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Early Roles That Better Call Saul Actors Would Like You To Forget About

Throughout six seasons of "Better Call Saul," many characters have come and gone in the world of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The prequel series to AMC's iconic hit show "Breaking Bad" not only features returning cast members from the previous show, but also an entire gauntlet of new characters for fans to fall in love with. What both shows have in common, especially "Better Call Saul," is having one of the most remarkable casts in TV history. Not one player in the games of Walter White and Saul Goodman feels out of place. 

Each actor has their own history in Hollywood. Some actors come from distinguished roles on the stage or screen, while others struggled for recognition prior to joining the cast of "Better Call Saul." Like any up-and-coming actors, they booked minor roles on television procedurals and short films, with the rare occasion of having their name associated with a blockbuster or TV hit. 

Nevertheless, not all roles are a sense of pride for certain actors in hindsight. Whether it's due to behind-the-scenes turmoil, a lackluster final product, or other extraneous circumstances, these "Better Call Saul" actors are probably glad that these specific roles weren't career-defining. 

Bob Odenkirk's Mr. Show spin-off

Bob Odenkirk got his start in sketch comedy, performing at the Second City Theater in Chicago with future stars like Chris Farley and Tim Meadows. He eventually became a writer for "Saturday Night Live," penning some of the best sketches of the early 1990s. Following "SNL," Bob worked on "The Ben Stiller Show," where he met fellow writer and comedian David Cross. The two joined forces to create and star in "Mr. Show," a sketch comedy show on HBO that ran from 1995 to 1998. 

"Mr. Show" developed a cult fanbase over the years, inspiring future generations of comedians. It wasn't until 2001 that Bob and David reunited for a movie based on one of David Cross' characters from the show. The film, "Run Ronnie Run!" starred Cross as Ronnie Dobbs, a redneck petty criminal who teams up with an infomercial producer, played by Odenkirk, to turn his lowbrow popularity into a TV sensation. The film features many "Mr. Show" alumni in supporting roles, including Jill Talley, Tom Kenny, and Paul F. Tompkins. 

However, the movie ended up leaving a bad taste in the mouth of its creators. Odenkirk was critical of the film studio's promotion of the film, and claimed that he and David Cross were not involved in the film's final edit. Thankfully, "Mr. Show" fans have had a proper reunion in the form of "W/ Bob & David," a Netflix reboot released in 2015. 

Rhea Seehorn's sitcom days

Rhea Seehorn has received mountains of critical acclaim for her role as Kim Wexler on "Better Call Saul." As the partner-in-crime to Bob Odenkirk's Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman, Kim's journey turns her from an ethical exemplar to masterful swindler. Prior to being casted on the "Breaking Bad" prequel, Rhea previously had a main role on the NBC sitcom "Whitney." 

"Whitney" was created by and starred the stand-up comedian Whitney Cummings and her attempt to reignite the spark in her relationship with her boyfriend, played by fellow comedian Chris D'Elia. Rhea plays Roxanne, Whitney's best friend, and her biggest confidante in the series. Rhea's role only grew bigger when poor critical reception led NBC to refocus the show to become more of an ensemble, like "Friends." The show was cancelled in 2013 after two seasons. 

While some critics felt the show had potential, many thought it was uninspired and marred by weak acting from its lead (via The Huffington Post). The show also hasn't aged well due to allegations by several women against D'Elia for sexual harassment and grooming of minors. It's safe to say that getting cast in a show like "Better Call Saul" soon after the cancellation of "Whitney" was likely a gift for Rhea Seehorn's career. 

Jonathan Banks' health class

Jonathan Banks had a long career before first appearing on "Breaking Bad." The actor made appearances in films like "Airplane!" and "Beverly Hills Cop," eventually gaining recognition with a starring role in the CBS crime drama "Wiseguy," which ran from 1987 to 1990. Oftentimes, Banks was cast as cops or detectives, with "Breaking Bad" being no exception. Banks entered the series in the second season as Mike Ehrmantraut, an ex-cop-turned-cleaner for Gus Fring, who is often summoned by Saul Goodman for various under-the-table tasks. 

