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Breaking Bad's Mark Margolis Was Thrilled With Hector's Lack Of Lines

As one of the greatest villains in a universe full of them, Tío Hector Salamanca made an impressive impact on both "Breaking Bad' and "Better Call Saul" — despite not having a single line of dialogue for the majority of the first series. In "Saul," the prequel television show that proved Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould had plenty of magic left in the tank of their Winnebago meth mobile, Hector had a speaking role in just ten episodes before suffering a debilitating stroke at the hands of the cunning Iganacio "Nacho" Varga (Michael Mando). In the original series, he spoke in just two brief flashback sequences — one in the Season 3 episode "One Minute," and one in the Season 4 episode "Hermanos."

Of course, what made the character so memorable despite his lack of dialogue and restrained physical movement, was actor Mark Margolis. When he joined the cast of "Breaking Bad" in 2009, Margolis already had a dauntingly impressive resume, having appeared in the film "Scarface" alongside Al Pacino and collaborated with visionary director Darren Aronsofsky several times. For another actor of his caliber, the speechless role of Hector Salamanca might have been unattractive — but for Margolis, this was part of the appeal.

"[A] friend's wife told me that he had been called to audition for the role," the actor told Time in 2013. "But in a typical Hollywood mentality, he didn't want to go in because of the fact that there was no lines. He made a mistake." When Margolis landed the part and saw how little he'd have to say in the series, he was "delighted."

Margolis got to relax, while Bob Odenkirk struggled through pages of Saul Goodman dialogue

"[Hector] was a marvelous creature," Margolis exclaimed to Time. "The fact that he didn't have any words was not an issue for me." For the actor, it seems as though not having to memorize lines allowed him to embody a character he immediately recognized as complex and challenging, while still getting to have a stress-free experience on the set relative to his more verbose counterparts. Fellow Season 2 newcomer Bob Odenkirk – who'd barely watched a full "Breaking Bad" episode before taking the role – was so perplexed by the amount of dialogue for Saul Goodman that he didn't bother to commit any of it to memory, as he assumed there would be cuts or rewrites on the day of shooting (spoiler alert: there weren't).

Margolis, meanwhile, got to focus solely on most actors' favorite part of the process: reacting to their scene partner. "I was delighted not to have to learn any lines," he admitted. "I mean, I had to know what was going on ... but the fact that I didn't have to master lines was great. I got to fly out to New Mexico and not worry about memorizing anything." Though it sounds like Margolis had an easier time in "Breaking Bad" than his co-stars, his performance was just as powerful — and continues to be his most recognizable role for fans around the world.

Margolis knows exactly how important he was to the series -- right down to the dollar

"I can't get down a street 50 feet without taking a picture or signing an autograph," Margolis said of the character's impact on his career. Though he seems mostly touched by the viewers' reception of Hector, the subtly incredulous way he discusses his lasting effect on them also betrays a hint of surprise — probably because he was only meant to appear in one episode.

At the time, when Heisenberg's biggest threat was a crazed meth enjoyer named Tuco (Raymond Cruz), Margolis' Hector was just a one-off guest star in the season's second episode "Grilled" (in which he foils Walt and Jesse's desperate scheme to poison his nephew). During this same era of the series, its presence had yet to grow to the ubiquitous cultural relevancy it now enjoys. "After the second season, I didn't know anyone who knew the show," Margolis admitted, "but after the third season — it just blew up. It's everywhere! In the last two seasons, it has become world class. It's become more popular than 'The Sopranos.'"

Even after going on to recur throughout Seasons 3 and 4, and getting to play an instrumental part in one of the series' most grotesquely beloved moments in the Season 4 finale, "Face Off," Margolis still seemed a little stunned by how crazy fans were about his character. "Someone just sent me an email that some auction house is auctioning off all the props from Breaking Bad, including [Hector's] wheelchair and bell," he shared. "The starting bid is $8,500 for my bell! A pair of Walter White's undies is going for $250. My bell is more valuable than Walter White's underwear!"