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The Real Reason Saul Has An Awful Comb Over In Better Call Saul

Since his first appearance in Season 2 of "Breaking Bad," Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) became an instant TV icon. The fast-talking, wise-cracking lawyer first revealed his silver-tongued strategic genius when, after he is kidnapped and held at gunpoint over a shallow grave by Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), he not only manages to talk them out of shooting him in the head but winds up becoming their legal representation. So strong was his character that "Breaking Bad" writers started an in-joke that Saul should get his own show. By the time "Breaking Bad" finished its five-season run, writer and showrunner Vince Gilligan decided to turn the joke into a project, and spin-off prequel show "Better Call Saul" was born.

"Better Call Saul" explores the character's origins as "Slippin' Jimmy" McGill and his transformation into Saul Goodman. The lawyer was an often comedic element in the "Breaking Bad" universe of violence, drug addiction, betrayal, murder, and organized crime, so it's perhaps not surprising the spin-off was initially intended as a 30-minute sitcom before it ultimately became the hour-long episodic drama series audiences know. It also might explain why the part feels like a role comedian Odenkirk was born to play. 

In a 2015 interview with NPR's Terry Gross, Odenkirk shared how he created the character of Saul Goodman, including the origins of his unmistakable hairstyle.

Bob Odenkirk came up with Saul's hair style

While speaking on "Fresh Air," Bob Odenkirk said the character of Saul was so well-written he never improvised or changed lines. He revealed that "it's been a fun challenge for me to not add anything, but to rather try to deliver the material exactly the way it's written." However, when explaining how he first discussed the role with Vince Gilligan, it's clear Odenkirk had creative input on molding the character, specifically the hair. "[Gilligan] goes, 'he's a sleazy lawyer, his name's Saul Goodman,'" Odenkirk recalled, continuing, "And I go, 'Well, you know, I'm not Jewish. I said there's a lot of Jewish actors. I'm sure you could find one.' And he goes, 'Oh, no, no. He's not Jewish; he's Irish. He just changed his name to appeal to the homeboys and gain some stature in their eyes.'" The comedian then concluded, telling "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross, "I laughed at that, and I immediately had the idea for the hair, which was my contribution."

So, what was Odenkirk's thinking behind Saul's unique combination of a comb over, growing bald patch, and mullet? After acknowledging that his character successfully pulls off some daring feats of hair engineering, he detailed the thinking behind each element of the haircut. He explained, "[It's c]leaned up on the sides because he's all business, and the comb over is to try to look younger, and the mullet is to try to look like a relaxed dude but who's also capable of focusing and being serious." 

Evidently, the character of Saul spoke so clearly to Odenkirk that the comb over sprang fully formed from his imagination on his first meeting with Gilligan. It tells a lot about the actor's creative vision that he planned every detail based on specific traits and characteristics of the character.