Breaking Bad star Bob Odenkirk was sceptical when he first heard a TV series was going to be based on the dark-comedy movie Fargo.
Odenkirk is a huge fan of Joel and Ethan Coen, who wrote, produced and directed the acclaimed 1996 movie, and he is also a champion of the film.
Fargo starred Frances McDormand, who won a best actress Oscar for her portrayal of a pregnant Minnesota police chief, and it received another Oscar for best original screenplay.
The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and also starred William H Macy as a struggling car salesman who hires two criminals to kidnap his wife.
It’s one of Odenkirk’s favourite flicks and while he was delighted to be asked to read for the role of bungling Deputy Bill Oswalt he still doubted a TV series would do the film justice.
“I was sceptical when I went to read for it and I was hoping it was not going to destroy my memories of a great movie,” Odenkirk told AAP from the set of Fargo in Calgary, Canada.
“I was thinking they could have ruined the movie to me.
“I tried to be fair when I was reading it and I quickly sensed that Noah Hawley, the writer, had made the best possible choices and it’s a very entertaining mixture of crime and evil.”
Fargo is one of several productions Odenkirk has kept himself busy with since his run as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad wound up last year.
Among his recent projects are the horror-comedy Kitchen Sink, his own sketch comedy series The Birthday Boys and soon he will begin the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul.
Odenkirk said he would never have taken the role of Oswalt in Fargo had he not liked the script and the concept of the series.
He said if he’s not busy acting he goes back to his first love, writing, but after being approached about Fargo, he thought he would at least see where the show was heading.
“I like reading for parts so I know I am on the same page as the directors and producers,” Odenkirk said.
Fargo will be fast-tracked on SBS and starts on May 1.
Even though there are no ratings to judge its success and, at the time of this interview in early April, Odenkirk was confident it would be well received.
“Not until I shot a couple of episodes of Fargo did I think, this thing’s working,” he said.
Besides his own thoughts, he said there was a very positive vibe on the set and that seems to have been be mirrored by the network’s executive.
“I know the network is extremely happy with it and it sounds like it’s going well,” Odenkirk said.
“You get a feeling for these things when you are making them, whether they are coming together or falling apart, and this one seems to have a lot of magic around it.”
Odenkirk will step back into Goodman’s shoes next month which will also be his first lead role in a drama series.
The 51-year-old envisages a fairly intense few months on the set of Better Call Saul and very little time to write.
Unlike his time filming Breaking Bad when he managed to pen A Load Of Hooey, a book of comic short stories, which he will release in October.
“I’ve been able to mix it up – act, write, produce and direct – but I am going to have to focus on acting for the entire five months of filming.”
* Fargo launches on Thursday, May 1 at 8.30pm on SBS One.