Bob Odenkirk shares his journey to becoming an action star in ‘Nobody’
By PETER SBLENDORIO | New York Daily News | Published: March 26, 2021
Bob Odenkirk got a kick out of playing a punch-throwing, weapon-wielding action hero.
Known for his decades of comedy and leading role in the drama series “Better Call Saul,” the actor is excited for the world to see him star as a suburban dad with a suppressed set of skills in the new thriller “Nobody.”
“Most of the action stars, we’ve just seen them do so much amazing stuff, and they sort of live in that genre,” Odenkirk told the Daily News. “They stay there. You just don’t for a second buy them as a regular person. By having me do this, I think the audience [knows] what they’re coming to see, but they still go, ‘I don’t know if this guy’s going to be able to win this fight.’”
Odenkirk, 58, portrays Hutch Mansell, a man with a mysterious backstory who left behind a career in combat to start a family. He’s thrust back into action after a break-in at his home taps into the pent-up frustration he’s feeling amid the monotony of his new life.
The concept for the movie, out Friday in theaters, came together after Odenkirk’s brother-in-law texted him about an advertisement in China for “Better Call Saul,” the popular spinoff of the crime drama “Breaking Bad” that stars Odenkirk as lawyer Jimmy McGill.
The presence of that ad overseas inspired Odenkirk to consider other projects that could reach people all around the world.
“I started thinking about my character in ‘Better Call Saul’ that people in other countries know me from,” Odenkirk said. “They don’t know my comedy. They know ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul.’ That character is Jimmy McGill. He’s like a striver who fails over and over and never quits, and is very earnest in his drives and kind of puts his heart on his sleeve. I thought, that’s basically an action character, except he doesn’t fight, but otherwise all the other components are there.”
Derek Kolstad, creator of the “John Wick” movies, signed on to write the script for “Nobody,” while Ilya Naishuller joined as director.
Preparation for the role included rigorous training for Odenkirk, who learned how to do his own stunts and was coached on how to use guns for the movie.
Odenkirk trained with celebrated stuntman Daniel Bernhardt — a process that saw the actor begin by practicing the basic moves and exercises “over and over and over,” he said.
“It was a long road, man,” Odenkirk recalled. “Look, I was a comedy writer for 25 years. I started exercising when I was around 30, just cardio. The core of this screen fighting is movement from your hips, so I hadn’t really done any of that until I started doing this training. It was a long road, man. It was embarrassing for most of it.”
Odenkirk won Emmys as a writer for “Saturday Night Live” and “The Ben Stiller Show,” and has received nine nominations as an actor and producer for “Better Call Saul.”
“Nobody” — which also stars Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd and RZA — allowed Odenkirk to challenge himself in ways he never had before.
“No film as violent and bloody as this film was ever made with more love,” Odenkirk said with a laugh. “I’m not kidding. Everyone contributed. If you go down that list of credits, everyone is the best at what they do, and all still very excited to do what they do.”