised their roles 4 instances via numerous mediums through the years, the massive query was whether or not the writers’ room may discover a correct method to carry 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 instances, saying, ‘We’re on the lookout for a great way to carry 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) compelled 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 previous methods as they routinely pocket bits and bobs of their older clientele’s tax refunds.

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

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

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

So I’ve assumed that I used to be performed with Betsy three or 4 instances. When Jeremy Shamos and I completed season one’s “Bingo,” we, because the Kettlemans, gave kettle corn to the crew, and I assumed that was our goodbye. And then the stunning No Picnic occurred. Ariel and Jenn are wildly proficient, 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 yr in the past, and I assumed that might be it as nicely. Jeremy and I’ve thought this over and over once more. And then we got here again once more for the American Greed episode. We shot that in March of this yr, 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 via my agent, however once 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 little bit sit-down with Tom earlier than the present to ensure we didn’t wade into territory which may get us in hassle. Season six had not began taking pictures but, in order that was once we discovered that our return was on the horizon. We had been thrilled.

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

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

Courtesy of Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Did you and Jeremy slide proper again into these roles? It appeared that means 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 vast. If you go exterior that pocket, it’s simply dangerous appearing, and no person needs 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 the same expertise. We created them very collaboratively, extra so than another factor I’ve ever performed on display. Until we’re behaving collectively because the Kettlemans, we don’t have them. So once 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 function to slip again into, however she is probably 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 had been nonetheless operating their recreation 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 instances, saying, “We’re on the lookout for a great way to carry you guys again, however it has to make sense for the story.” But I all the time thought that they had been nonetheless performing some type of grift and that they felt entitled. So it didn’t shock me in any respect that they had been nonetheless doing one thing barely off-center. I suppose Betsy would see it that means, 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 most likely extra movies to look at now that everybody has a digicam 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 legislation as her barometer. They must climb out of no matter monetary scenario they’re in now, and she’s discovered a means to do 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 little bit extra vocal now than he was once. Prison modified him a little bit bit. He’s prepared to say, “Mr. McGill! It’s so good to see you,” in entrance of Betsy, regardless that he is aware of that’s going to make her indignant. Mr. Kettleman is so humorous; he type of grew a contented pair in jail, which is attention-grabbing to me. (Laughs.)

Yeah, Craig tends to steer with kindness till Betsy snaps him again into place. She most likely 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 one of these movies popped up in the course of the early days of the pandemic, I might instantly suppose of Betsy Kettleman and how forward of the curve Better Call Saul was.

Yeah, Jeremy and I actually found these characters collectively and very symbiotically. No one fairly knew what the Kettlemans had been going to be in that first episode of Better Call Saul, and they did some rewriting for us after that episode. We did far more in season one than we had 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 had been sending one another YouTube movies and documentaries. For instance, the Governor of Virginia and his spouse [Robert F. McDonnell and Virginia McDonnell] had 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 complete metropolis council that took 1 / 4 million {dollars} a yr in wage, when the city couldn’t afford the police’s salaries. And in case you hearken to these NPR interviews, they actually discovered nothing flawed with what they had 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 might additionally say it’s individuals typically. So it’s alarming to me regardless that it must be satisfying as an artist. So Better Call Saul was forward of the curve that means, 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 shedding the Kettlemans as shoppers, and then Jimmy had to assist treatment the scenario. And since Kim doesn’t like being ready the place she will be able to’t remedy her personal issues, you’ll be able to inform from this newest episode that she nonetheless harbors resentment in the direction of Betsy. So what was Kim’s payback scene like for you?

Well, first of all, Rhea and I are buddies 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 an excellent script and they wrote Betsy so fantastically on this script. That explicit scene has such an enormous arc for Betsy, so I principally had some nervousness about dwelling as much as it. I learn that scene, and then my husband [Kevin Earley] requested, “How’s the script?” And I mentioned, “I simply hope I can stay as much as what the writing is right here.” But with Vince behind the digicam, it was a lot simpler as an actor as a result of I belief him so utterly. So it was aggravating 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 a complete 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 rather a lot of vary and rather a lot of depth. I feel she and Kim have grown collectively on the similar time, which is so distinctive and lovely 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 once 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 an enormous deal, and it’s actually cool. In season one, Betsy says to Jimmy, “You’re the type of lawyer responsible individuals rent,” and that’s what he turns into. His future workplace is a significantly better take on what the Kettlemans have performed with their trailer within the center of a dust lot, however it’s a takeoff on what the Kettlemans did. So it’s extremely satisfying to see that thread right through to now.

Yeah, she was one of the primary individuals to see Jimmy for who he actually is, and she additionally acknowledged the rip-off that Jimmy and Kim had 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 particular person 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 flawed about rather a lot. At its base, she’s not flawed about stuff, however she is morally flawed.

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

During the outside day, it was the “our youngsters go to public faculty” line. That was very pleasing for the crew. There was a complete sequence of issues she accused Saul of that had been fairly hilarious. And for the file, I went to public faculty.

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

I’ve such a troublesome time selecting a single favourite line, however one of my favourite strains is perhaps 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 on the digicam and says, “We’re survivors.” That sounds bizarre as a result of it’s not probably the most sophisticated 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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