The Isolation Of Filming Undone Season 2 Wasn't Easy For Bob Odenkirk

"Undone" is impressive for many reasons, but its ability to combine wildly different genres might be the biggest. On the one hand, there's the stark depiction of listless 20-year-old Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar) and her family drama, which makes the show so emotionally affecting. On the other, there's the wild time and space-bending sci-fi adventure featuring the ghost of her late father, Jacob Winograd (Bob Odenkirk). In the show's first season, after a car accident gives Alma the ability to traverse space and time, she embarks on a multi-dimensional journey to try to solve the mystery of her father's death.

To help pull off such an ambitiously innovative project, "BoJack Horseman" alums Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy used rotoscoping — an animation style created by tracing over real footage. This same technique was used by Richard Linklater in his movies "Waking Life" and "A Scanner Darkly," and was chosen for "Undone" by Dutch animator Hisko Hulsing, who worked on the HBO doc "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck," as well as his own short film projects, "Junkyard" and "Seventeen."

That meant "Undone" would go through a complex process to bring its two seasons to fruition, with production taking place between Los Angeles, Austin, and Amsterdam. As The New Times reported in 2019, the live-action elements were shot on a black box set "where actors worked with little more than tape markings as guides and apple boxes as props." Once the pandemic hit, that already sparse filming process became even more unfamiliar territory for most of the actors involved, not least Odenkirk.

'I need you! Please help me!'

The "Better Call Saul" star had come up in the improv comedy world, performing alongside other legends such as Chris Farley as part of Chicago's Improv Olympic and the Second City improv troupe. As such, Bob Odenkirk was used to playing off other performers and their reactions, which seemingly served him well when he made the leap to dramatic acting later in his career, most notably with "Breaking Bad."

But "Undone" was a totally new experience. As Bob-Waksberg told IndieWire in August 2022, "This show already requires a fair amount of imagination from our actors, because they're not on location, they're not in sets. It's green screen. They're just in a big, empty room." Things only got harder in season 2, when the producers were forced to further limit the amount of people they'd have on-set due to COVID concerns. This meant only two or three actors were allowed to be physically present in a scene, while "big foam heads" were often used to represent further scene partners if they were required.

For his part, Odenkirk pushed through the unfamiliar filming style, having to shoot most scenes completely alone. The actor was unsurprisingly glad when he did get to work with others. As Kate Purdy recalled:

"I remember also seeing Bob [Odenkirk], who did a lot of work alone, finally get to do work with Rosa [Salazar] and Angelique [Cabral], and just grab their arms and say, 'I need you! Please help me!' Having to act alone is really very difficult. You have no one to play off."

Odenkirk was basically isolated the entire time

Speaking to Looper in April 2022, Bob Odenkirk revealed more about his experience shooting "Undone" season 2, revealing that it was all filmed "during the worst parts of COVID" and that he only had one scene where he actually got to act opposite another physically present actor:

"You had the challenge of acting opposite nothing and trying to recall the people. Rosa Salazar is one of my favorite people, I love to act with her, I love to hang around with her. It was a bummer that I couldn't do the season with her."

It seems the feeling is mutual, with Salazar telling The Hollywood Reporter that working with Odenkirk was "the highlight of [her] entire career," and that she "grew up idolizing" him.

All of this makes it a real shame that the second season had to be filmed in such an isolated way. Luckily, this wasn't obvious when it finally debuted in April 2022, stunning audiences not so much with its technical innovations but with its affecting story. It finished in such a way that a third season isn't absolutely crucial to giving "Undone" a satisfactory ending — and, thus far, there's been no formal announcement about a third season. But it would be great to see such an original show return, especially if it gave Odenkirk and Salazar a chance to actually, you know, act together, and not with foam heads.