However, not every role Banks took was within the world of crime dramas. Among his first acting gigs in 1974 was a public service announcement called "Linda's Film on Menstruation." In the film, the 27-year-old Banks played a naïve man learning about menstruation while bowling. During an appearance on "Conan," the talk show host aired a clip from the PSA, much to Banks' embarrassment. Banks later explained that he did the film as a favor for a friend, never expecting it would end up circulating on the Internet. 

Thankfully, Banks has nothing to be embarrassed about for his work on "Better Call Saul." Across six seasons, Mike has become a much deeper and more layered character than he was on "Breaking Bad," netting Banks five nominations for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama, though he was snubbed for every one of them. 

Michael McKean's time on Saturday Night Live

Michael McKean has had an illustrious career in comedy, starting with his main cast role on the ABC sitcom "Laverne & Shirley," a spin-off of "Happy Days." McKean later appeared in "This Is Spinal Tap," a mockumentary directed by Rob Reiner in 1984, as David St. Hubbins, the lead singer and guitarist of the fictional English hair metal band. Alongside Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer, this role rocketed McKean to comedy royalty. 

It came as quite a shock in 1994 when Michael McKean joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live." Despite having hosted and been the musical guest as part of Spinal Tap in 1984, McKean became the oldest person to ever join the cast until Leslie Jones in 2014. However, in '94, McKean was joining a stacked cast, including Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, and Mike Myers. Although McKean shined with impressions, he struggled to find a place on the show's cast (via Vulture). 

McKean would later be part of a massive cast exodus between 1994 and 1995, where over 15 cast members moved on from the show, resulting in almost an entirely new cast for Season 21. Speaking about his time on the show, McKean claimed to not know where he fit on the show. Fortunately, McKean fit perfectly as Chuck McGill on "Better Call Saul," which is ironically his second main cast role in a TV series spin-off. 

Patrick Fabian's heel turn on Disney Channel

Few characters in Vince Gilligan's cinematic universe have had as tragic a fate as Howard Hamlin, played brilliantly by Patrick Fabian. The character initially appeared in the first season of "Better Call Saul" as a rival and antagonist to Bob Odenkirk's upstart Jimmy McGill. As the show continues, Howard becomes a much more empathetic character, especially when Jimmy's conflict with Chuck rises in tension. By the time he (spoiler alert!) meets his tragic fate at the hands of Lalo Salamanca, Howard is a victim of Jimmy and Kim's nefarious schemes. 

However, some of Patrick Fabian's earlier roles were less morally gray than the characters in the world of "Better Call Saul." In 2005, Fabian co-starred in the Disney Channel original movie "Twitches" starring Tia and Tamera Mowry as a pair of identical twin sisters separated at birth who later discover they're the descendants of a long line of witches. Fabian plays Thantos, their evil uncle who summons an evil entity known as "the Darkness" that threatens the safety of magicians across the world. 

Fabian even makes an appearance in the film's sequel, "Twitches Too," which was released in 2007. Both films are available to watch on Disney+, but viewers shouldn't expect Fabian to give as nuanced a performance as he does in Season 6 of "Better Call Saul." 

Michael Mando's dancing skills

For as short an acting career as Michael Mando has had, the actor has accrued quite an impressive resume. His breakthrough appearance was Vaas Montenegro, the antagonist in the 2012 video game "Far Cry 3." This role is quite similar in personality to that of Tuco Salamanca in "Breaking Bad," who Mando was later cast as the sidekick of in the first season of "Better Call Saul." He first appears in the series' second episode as Nacho Varga, Tuco's level-headed confidante who later becomes a criminal mastermind. 

