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What Better Call Saul Fans Don't Know About Kim Wexler - Exclusive

Saul Goodman's name might be in the title, but Kim Wexler is the real heart of Better Call Saul. Over the past five seasons, Kim has served as both the show's moral center and its biggest mystery. She's the one who tries her best to keep Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) on the straight and narrow, and because Kim didn't appear on Better Call Saul's parent series Breaking Bad, her fate has become a major source of both speculation and anxiety for viewers.

And yet, despite her fan-favorite status, Kim is a hard character to get to know. She keeps her emotions in check. She doesn't talk much about her past (it wasn't until the current season, Saul's fifth, that we really learned about her upbringing). She's judicious with her words, and uses silence as a weapon. As actress Rhea Seehorn tells Looper in an exclusive interview, "She just observes these people until they hang themselves."

If anyone knows Kim Wexler inside and out, it would be Seehorn. She's been playing Kim on Better Call Saul since day one, and much of Kim's popularity can be credited to Seehorn's masterful performance. With Better Call Saul nearing its endgame — its next season will be the show's last — Seehorn took some time to talk to Looper about what makes Kim tick, sharing some of the character's most intimate secrets in the process.

(Spoilers for the current season of Better Call Saul follow.)

The real reason why Kim Wexler married Jimmy McGill

Recent episodes of Better Call Saul have seen a huge shift in Kim Wexler and Jimmy McGill's relationship. After Jimmy violated Kim's trust and made her a target of one of his schemes (as opposed to a somewhat willing accomplice), it seemed like Kim was ready to kick her long-term partner to the curb. Instead? She married him, hoping to protect herself from future legal entanglements.

To viewers, that seemed like a terrible idea, but Seehorn notes there's a very good reason why Kim won't let Jimmy go. "She's such a solitary person," Seehorn says. "He's the only person she's herself in front of, really. So, hanging on to that makes sense to me, and the fact that she has to keep moving the line of what she'll accept."

Forcing Jimmy into a situation where he has to be honest is also a way for Kim to keep ahead of trouble. "I think she thinks that if she can have all the information that she can navigate it, that she'll somehow be able to choose what to be a part of and choose what not to be a part of," says Seehorn. As the actress notes, Kim thinks there's a work-related solution to every problem: "She's... moving the line of what she thinks, sometimes quite egotistically, she can handle."

Kim has been on her own journey over the past few seasons, and over time, we've seen that she's willing to bend the rules in the name of justice. "She is at this horrible crossroads where she is forgetting that law is black and white and not gray. It's not the same as moral and immoral," Seehorn observes. "She thinks she can put her finger on the scale of justice, just a tiny bit, to make the 'right guy' win."

To Kim, that's not so different from what Jimmy does. Casting him out would be condemning herself. "I think that line that keeps moving for her. She knows it's wrong — which is why you see her in the first episode of this season almost throw up in a stairwell — but she somehow thinks the greater good is being served," says Seehorn. "I think that is being transferred on to how she's dealing with Jimmy as well."

Better Call Saul actress Rhea Seehorn is nothing like Kim Wexler

Kim Wexler is cool, collected, and always in control. By her own admission, the actress who plays her isn't. Seehorn admits to Looper, "I'm just a goof and a dork. Everyone can figure out what I'm thinking. I can't hide anything in a conversation. I wish I had the ability to not desperately fill silences, and to not constantly want to make sure everybody in a room is okay."

Even now, over five years later, Seehorn has to take some time to get back into the right mindset: "One of the first things I have to do when I go back each season and I've been away from the character for a bit is to start by just sitting on my hands and thinking about being still."

Still, there are a few things that Seehorn and Kim have in common. "I relate to wanting to believe that if you work hard enough and are smart enough that everything will be okay," the actress says. "I relate very much to hanging onto that almost a bit too much, and to wanting to be self-sufficient."

Seehorn also shares with Looper that she's learned a lot from Kim, too. "Planning on being silent and playing it extremely small and showing very little on my face was a massive risk on television because in many shows, that's a no-no," she notes. In this case, though, it paid off, teaching Seehorn to take risks and trust her natural instincts. The rest of the cast and crew helped her with that as well. "They constantly encouraged me on the show," Seehorn says. "That's been a joy I can't even explain."

Rhea Seehorn knew very little about Kim Wexler when Better Call Saul started

On Better Call Saul, Kim is such a complicated, complete character that you'd think that Seehorn and Saul's co-creators, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, had her arc planned from the very beginning. As it turns out, that's far from the case. Seehorn and Odenkirk shared only one line on the Better Call Saul pilot, and the actress knew "very little" about her character before filming began.

"By the time we shot the pilot, after I got the part, they did inform me that she's a lawyer, that [Kim and Jimmy] have known each other for 10-plus years," Seehorn says. "They came up together through the mailroom. Kim was such a whiz that HHM offered to pay for her to go through law school, and she started to build her career. That was about it."

That's not a lot to work with, so Seehorn had to use some deductive reasoning in order to get inside Kim's head. She explains, "I really wanted Kim to have this stillness, and that arose out of the economy of language they gave her in those first couple of episodes. If you're that particular about what you say and when you speak, maybe you also don't like people to know your thoughts. Maybe you're economic with your gestures and your facial expressions."

Over time, Seehorn says, silence "became this position of power for me, for the character, versus the position of weakness. I could just choose not to speak." It's a choice that's worked out well for everyone. Seehorn's restrained, nuanced performance has earned her plenty of critical acclaim, and it helped Gould and Gilligan decide which direction Kim's story should take. Quite simply, without Rhea Seehorn, Kim Wexler as we know her wouldn't exist.

Rhea Seehorn and Michael McKean worked together before Better Call Saul

Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul have funny moments, but they're not comedies. And yet, before they settled in Albuquerque's dark underbelly, stars like Bryan Cranston, Bob Odenkirk, and Michael McKean were primarily known as comedians. Same goes for Seehorn. Before Better Call Saul, the actress' highest profile parts were on sitcoms like Whitney and I'm With Her.

"It just so happens that my first job in LA was a sitcom. Then I got typecast as a sitcom actress," Seehorn says. "I was grateful to be typecast as anything, because that means people are calling me, but I was sort of perplexed because in theater that wasn't really a thing, where you had to choose one."

On the plus side, that did give Seehorn the opportunity to work with some of her future Better Call Saul co-stars earlier than she would've otherwise. In 2007, Seehorn and Michael McKean — who played Jimmy McGill's judgmental brother, Chuck, on Saul's first three seasons — both appeared ono an American remake of Armando Ianucci's political satire, The Thick of It.

"We had a great time doing it," Seehorn says of the pilot, which was executive produced by Arrested Development's Mitch Hurwitz and directed by McKean's frequent collaborator, Christopher Guest. Unfortunately, the pilot didn't get picked up, and Ianucci went on to create a similar show, Veep, for HBO. (Seehorn appeared on Veep's seventh season, playing a character who went on to be Selina Meyer's Chief of Staff.)

According to Seehorn, that comedy background translates well to a show like Better Call Saul. "People who do comedy, especially... wounded and damaged character point-of-view comedy, tend to have it in them to understand the drama side," she says. "They're the same people who, when they're doing tragedy, understand the humor in our own foibles and the irony in a lot of the darkness of life."

A tragedy about deeply wounded characters, tempered by dark humor and a deep ironic streak? If that's not a perfect description of Better Call Saul, we don't know what is.

Better Call Saul airs on AMC on Mondays at 9 PM.