Chuck McGill was very different from the character that Michael McKean brought to life in the series.
Now that The Best Call Saul has ended, the show’s creative team is discussing some of the storylines that could have happened. When Breaking Bad ended in 2013, Better Call Saul creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould were already working on the Better Call Saul prequel series, starring Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), aka Saul Goodman. The plan was to find out the back story. Delving into the character’s history also means introducing some of his friends and enemies from over the years.
This brings us to Chuck McGill (Michael McKean), Jimmy’s older brother and the last surviving member of the family. While Jimmy became the infamous “criminal lawyer” on Breaking Bad, Chuck was introduced as a capable legal mind and one of New Mexico’s most respected attorneys. Chuck’s accomplishments in law were so impressive that he encouraged Jimmy to pursue a career in law, which would appear during the series. He was jealous, And he got angry.
But the plan wasn’t always great for Chuck when it came to Jimmy. As Gilligan explained in a recent interview with The New Yorker, the character was portrayed as someone who was actually “very supportive” of Jimmy’s law career. However, seeing different possibilities for actors and stories in these roles, the creative team felt they needed to return with Chuck. Meanwhile, Patrick Fabian’s Howard Hamlin was a character designed as an antagonist but not as a bad guy. This would act with Chuck as the true “villain” of the story, such as when Jimmy finds out that Chuck blocked Howard from hiring Jimmy at HHM.
Meanwhile, Patrick Fabian’s Howard Hamlin was a character designed as an antagonist but not as a bad guy. This would act with Chuck as the true “villain” of the story, such as when Jimmy finds out that Chuck blocked Howard from hiring Jimmy at HHM.
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Although Chuck was not completely supportive of his brother, it can be argued that he was right about Jimmy in many ways. In the end, as Chuck expected, Jimmy injures or kills many people. This does not mean that Chuck is necessarily the story’s hero because what he said and did to Jimmy could be considered cruel. However, like many characters in the Breaking Bad universe, Gilligan feels that Chuck is neither a good guy nor a bad guy, but he is more convincing as a bad guy than Jimmy.
“He’s neither the good guy nor the bad guy in the final estimation, but he’s definitely not in his brother’s corner. When we realized that, the show got so much more interesting. There was an edge to the way Michael McKean was playing Chuck McGill that we found tremendously interesting and fun to watch. It led us to realize that maybe there’s more to this character than just a brilliant attorney who thinks he’s allergic to electricity.”
But Chuck was wrong about one thing. During one of his defining moments, Chuck declares that Jimmy will “never change” and will always be a slick thief known as Slippin’ Jimmy. At the end of the series, we see otherwise when Jimmy shoots for freedom instead of spending the rest of his life behind bars after coming clean and telling the truth, regardless of the consequences. Chuck would probably be proud.