Jonathan Banks on Improvising Better Call Saul’s Memorable Line
After sitting out the final few episodes of Breaking Bad for storyline reasons, Jonathan Banks returned as a series regular in Better Call Saul, the prequel series that debuted on AMC earlier this year. Once again, Banks portrayed former cop Mike Ehrmantraut opposite Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy McGill, the future Saul Goodman.
And like clockwork, Banks has been nominated for a third time in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama category for this year’s Emmy Awards. Many observers cite Better Call Saul’s fifth episode, “Five-0” for giving Banks a spotlight storyline and a powerful dramatic scene in which Mike breaks down as he confesses the circumstances that led to his son’s murder by his fellow cops.
In a new interview with Yahoo TV, Banks confirms earlier reports that he ad-libbed Mike’s line, “I broke my boy!” “It did [happen organically],” said Banks. “Fathers, mothers who have ever lost a child would immediately, I think, relate to it. It’s just what it is, and every time I look at my own son… he’ll always be my baby, always be my boy, even though now he is bigger than I am.”
“It’s one of the things I love about Mike, is that Mike… he’s never shirking anything,” continued Banks. “And that transfers to Mike [and his son]. If you suffer great loss, it’s never going to be okay. It just will never, ever, ever, be okay. It is part of the grain of who you are, and it’s then embedded in you for the rest of your life.”
Banks also revealed that he purposefully turned off his phone on the morning that the Emmy nominations were announced. Nor did he automatically expect to be nominated again.
“I’ve done this professionally for 48 years, and trust me, the disappointments… there are many. You don’t ever, ever, ever take it for granted,” related Banks. “This is really from my heart: I’m so lucky. I feel so good at this point in my career that it’s almost hard to take in. It’s almost hard to take in. You tell yourself, ‘Make sure you’re grateful,’ which I am, but a level of giddiness or joy… that’s not there. It is humbling. It is humbling to be able to do what you want as an artist for a lifetime. It’s humbling because all around me, I see wildly talented people [and] that’s not been their case. So I feel very lucky.”
Better Call Saul Season 2 will premiere on AMC in 2016. The 2015 Emmy Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, September 20th on Fox.