It’s just a fanboy at heart.
Bob Odenkirk joins Incredibles 2 as the voice of a new mysterious character in the animated sequel. He plays Winston Deavor, a salesman and showman, who wants to bring back superheroes in a positive light. A more mysterious villain has other plans for the family of superheroes.
The original voice cast of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell and Samuel L. Jackson returns for this action adventure. New voice cast members include Huck Milner, Catherine Keener and Sophia Bush. Brad Bird returns to helm the project.
LRM sat down for a one-on-one exclusive interview with Bob Odenkirk. He talked to us about the love of Brad Bird, Pixar films, his character and on why Incredibles is respectful and delightful.
Incredibles 2 is out tomorrow nationwide in theaters.
Read our interview transcript below.
LRM: How were you brought onto this project for Incredibles 2?
Bob Odenkirk: I got a phone call from Brad Bird for a little over a year ago.
LRM: Oh, yeah?
Bob Odenkirk: Yeah. He wanted me to play this guy.
LRM: He had you specifically in mind? Automatically?
Bob Odenkirk: Yes. That’s what he told me.
LRM: How did he pitch it to you?
Bob Odenkirk: He told me he was a tech whiz, a mogul and that he loved superheroes. He wanted them to come out from the shadows and no longer be illegal. He wanted to work with them to do that. The idea for the body camera and, and, and showcasing their exploits to the public in a way that puts them in a good light. That’s all in the movie. The course of the journey was rewriting and making the character a little more genuine and innocent.
I think my character started maybe more duplicitous and kind of hard to read. Then the more you know him now, the way it’s been rewritten, the more you realize he’s utterly genuine and is super huge fan of superheroes.
LRM: What in particular drew you to this film?
Bob Odenkirk: Brad Bird. The name Brad Bird. The person. The artistry of that man.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with Vince Gilligan in TV, Steven Spielberg last year on film and Brad Bird. They are in the upper echelons of their craft and artistry. So working with him was everything to me. I would say yes to that in any circumstance.
LRM: Did you know Brad Bird before or you were just a big fan?
Bob Odenkirk: His work. I don’t think I’d ever said hi to him, but I knew his work.
LRM: So with what films?
Bob Odenkirk: Iron Giant. Incredibles
LRM: When you actually worked with him, how was his style in the booth?
Bob Odenkirk: It reminded me a lot of Spielberg and Alexander Payne, who I’ve worked with. They’re very specific. There’s certainly room to offer something and you feel safe and saying, “Can I try this? Or what about that?” But, when you get down to it, they dial it in…..just so. Just give me that word just with a little anger in it or just say this sentence. Throw it off. Toss it off a little bit more. Let me hear the neediness in this line. They know exactly what they want. Which I love!
Might feel like puppet masters stuff, but it isn’t. As an actor you, you still have to make that effort and get there. You want to get there just so with them. In the case of those three filmmakers and Vince Gilligan in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, they’re all precise in that way. I don’t know if you know of those shows. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould created the shows that i play on AMC.
LRM: Is this fairly difficult for you, as a comedian, you tend to like to improvise?
Bob Odenkirk: No, Brad, let me try stuff. In fact, last night, when I saw him, Brad told me, “I used a lot of your stuff.” I don’t remember what I did or what he did, but he told me, “I used a lot of the things that you suggested or tried.” I think I made him happy.
LRM: How close is this character in the film to you? I mean this character is like a great salesman. The greatest showman.
Bob Odenkirk: I’m very different from this character and the character I play in Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. I’m not like those guys at all.
LRM: How do you sell it if it’s not similar to you?
Bob Odenkirk: I don’t know. Somehow I have this energy that I can tap into that’s kind of exuberant and energetic. I think I got it from my dad. He was that way. My brother Bill is similar. So maybe it’s genetic.
LRM: Do you enjoy doing an animated films or more of live action?
Bob Odenkirk: I like live action better. If you’re going to play on this level, I like working with Brad more than animated or live. Working with great filmmakers is always worth it.
LRM: Was it strange to act alone in the booth?
Bob Odenkirk: Not really. I mean it’s the same job. Acting is pretending and trying to represent something honestly in touch on a moment with some honesty. It’s always artificial. It’s never real. This is kind of more artificial. You do have Brad and Brad does good impersonations of other people. He’s acting with you. You’re not alone and you don’t have a person just repeating lines at you. Brad would do the characters for you. And so you would play the scene.
LRM: So how proud of you to be in a Pixar film?
Bob Odenkirk: It’s an amazing thing to be a part of Pixar and Disney. It’s not something I would have predicted for myself ever. I’m as shocked as anyone could be and proud to be in it.
LRM: Where were you a fan of the Incredibles?
Bob Odenkirk: Well, yes, I was. I loved the first film. I don’t know if there’s a better word. There’s a complexity. There’s a maturity to the humor, the relationships and the characters in Incredibles and Incredibles 2. Also, it’s in Toy Story 3, in particular, and Finding Nemo. People feel like the movie respects them. The audience feels like their intelligence is being respected. I really liked that. That’s something I respond to as an audience member.
LRM: One of the most wonderful things that I’ve read about you in the past few months about Incredibles 2, is that how you kept it all a secret on whether your villain or not a villain? How do you do that?
Bob Odenkirk: I’m still trying to do it. We’re struggling. Believe me. I love how genuine Winston Deavor is in his love of superheroes. That’s kind of the twist in the end is that he’s kind of a fanboy kid in his heart. But, I also love that you can’t tell what it is. I love that you can’t tell who the villain is in this movie for so long. At least, I could and maybe other people can. But, I think it’s pretty hard to navigate in a good way, in a clever way. I love that scene between Evelyn Deavor, my character’s sister, and Elastigirl. The two of them. They talked for two minutes on screen about what they’re after, what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s really going on between them and with all these characters. It’s a really like a scene from a mature film for adults and smart people. I watched the movie with little kids and they loved it. Loved it. Little kids can read if they don’t understand every word. They can read the energy of what’s going on on screen. They were as wrapped in that scene as anyone.
LRM: Terrific. Well thank you very much. I really appreciate you talking to me.
Bob Odenkirk: Thank you.