PASADENA, Calif.—Bob Odenkirk is still processing his feelings after suffering a massive heart attack in July 2021 and says a big takeaway is to strive for a better work-life balance.
“I don’t think I’ve figured it out yet,” the actor said Tuesday while attending a biannual gathering of TV critics. “I have to do a better job because we don’t get to carry on forever. We just don’t … I want to make the right choices so I can feel like I’m doing the best I can with the time I have left, the things that I love in this world. And I don’t think I’ve figured it out yet, but I’m working on it.”
Odenkirk’s heart attack happened while filming the final season of AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” and his heart stopped for 18 minutes. He returned to work five weeks later and says he didn’t remember what happened, but felt euphoria and also exhaustion.
“I was weirdly upbeat after that heart attack for a long time. It was a gift, I suppose, but also strange to everyone around me… They were very careful about not giving me too much work to do, but it was hard. It was really hard. After about eight hours of shooting, I got tired,” he said. “It was like being this weird, little baby bird at the age of 59.”
After production ended on “Saul,” Odenkirk took a long-awaited family vacation and then went right into his new project, the comedy series “Lucky Hank,” based on the novel “Straight Man” by Richard Russo.
Odenkirk plays Hank Devereaux, a college English professor who is also the chair of the department at an under-funded Pennsylvania college he describes as “mediocracy’s capital.”
The audience meets Hank at an unmotivated and uninspired point of his mid-life. The show co-stars Mireille Enos (“The Killing”) who is also questioning her own career and purpose in life.
Odenkirk jokes that with choosing his next project at AMC, he “could’ve been a zombie,” referencing the channel’s successful “The Walking Dead” franchise, but was drawn to the solid relationships portrayed in “Lucky Hank” and the humor.
“Saul was really alone. He had nothing … It was a tough guy to play, he was so alone. I like that this guy loves his wife, she loves him … I like the humor of him, he’s funny and he knows he’s being funny. He’s making jokes all the time.”
“Lucky Hank” debuts March 19 on AMC and AMC+.
By Alicia Rancilio