Bob Odenkirk joins the world of Incredibles 2 as the voice of Winston Deavor, who runs a massive tech and communications company with his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener). A diehard fan of superheroes, Winston wants to work with Bob and Helen Parr (Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter) to rehabilitate the image of superheroes with the public and hopefully lead to them becoming legal again. But Winston’s plans could be foiled by the emergence of the Screen Slaver, who uses his own tech against him.
Odenkirk began as a comedy writer/performer, with classic stints on Saturday Night Live and Mr. Show to his credit, as well as guest shots on series like The Larry Sanders Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm. But in recent years he shifted to drama as Jimmy McGill, a.k.a. Saul Goodman, the ethically challenged lawyer first introduced on Breaking Bad and now the star of his show, Better Call Saul, which is heading into its fourth season. The actor also had an acclaimed role last year in Steven Spielberg’s The Post.
In writer/director Brad Bird’s Incredibles 2, Odenkirk portrays Deavor as a slick salesman and buttoned-up entrepreneur, armed with charisma and resourcefulness but whose motivations may not be what they seem. We spoke with Odenkirk about playing Deavor, how the character fits into the movie’s overall theme and more — including what to expect from the upcoming season of Better Call Saul.
Den of Geek: How was the character presented to you?
Bob Odenkirk: Media mogul, loves superheroes, wants to get them to come out from underground, wants them legal again, wants to use technology to help share their stories and get the public back on their side. So all that stuff was there, I mean that’s essentially who he is. What changed over time was that the motivations of the character seemed to change, and the energy of Winston changed. He was hard to read at first, and this is not a journey that most characters make and it’s kind of a surprise.
But when you meet him, you’re not sure what his motivations are and then I think, to me I think his motivations are surprising at the end. He’s not what you expect. I love that. That’s the journey that Brad made in the course of working on the movie and rewriting it and thinking about it, I think.
What did you think you could enhance or add or bring out through just your voice?
I love the character that gets carried away with their inspiration and their plan, and they can be a little blind because of it, blind to the challenges or the mistakes they might make. So I love that energy and I love playing it. Characters who are inspired and in pursuing their inspiration, they’ve got some blinders on.
Let’s talk about the Screen Slaver.
Phones and iPads and computer screens are his tool and I think that’s a really cool thing. That’s about society right now and how literally, kids obviously but parents and families too, they infringe on our consciousness and I think that’s the most current issue of the movie. And I think it’s a great one and I think it’s handled really well too.
The other thing about Winston is, here’s a guy who’s a super fan of superheroes and he has the money and resources to help them get their message out to the world. I actually thought of him almost as a metaphor for people in Hollywood who grew up reading comics and now they’re in positions where they can make movies out of it.
I was saying that I was hoping Winston could become a commissioner of superheroes, like the NFL has a commissioner, and stuff like that. He’d be the liaison between the public and the superheroes. But I haven’t had the chance to tell Brad Bird yet, but that is the plot of Incredibles 3.
As a writer yourself, what is it like watching the Pixar story development process?
Live-action will never be able to compete with the ability to make an animated movie on some level. You can watch the whole thing then rethink it and rewrite it, then make it again, then watch it again, then rethink it. They literally make the movie five times. The whole movie. You know it’s not finished but you’ve got a drawing and you’ve got the actor doing the scene and you’ve got maybe music. I mean, they really make the movie multiple times and if you’ve ever seen a movie that you liked and thought, oh boy it just needed a better this or it needed a better that, Pixar does that and they go back and make it better and make it better. And then they show you a finished product.
That’s why a movie like Incredibles 2 is a superhero movie alongside a family movie alongside a comedy and they all work together — it’s because they take full advantage of the opportunity to work that hard and completely and thoroughly on a story.
If you could be in a live-action superhero franchise, which would it be?
I like Deadpool a lot. I think I could have some fun in that. I like Batman too. I’ll play Batman. I’ll play that version of Batman who’s old and really struggling to carry on.
Where are things at with Season 4 of Better Call Saul?
We just finished a week ago yesterday. I was in Albuquerque a week ago yesterday and finished.
What’s the tone of this season?
It’s going to be fucking great. I mean, man, the writers know what they’re doing. They know what we can do now, its comedy right next to drama next to violence. Boom, boom, boom one after another and there’s a maturity to the characters that you’ve never seen. I feel like I’m almost never seen it in a movie or a TV show. The characters are growing, not just changing, but expanding in their consciousness. It’s fucking unbelievable.
How far down the field does it bring you towards where we first met you on Breaking Bad?
The three yard line. This could be a brutal couple of yards but we’re on the three yard line.
Between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul and this and some other things, you’ve had quite a busy few years recently.
It’s been an amazing thing. I have to focus on the work of it always. It helps to do that and not try to think about some bigger journey of yourself through show business. But you have to recognize it and be appreciative for it. I’m trying to write this memoir that I think maybe covers that a little bit. It’s called Comedy, Comedy, Comedy, Drama. And it’s true that most of my life has been very wrapped up in comedy, I love comedy and I kind of dedicated myself to it. Then drama came along and now it’s my whole world in a lot of ways.
I don’t have it all figured out. That’s a big question to me. How does this feel? What is it? Who am I now? But you can always ground yourself by just looking at the job you have to do next and trying to do it well, you know.
Incredibles 2 is out in theaters today (Friday, June 15).