Born on October 22, 1962, in Naperville, Illinois, Bob Odenkirk got his start in comedy in Chicago, where he worked a variety of comedy and improv clubs. In 1987, Saturday Night Live hired the young comic as a writer. He's since written for, performed in and produced a number of other hit television shows. In 2009, Odenkirk was cast as lawyer Saul Goodman on the critically acclaimed drama Breaking Bad and its 2015 spinoff, Better Call Saul, for which he was nominated for an Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series.
Robert John Odenkirk was born on October 22, 1962, in Naperville, Illinois. The second of seven children, Odenkirk was a bright but frustrated kid, desperate to shake off his suburban roots and live in a city. He also developed a love for writing comedy, beginning at a young age.
"I would get home from school and sit down and write fake songs," Odenkirk later recalled. "And I never perceived it as a career thing, but just something I did. I liked it so much. I would write comedy for an hour or two, riffing of some stupid person on TV or something."
At the age of 16, Odenkirk graduated from high school and enrolled at Southern Illinois University, where he worked at the school's radio station. Just three credits shy of graduation, however, he bolted from college and moved to Chicago to try his hand at stand-up comedy.
In Chicago, Odenkirk eventually hooked up with Second City, the famed improv theater and breeding ground for up-and-coming cast members of Saturday Night Live. It was with the comedy troupe that he wrote the now well-recited sketch "Matt Foley," later made popular by SNL's Chris Farley.
In 1987, good friend and SNL writer Robert Smigel helped land Bob Odenkirk a writing job at SNL. Odenkirk worked closely with Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller and Conan O'Brien, among others, at the show. His writing earned him an Emmy Award and he occasionally appeared in sketches as well, but he was mostly behind the camera, which proved to be a point of frustration: Eager to seek out more on-camera opportunities, Odenkirk left SNL in 1991.
The 1990s were a fruitful time for Odenkirk, as he established himself during the decade as a heavyweight in the world of TV comedy. Ben Stiller cast him on his short-lived FOX series, The Ben Stiller Show, in 1992. Odenkirk also wrote for several other programs, including Get a Life, The Larry Sanders Show and Late Night With Conan O'Brien.
In 1995, Odenkirk teamed up with fellow comic David Cross to create the critically acclaimed Mr. Show with Bob and David for HBO. He later had guest appearances on several hit programs, including Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother and Arrested Development.
Odenkirk achieved more mainstream exposure in 2009 when Vince Gilligan, creator of the award-winning AMC drama Breaking Bad, cast the comedic actor as Saul Goodman, the wise-cracking, semi-sleazy attorney for Bryan Cranston's and Aaron Paul's characters, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, on the series.
Odenkirk cemented his status as an audience favorite on the show with his mouth and hair, the latter of which he described to NPR's Terry Gross as being a "tricky piece of hair engineering that Saul pulls off, but ... it says a lot about his character. Cleaned up on the sides, because he's all business, and the comb-over is to try look younger, and the mullet is to try to look like a relaxed dude, but who's also capable of focusing and being serious."
Shortly before the series finale of Breaking Bad aired in September 2013, AMC announced Better Call Saul, a spinoff series from the program for Odenkirk and the character he made famous, Saul Goodman. In 2015 and 2016, Odenkirk was nominated for an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama for his work on the show. In 2016 he was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series.
Odenkirk lives in Los Angeles, California.
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