Shortly after the release of "Far Cry 3," however, Mando was playing a much different role. In the 2013 film "Make Your Move," Michael Mando plays Raphael in this dance-centric love story based on "Romeo & Juliet." The role is certainly not Shakespearean, as indicated by the film's poor reviews, which have called it one-note, underwritten, and formulaic, despite praise for the choreography. 

While the role does contain traces of the character that would eventually be Nacho Varga, being a quiet, perceptive criminal, Mando's role in "Better Call Saul" is quite a step up. Especially by the sixth season, Michael Mando got to flex some career-defining acting, although it may be a missed opportunity to never have seen Nacho bust out some dance moves. 

Giancarlo Esposito's godly role

Before his career-reviving role on "Breaking Bad," Giancarlo Esposito was well-known in certain circles of the film industry. He was mostly known for his work in films directed by Spike Lee, such as "Do The Right Thing!" and "Malcolm X," as well as TV shows like "Homicide: Life on the Street." Since his breakout role as Gus Fring on "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul," Giancarlo has been typecast as villains throughout Hollywood, from "The Mandalorian," to, coincidentally, "Far Cry 6," the same video game franchise Michael Mando cut his teeth in. 

Gus Fring was hardly Esposito's first antagonist role, however. He had a similar role in the 2001 film "Monkeybone," directed by Henry Selick and starring Brendan Fraser. The film follows Fraser as Stu, a cartoonist who ends up in an alternate land known as "Down Town," where he is invited to a party by Hypnos, the god of sleep. Esposito plays Hypnos, the malicious antagonist who tries to control Stu's cartoon, Monkeybone, during their adventures in Down Town. 

Unfortunately, "Monkeybone" was a box office bomb, garnering a critical response that labeled it "overblown" and "a bit of a mess" (via The New York Times). The film pales in comparison to many others in its medium-bending genre, such as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Space Jam." However, maybe it's best that viewers don't remember Esposito's wacky role in this confusing film. 

Tony Dalton's first film

American audiences may not have heard of Tony Dalton before he joined the cast of "Better Call Saul" in its fourth season. The actor was mostly known for his work in Mexican television and films, particularly the telenovelas "Flor Salvaje" and "Dueños del Paraíso." His first film, however, was quite a bold move, as Dalton wrote the screenplay himself alongside Alejandro Lozano and Kristoff Raczyñski. The film, called "Matando Cabos," released in 2004, stars Dalton and follows a mistaken kidnapping that goes south. 

While this would only be a prelude to Dalton's work in the crime genre, the film received lukewarm reviews upon release. It has, however, developed a cult following and is considered by some to be one of the best Mexican films of the 21st century. Still, for Dalton, the film seemed to have served its purpose to get him into the entertainment industry. 

The film eventually gained a sequel, "Matando Cabos 2: La Máscara del Máscara," in 2021, though Dalton was not involved in its production, nor does he star in it. Perhaps he looks back on the original film fondly, but Dalton definitely prefers his career post-Lalo Salamanca.

Mark Margolis' historical odyssey

Mark Margolis was a stand-out actor in "Breaking Bad," playing the wheelchair-bound Salamanca patriarch, Hector. His role was expanded in the prequel series, as audiences got to meet Hector prior to the stroke that disables him and see how he ended up in that disadvantageous situation. Audiences may be familiar with Margolis' work outside the "Breaking Bad" universe, such as his appearances in "Scarface" or Darren Aronofsky films such as "Requiem for a Dream." 

Margolis has worked with other notable directors throughout his career, though with less critically acclaimed results. One such example is "1492: Conquest of Paradise," a drama film directed by blockbuster king Ridley Scott. The film follows Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas and the subsequent fallout between the conquerors and the indigenous natives. It stars Gérard Depardieu as the famous explorer, with Sigourney Weaver as Queen Isabella I. Margolis plays Francisco de Bobadilla, a knight of the Spanish military who arrests Columbus under orders of the Spanish crown. 

