'Nobody' Star Bob Odenkirk Would Make More Action Movies In A Heartbeat [Interview]

Bob Odenkirk plays a familiar but new action hero in Nobody. "Hero" might even be a stretch for the family man who goes back to his old violent ways, but Odenkirk grounds and livens up the archetypal hero. We see a man who's not the biggest guy in the room dealing with exhaustion and pain. It's a nice change of pace from a typical studio action movie.

It's a change, too, that Odenkirk never imagined in his career until Better Call Saul. The actor, whose own experience with a home invasion inspired this film, has been with the project since its earliest days. After the experience of starring in his first major action movie, Odenkirk told us he'd gladly star in more action movies if given the call.

The acclaimed actor sat down with us over Zoom and told us about the similarities between comedy and action, as well as his desire to star in more action films in the future.

This is an action hero who actually feels exhaustion. You see how tiring the fights are. I appreciated that, but [director Ilya Naishuller] said I should mention that to you. Why?

Right from the start, I felt like if I could do something in this genre that would be unique. It would be, I could play a far more human person than we often see action leads play. Very often, they either are a superhero, in which case they're from another planet, or they're almost a robot that fights and has a certainty to the fact that they'll win and that their skills are so high, they're beyond a human level of skill.

I thought I could bring a human side to it and maintain the character in the fights and feel the pain and suffering. And honestly, Jack, I was concerned that I overdid that. I told Ilya only that afterward when it was done. I was concerned that I overplayed the pain, that the guy experienced and the exhaustion. He told me, "No." He thought it was perfect.

But we're so used to the heroes fighting and they're okay. They're built to fight. And this guy makes a choice. He has this background, but he's rusty, but he just gets the shit kicked out of him, and I wanted to play it. And so, I hope it works for people, resonates with them, makes them smile, makes them see this in a different light, a variation on this genre but I was concerned that I overdid it.

When you're working with the stunt coordinators, the beats you have to hit, it's like a dance. Maybe this is a stretch, but the marks and beats you have to hit, did it feel similar to comedy?

Yes. In fact, the fight sequences, the closest thing I could bring them to were comedy sketches. They have a limited run, they have a little story, they have a beginning, middle, and end. There's a cleverness when you do it right, and you find these clever moments that keep you awake and keep the audience awake and surprises them, and make them laugh.

These action sequences, as bloody and brutal as they are, are funny. You can't help but laugh. You have nothing to do but gasp and laugh. And I love them. I love it. And the truth is, making it, the closest thing I can compare it to is writing comedy, in a room of comedy writers, laughing and trying to solve problems in the sketch, in this idea. And then coming up with ideas that just make you howl.

You've said you approach roles as a writer first. With that in mind, how'd you initially look at Hutch?

Well, I did contribute to the idea. The idea came from me, of the dad and that he has this past and the break-ins. Those are the things I experienced in my real life. And they left me with a lot of lingering frustration and anger that I wanted to use, to inform this character. And in fact, I had a break-in and kept the damage to a minimum.

It was very dramatic and traumatic for my family. And I even had a police officer say, "That's not what I would have done." I sort of kept things cool and didn't react in a physical way, which left me feeling a little bit of shame and a little unsure of myself, although I'm sure I did the right thing. It just didn't feel right.

But the writing then became mythic as Derek Kolstad took the story and blew it up and up and up. I could certainly relate to the feelings that, of course, through the first 45 minutes of this movie and a family situation and the struggle of a couple that's been together for a long time and sort of start to look at each other and say, "Do you remember who I was? Do you remember I used to do shit all by myself, on my own, and I didn't have to ask, and I didn't have to check in with anyone?" It's that feeling. I think both people in a couple have that feeling and a bit of a feeling of being smothered and needing to risk and go out in the world. And of course, you should not get in a fight, but rather do something adventurous every once in a while in your life.

The first big fight you have on the bus, where do you start preparing for a scene that intricate?

Well, the training, the choreography, and the planning of the bus fight go back to when the movie script was being written. So they go way back. I had two contributions, one being I want to hit my head. The first thing I want to do is hit my head on a bar like a real dad would do. He goes to hit somebody, and he swings the wrong way, and he hits his head. Because I think I'll be immensely relatable in that moment, and you've never seen an action star since Jackie Chan do that. And he did it very broadly for comedy. I wanted to do it for pathetic-ism, just human, pathetic-ism.

Did you have a long ambition to make a movie like this?

No. It started around the second season of Better Call Saul and a feeling that my character in this show is a character who is almost like the DNA of an action lead. He wants things. He wants them earnestly and honestly, and he fails, and he never quit trying. And I thought, "That's an action character, except he doesn't fight." Everything else about him, though, is. He's devious. He does whatever it takes. That's an action lead. So I committed to learning to fight and doing my own fighting. But honestly, the chances of any movie getting made are so small, Jack, that I did think it was a crazy long shot.

After this experience, though, are you open to making more action movies?

I would do it in a heartbeat. I loved making the action sequences. I love training for it. I love the cleverness of it. I love the engagement of your brain and your body. And so, yes, the answer is yes. On the other hand, I do continue to do everything that I did before. I'm writing a project right now, with David Cross.

Oh, great.

A pure comedy project. And I'm writing some dramas that are closer to a Better Call Saul in style and tone. So I would happily do it. Listen, the audience gets to weigh in on what works and doesn't work and what you should do and not do.