Patrick Fabian spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Howard Hamlin’s relationship with Jimmy & Kim going into Better Call Saul Season 6, Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould’s masterful attention to detail, and HHM denying Kristy Esposito’s memorial scholarship.
This Patrick Fabian interview contains minor spoilers for Better Call Saul Season 6.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): Do you feel the board at HHM turning down Kristy Esposito’s scholarship is the true turning point in Howard & Jimmy’s relationship?
I’ve seen Bob Odenkirk commenting, “Jimmy cries because he died in that moment. Anything that was left of him hoping… Died”
PATRICK FABIAN: You know, Howard Hamlin comes from a place where rules have been established in the way things get done. I didn’t like breaking the news to Jimmy that Kristy was never going to get the scholarship. But I didn’t feel it was a final end to their relationship.
I thought it was more of a grown up thing of like ‘Look, this is the way the world works and you should know that.’ And the fact that he doesn’t accept that really is the delineating line between what world you wanna live in.
I think that’s when Jimmy decides he’s gonna live in a different world where Kristy Esposito is the kind of person who’s given a chance.
Howard… As much as I love Howard Hamlin, it’s definitely a shortcoming that he only sees the world one way. Oh, we can’t do that, because that’s just the way the world is. And to have that sort of close mindedness about it is also a factor in how Howard moves through the world.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I feel Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould built up Howard Hamlin similar to Breaking Bad’s Hank Schrader in a way. Where he’s presented as kind of a semi-villain in the hero’s life to start off the series.
Then as time goes on you realize Howard is not a bad guy. He liked Jimmy, offered him a job at HHM multiple times. Even after a bowling ball was thrown on his car, Howard still kept on with recruiting “Charlie Hustle”. Do you also see Howard Hamlin as ‘Breaking Good’ like Hank as the seasons pass?
PATRICK FABIAN: Absolutely see that! I am set up as the villain in the beginning. But in the end, Howard is doing what he thinks is best for both Jimmy and Kim. The thing with Chuck and cutting Jimmy out of Sandpiper are horrible moments that happened.
But I think that was more driven by Chuck than it was by Howard. By the time of Chuck’s demise, I think there’s a certain sympathy that Howard get as a character. A benefit from the audience.
Honestly, at that point, Howard’s also doing his best, his damnedest to try & help Jimmy. But Jimmy and Kim don’t want it. And at some point, you gotta give up.
You’re gonna be like, ‘Right, I’m gonna wash my hands of you. You’re left to your own devices. Good luck to you. I tried to help you. And I tried to show you a path and I tried to model behavior, but you’re not taken to it.’
You can’t force it.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: One of the things I love about the Breaking Bad universe is the meticulous attention to detail. In the Better Call Saul season 6 premiere, Jimmy’s right there in front of Howard with a towel on his head in the locker room.
In that moment, if Howard just realizes that’s Jimmy and calls him out, everything changes. Just in life, people tend to miss the details right in front of them. How do you feel about those cinematic details that encompass Better Call Saul?
PATRICK FABIAN: Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan are masters in making sure that the audience sees the little things. The fact that it was a missed opportunity to expose Jimmy makes it even better. When you think about it, the actual mechanics of doing something like that, it’s like trying to say ‘Don’t think about elephants!’ right?
So ‘don’t look at the naked guy when you come in to get the towels’. If you didn’t tell me that I wouldn’t be drawn to Bob (Odenkirk) sitting there like that. So it was funny too!
There was a couple of times Michael Morris directed that and he was like, “I can’t tell you why, but I didn’t believe that he didn’t see him.” And he was right. I felt that. I felt my head sort of move a little bit.
But it’s really all sliding doors and missed opportunities, right? What if I do see it and I see it’s Jimmy, what happens? We’ll never know!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Jimmy makes a little quip to Kim Wexler in “Wine and Roses” about how a lawyer has to know how to play golf. Do you personally believe that?
PATRICK FABIAN: You know what, the world still works in a way where a lot of deals get done on the golf course. Even in this late day! I think that’s gonna last for another 20 or 30 years, without a doubt.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: There’s a moment in “Something Unforgivable” where Howard realizes that Chuck was right all along and saw Jimmy for what he is. Howard tells Kim to stop following Jimmy’s lead but is rebuffed. How do you reflect on that scene?