The film received negative responses, though some praised Depardieu's lead performance. However, it wasn't as panned as "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery," another film about Columbus that was released the same year and became a box office bomb. While Ridley Scott was defensive of the film in recent years, it's likely not a career highlight for Mark Margolis compared to his nominated work as Hector Salamanca. 

Kerry Condon's problematic TV drama

Kerry Condon plays an integral supporting role in "Better Call Saul" as Stacey, the daughter-in-law of Mike Ehrmantraut and mother to his granddaughter, Kaylee. Elsewhere, the Irish actress has received recognition for her voice work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Tony Stark's AI, F.R.I.D.A.Y, as well as series such as "Rome" and "Ray Donovan." 

One show she was cast in was the Dustin Hoffman-led "Luck," which aired on HBO in 2011. The series was created by "Deadwood" creator David Milch and follows a gambling ring that forms at a horse racing track. However, the series was short-lived, as controversy began to arise surrounding the production's treatment of its trained horse actors (via The New York Observer). The nonprofit group PETA campaigned against the series for euthanizing two horses during the production of the first season, leading HBO to investigate horse injuries on the set. 

Eventually, HBO canceled the show over safety concerns, cutting production short in the middle of the second season. It's unfortunate, considering the first season enjoyed positive reviews for its acting and writing. It's safe to say that Kerry Condon likely doesn't miss working on a show with such appalling animal rights abuses. 

Ed Begley Jr.'s strange film foray

Ed Begley Jr. has a long history in television, starting with his Emmy-nominated role on the medical drama "St. Elsewhere" from 1982 to 1988. His stacked resume also includes "7th Heaven," "Six Feet Under," and "Arrested Development." On "Better Call Saul," he plays Clifford Main, Jimmy's boss during the second season who has an integral role in the takedown of Howard Hamlin in the show's sixth and final season. However, few may remember Ed Begley Jr.'s short career as a leading man in film.

After appearances in "This is Spinal Tap" and "The Accidental Tourist," Ed Begley Jr. starred in the 1990 comedy "Meet the Applegates." In the film, he plays Richard (aka "Dick"), the patriarch of a seemingly normal American nuclear family. In reality, they're insect-like aliens shapeshifting into humans in order to assimilate into society with the plan of eradicating the human race. 

Despite the unique premise, "Meet the Applegates" received a harsh critical response. The New York Times criticized it for having the depth of a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, while other reviews called it uninspired. Coming from the director behind the 1980s Winona Ryder-led classic "Heathers," "Meet the Applegates" was quite a disappointment for audiences. 

Carol Burnett's rare misstep

To call Carol Burnett TV royalty wouldn't be accurate, for the sole purpose of her having more talent than any historical monarch ever had. Her variety sketch show ran from 1967 to 1978, and she later transitioned to film, most notably playing Miss Hannigan in the 1982 adaptation of "Annie." Over the past 20 years, she's guest starred on shows like "Law & Order: SVU," "Glee," and "Angie Tribeca." This all culminates in her smashing guest-starring role during the second half of "Better Call Saul"s final season as Marion, the sweet old lady who takes Saul Goodman down

Carol Burnett's film career, aside from "Annie," is surprisingly less expansive than her TV appearances. She's appeared in films by acclaimed directors like Billy Wilder and Peter Bogdanovich. She's also appeared in several films written and directed by Robert Altman, a pioneering filmmaker in the '70s and '80s. Among some of his most popular films are "M*A*S*H" and "California Split." He recruited Carol Burnett for several ensemble films, one of which was "H.E.A.L.T.H." 

Whilst Burnett got to flex her comedy chops on the big screen alongside Lauren Bacall and James Garner, the film was criticized by reviewers for being messy, having a thin premise, and wasting its talent. It's likely that Carol Burnett doesn't regret working with a legend like Robert Altman, but perhaps she has more love for their previous outing, "A Wedding."