Things don’t always go according to plan, but sometimes, that’s for the best. Case in point: Jonathan Banks would never have played the iconic role of Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad if things had worked out the way the show’s writers originally intended. In fact, the Mike character did not exist at all in the original plans for season 2 of Breaking Bad. That season also introduces Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman, and while Odenkirk was available for most of the season otherwise, there was one particularly episode he couldn’t take part in due to a previous commitment… and, from there, Mike Ehrmantraut was born.
This story was told by Rhea Seehorn, who worked with Banks on the spinoff series Better Call Saul. During a recent interview on The Rich Eisen Show, Seehorn shared the story behind Mike’s creation on Breaking Bad. She spoke about how the Breaking Bad writers had planned for Saul Goodman to help Jesse (Aaron Paul) clean up the apartment and prepare his story for the police when his girlfriend Jane (Krysten Ritter) dies from an overdose. Because Odenkirk was busy when that episode was scheduled to film, however, the writers improvised by writing in the character of a fixer working on behalf of Saul. Though the character was created on the fly at the last minute, the scene effectively established Mike, allowing the writers to continue to use him as he would become a fan favorite.
“Bob was not available for Saul Goodman to clean up her boy, and so the Mike Ehrmantraut character was created,” Seehorn explains in the interview. “[Bob] was shooting something, and they wrote, when Krysten’s character dies, that he comes and cleans up the body in this very cold, unfeeling manner. And that was going to be where his character started to go, and he was simply not available, so they made up the Mike Ehrmantraut character.”
Reflecting on just how different things would have been if not for that scheduling conflict, Seehorn added, “Thank goodness! Jonathan Banks played it, and now it’s like, you know, invaluable to the show, that character. And also, I’m so glad that that’s not how we saw Saul. That would’ve forever changed how we saw him as well.”
Jonathan Banks Doesn’t Need to Say Goodbye to Mike
While Mike didn’t survive Breaking Bad, Banks was still able to reprise the role for six seasons of the prequel show Better Call Saul. The story was brought to an end last year with Better Call Saul concluded, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Mike is gone. Banks recently said that Mike is still around, having become a part of who the actor is now as a person.
Asked about what he misses most about Mike by THR, Banks said, “Oh, Mike will always be around. Mike will always be around! I love Mike.”