Rhea Seehorn may have started Better Call Saul as the mysterious smoker in the Hamlin Hamlin & McGill parking garage, but by this week’s episode, “Bingo,” we not only see what Kim Wexler is like as a lawyer, but also how much she means to Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk).
Rotten Tomatoes interviewed Seehorn about her character and why she likes Jimmy so much. [Warning: Contains spoilers for episode 107, “Bingo.”]
Sarah Ricard for Rotten Tomatoes: One thing I like about your character is that I think she comes off as a very funny person. Can you speak a little bit about how the humor finds its way into Kim’s character?
Rhea Seehorn: I love that you find her funny because people keep telling me that. You’re right — it’s not like there are a lot of jokes written — but I feel like Vince and Peter, as well as Gennifer Hutchison in this episode and all of our other really great writers, they write very clever turns of phrases. I was extremely excited to say the Cracker Barrel line, so that part’s not lost on me. But for the most part, a lot of the humor comes out of who the person is and Kim is very much someone who’s as much about what she doesn’t say as what she does say. I find her to be less talkative than Jimmy. It’s almost like the whole male-female role [is reversed]. She’s less emotional… She and Jimmy enjoy each other’s wit, which is always fun to play.
You start to get a feel for tone when you’re on set, and I knew that this was going to be 80 percent drama and 20 percent dark humor, but they write so well, that it’s just character-driven. I know it sounds simplistic, but you play the scene and you try to come up with a three-dimensional character sketch and play within the parameters of that. And then it’s just the way they write; they say things that are darkly funny.
RT: Well, there are certainly funny lines like the Cracker Barrel one, but you have a way also of delivering lines that are very wry.
Seehorn: Yeah, she is wry. When Jimmy’s painting her nails and he says, “They should make them all the same size so that the big toes would be easier,” she just says, completely matter-of-factly, “Yeah, that would be really attractive.” I thought of her as someone who would be more the person at a party who, if you were standing close enough to them and you hear what they say, it would probably be funny, but she’s not the one who’s going to, like, make a joke.
RT: Kim seems like a real person that way. How much do they clue you in to Kim’s backstory and how much do you need to infer or create?
Seehorn: They gave you a little bit when we all got together and starting talking and you get the general tone and arc of the show — that this is an origin story for Saul, and as you saw in last week’s episode [“Five-O”], Mike Ehrmantraut. They don’t fill in a lot of information, but it isn’t as if they’re withholding; it’s that they’re smart enough to leave themselves the space to create new stories and come up with new things as they’re going. So it’s not nailed down and handed to you, but at the same time, it’s been an interesting experience because it’s kind of exciting that you don’t fill it all in yourself either. You usually get the script about three days before you shoot and a lot of times you go left instead of right. Because it’s Vince and Peter, it never feels like a stunt, which is cool. It feels like it was always part of the fabric of that person and you start coloring in things more and more.
So there’s stuff I try to fill in myself and a lot of stuff that’s uncovered rehearsing the scenes — with Bob or with Patrick Fabian — and you start to realize that the situation dictates what your character would do and you start to understand the subtext behind it. They don’t give you a whole backstory bio.
RT: What do you think Kim sees in Jimmy?
Seehorn: I think that through Kim, you get to see a very relaxed Jimmy who doesn’t have to try hard. Kim doesn’t pass judgement. She’s a confidant and will very much weigh in and give her opinion and they give each other a hard time sometimes, but I think she sees a very charming, very charismatic guy who is very funny and she’s a good audience. Kim will say, “Tell me the story again about the Toilet Buddy guy.” She will totally sit there and listen to some of his riffs.
I think she enjoys his intelligence and his humor and I think they have a lot in common. They didn’t come from much and they’re both very scrappy people about trying to get ahead and make something of yourself. I think that when Kim smiles when Jimmy does that billboard stunt — while nobody can see her — that’s genuine. He’s a guy who cannot be kept down. And you see that in tonight’s episode. After everything that goes wrong, he still answers the phone in his fake British assistant voice. I deeply admire that.
RT: That Betsy Kettleman is piece of work, isn’t she?
Seehorn: Julie Ann Emery and Jeremy Shamos are both brilliant. With everything that Julie says, the lines are driven by character and it’s just so much fun to play against. I almost had to sit on my hands in this scene because, again, as Kim, a lot of the humor in that scene is what Kim can’t say — but we all know what Kim is thinking, which is, “You are f—ing crazy. I’m going to punch you in the face.” I’ve been up until three or four in the morning, trying to pull together any — any — possible solution for you guys and you’re acting like spoiled brats. It’s so frustrating. But Jeremy Shamos, on the other hand, I could see peripherally the whole time his wife is talking for him, and he’s a study in physically inhabiting this person who’s trying so hard to have any say-so in his destiny. It’s so great to get to play with them. And it was so great to see that Kim’s a good lawyer!
RT: What was your interpretation of that last scene with Jimmy kicking the office door?
Seehorn: I think it falls in line with the other seeds that Vince and Peter have been sowing for the whole series. Jimmy is searching for his destiny and you’re watching somebody who keeps trying to be good, and the parameters within which he can do that keep shifting and changing. I just think it’s so interesting and smart of them that they’ve written it that way with people who are having to struggle against what you thought you would be when you grew up — for any of us — the kind of person you thought you’d be.
I was surprised in this episode with how quickly Hamlin completely throws me under the bus. I think that’s something Kim has to take in. There’s a lot of wonderful things in the script and it’s a big one for Jimmy. How many times does he have to keep banging his head into the wall? And, in the end, he still pops back up. I think that he knows that Kim couldn’t work there and they handle that scene so well. Again, it’s great to see this real, three-dimensional woman. It has nothing to do with not personally loving Jimmy. These people [at HHM] put me through law school. I owe them money. They did a great job of showing both sides of that, like, “As a friend, why are you even asking me?” It’s a tough situation.