Walter White and Jesse Pinkman won't be making any appearances on the first season of "Better Call Saul," the prequel to "Breaking Bad" that will begin airing on AMC next month.
But that doesn't mean those two lead characters, played by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, won't make it sometime in the future, said Peter Gould, an executive producer, on Saturday. "Better Call Saul" is set six years prior to the time of the award-winning "Breaking Bad."
Gould said he and his partner, Vince Gilligan, want to let "Better Call Saul" stand on its own. If Cranston and Paul, or any touchstones of "Breaking Bad" appear in the new series, it better feel natural to the story, Gilligan said.
"If it feels like a stunt, then those of us in the writer's room will have done something wrong," Gilligan said.
The series debuts Feb. 8, with its second episode being televised the next day. Given the commercial and critical success of its predecessor, it's among the most anticipated new programs of the year. Bob Odenkirk, a supporting player in "Breaking Bad," steps up as the lead character, Saul Goodman, in the show focusing on his law practice.
"Every time I come into the office in this show, (I ask) has Walter White called yet?" Odenkirk joked. "Jesse would be in middle school."
Gilligan said he recognizes the risk of returning to the same world for the new series, and it wasn't until the first season was written and the film was being edited that he felt confident it was the right thing to do. He said "I'd be lying" if he said he wasn't anxious about how "Better Call Saul" will be received.
"I don't know if the world is going to like this thing," he said, "but I really do. I'm really proud of it."
Besides Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks returns from "Breaking Bad" to play fixer Mike Erhmantraut. Veteran actor Michael McKean will play Goodman's brother, with Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian and Michael Mando as other new cast members.
The producers said they talked a lot about how to make the show look and feel different. For example, "Breaking Bad" primarily used hand-held cameras while the camera work is more fixed on "Better Call Saul." By the nature of the story — Walter White dying of cancer — "Breaking Bad" was set in a shorter period of time than the new series. "Breaking Bad" was filmed in New Mexico.
They also like playing with television conventions like the use of color and black-and-white, and they said AMC gives them great freedom to try different things.
"We're somewhat contrarian and we like showing people stuff that they haven't seen before," Gilligan said.