PATRICK FABIAN: You know, it’s funny how when you give up on somebody… And I don’t know if it’s even really giving up… I think it’s when you let go of your delusion, that you have influence on what other people do.
I think we all suffer from that in some, some degree, but these characters keep striving to try and “change them”. But the fact of the matter is people are gonna do what they’re gonna do.
So it really isn’t a giving up as much as it’s a letting go. And once you’ve let go, I think there’s a relief. And once you feel that relief, you wanna share that relief with other people.
So I wanna share my relief of letting Jimmy go with Kim and hope that she can let go too. But you know, we’ll wait and see how that all turns out.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you feel sometimes people develop a pavlovian response to others? Where even if a person tries to make amends, it’s too late. Even though Jimmy knows it was Chuck not Howard that stopped his career advancement… It seems he’s been conditioned subconsciously to despise Howard regardless.
PATRICK FABIAN: Yeah, once I let go of our bond and walk away from Jimmy at the courthouse… He only continues to become more unhinged. He’s got a thing about me, the bowling balls, the hookers at lunch, all that stuff.
I don’t know if you really put that on a ledger, if you could justify that. But that’s me speaking in my character speaking, I’m sure he has a different opinion about it.
But I don’t think Howard has the same pavlovian reaction for Jimmy. I think Howard’s grown and changed it in the way he behaves with Jimmy. I think Jimmy is hardened and solidified to something that doesn’t necessarily have to do with Howard at all. But that’s for, you know, Jimmy’s psychologist, not for me! (laughs)
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: How did you first react on set when Howard got that license plate with NAMAST3 (Namaste)?
PATRICK FABIAN: Attention to detail! The writers give you gifts all along. Sometimes they’re written in the words you say, and sometimes it’s in the things they get you to do.
So I believe Howard has had spiritual growth. I believe Howard has gone to therapy. He’s the kind of guy that would embrace that sort of thing. He’s really trying, but of course he’s still Howard Hamlin.
His idea of ‘I found spiritual enlightenment’ is to get a personalized license plate about his spiritual enlightenment. Right? So, you know, draw your own conclusions from that!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I recall how big of a music fan you are from our interview on DriverX. Did you enjoy Lalo Salamanca telling his worker he looked like ZZ Top in the Better Call Saul Season 6 premiere?
PATRICK FABIAN: Because of COVID and the way we had to shoot this year, more than any other year, I really only saw Howard’s storyline. We weren’t to visit one another on set, which is what we used to do all the time.
So I had forgotten that line until the premiere the other night here in Los Angeles. I roared with laughter! No one but Tony Dalton (Lalo Salamanca) can deliver a line like that.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What were the COVID-19 regulations like? Did you have to wear a mask in-between every scene?
PATRICK FABIAN: Oh yeah! I mean, especially when we first went back as well. There was SAG after the union and the PGA, the Producers Guild, they all came to an agreement of how to work safely. We all wanted to go to work and we all wanted to not have to shut down.
So there would be zones, basically people who could move freely through those zones and other people who like never, ever got to go to set because of safety. The office was the office.
The idea of being able to stroll through hair & makeup or stroll over to craft services or stroll into the office and say ‘Hi’, which is something that the family would do.
That was restricted for safety reasons, safety protocol, above all, but for the practical applications for actors. We would rehearse with masks on, all the crew would have masks. That crew worked so with masks on for 12, 16 hours a day. That’s rough.
We’d go rehearse and we’d take our masks off and they would say, ‘Action!’ we’d shoot the scene. Then we put our mask back on to get notes. So it was tedious and laborious.
Yet everybody, sucked it up and did it pretty much without complainant because there was no alternative. So I think it’s a miracle and wonderful that we were able to finish this final season.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I wanted to conclude the interview with something amusing. There was a poll on a popular Facebook Breaking Bad group about the ‘sexiest’ Better Call Saul character.
They gave three choices, Nacho Varga, Mike Ehrmantraut, and Lalo Salamanca. The first reply was literally “How can you choose any of those three over Hamlin?” How do you respond?
PATRICK FABIAN: (laughs) I’m not offended because all three of those gentlemen are absolutely more sexy!
But if you want somebody reliable to make sure your checkbook is balanced and you get to the job on time, you call Howard. (laughs)
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Thanks Patrick!
PATRICK FABIAN:Thank you!
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