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Better Call Saul Star Michael McKean Shares The Best Part Of Working On The Show

Michael McKean's Charles "Chuck" McGill may have died in "Better Call Saul" Season 3, long before his brother Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) fully became the Saul Goodman we see in "Breaking Bad," but he's one of the signature characters in the show's run. Even in the 6th and final season, McKean's character's shadow hangs over Jimmy and others, with his name being brought up often. 

Chuck McGill was a tough character to portray. On the one hand, he's a brilliant legal mind. On the other, he's a homebody convinced he suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Through the course of the show, we also watch Chuck go from one of the seemingly few pure souls on the series to an antagonist after it's revealed he's long tried to sabotage his younger brother's legal career, a transformation McKean chalks up to the show's excellent writing. 

"No one knows where life is going to take you, and if a good serial series like this is going to stay interesting, it has to at least approximate that level of unpredictability. And I was fine with that. I didn't need to read the [show] bible. It wasn't my department. I completely trusted Vince [Gilligan] and Peter [Gould] and the rest of the gang," he told Slate in 2017. 

McKean is incredibly vocal about his admiration for "Better Call Saul" and all those involved. In another interview, he described his favorite part of being part of the dramatic world that was spawned from the classic "Breaking Bad."

McKean loved going all out with Odenkirk

Chuck McGill's death was preceded by some intense scenes between Michael McKean and Bob Odenkirk, with the McGill brothers often nearly coming to blows as the layers of their lifelong relationship peel back and uncomfortable truths boil to the surface. McKean said in 2017 after his character's departure that one of the best pleasures of the series was acting in these scenes with Odenkirk, where the writing afforded these brothers to say things they would perhaps never dare to in real life. 

"That is one of the great plusses about doing this for a living. You get to say all the things that people can't quite say to each other. We have these terrific writers writing things for us. In the moment, we can't think of things that are all that eloquent, even the best of us," the actor said in an interview with Forbes

McKean shared scenes with many of the main players of the series, but most of his work was one on one with Odenkirk, with Jimmy taking on the responsibility of taking care of his sick brother until their relationship sours. McKean has nothing but praise for Odenkirk and the dramatic twisted and tragic journey their characters go on together. 

"Bob is perfect. He's that man. He's a terrific actor and a terrific guy and I love him," McKean said of his co-star. 

McKean was proudest of Chicanery

Michael McKean tends to gush about his time on "Better Call Saul," but when asked about the scenes he looks back on most fondly, he revealed they were from Season 3, Episode 5 ("Chicanery"). It's a highly dramatic hour of television as Jimmy is going up against the bar association as he tries to keep his law license following accusations from Chuck that he forged paperwork (which he did). Through some typical Saul Goodman scheming, Jimmy has a cell phone battery placed in Charles' pocket. His brother's so-called aversion to electricity is accepted by the court until it's revealed he doesn't know there is a battery in his pocket, leading to an unhinged rant and Jimmy one-upping his brother, albeit in a way he is not so proud of.

The most tragic part of the scene is it's not Jimmy's trick that convinces the court, but rather what it triggers in Chuck, with McKean giving a tour de force performance as Chuck lays out all his grievances with his brother, aghast that he could ever be a lawyer like him.

Though McKean said in 2017 he hadn't sat down and watched the episode yet, he thought some of his best work came out of it, describing it as a great experience. "But I do have to say that eight-day stretch was a lot of very hard work, but I found it very rewarding," he told Entertainment Weekly