Bob Odenkirk’s career-defining Better Call Saul character Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill receives a 14-year de-aging treatment in a brand-new VFX video. The prequel/spin-off series to Breaking Bad first premiered in 2015. The story of Better Call Saul is set primarily in the early 2000s in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and follows Jimmy McGill’s journey as an earnest lawyer and former con artist into the egocentric and unconventional criminal defense lawyer Saul Goodman. The series is currently airing its sixth and final season on AMC, with the series finale set to premiere later this month.
Better Call Saul saw multiple Breaking Bad actors reprise their roles. Aside from Odenkirk, who returned as the titular protagonist, the series also saw the return of Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito as Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring, respectively. The latest season of Better Call Saul also guest-starred an iconic duo in the form of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. In recent months, independent visual effects artists have been utilizing the increasingly popular de-aging process on a number of characters from the show.
In a new video by independent VFX studio TheCynicalProduction, Odenkirk’s version of Saul Goodman from Better Call Saul is the latest name to get the de-aging treatment. The video begins with the final de-aging effect applied to various scenes from the show’s latest season. This is then followed by a side-by-side comparison showcasing the before and after outputs, which show a vast difference between the two versions. Check out the video below:
Click here to watch the video on YouTube.
TheCynicalProduction’s most recent de-aging projects have mainly focused on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul characters, with some of their most recent videos showcasing the effect on Esposito’s Fring and Banks’ Ehrmantraut. The effects seem impressive at first glance and ultimately do achieve their main objective of making the actor look more youthful. However, there is an argument that de-aging wouldn’t have worked for the actual show, given that it may lower the authenticity of the actor’s performance. The video is a perfect demonstration of said argument, as it evidently reduces the intensity of Odenkirk’s expressions.
Digital de-aging first came to the fore after artists implemented the technique in David Fincher’s 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. It has been more prominently used in recent years, particularly in Disney’s Marvel and Star Wars properties like Ant-Man, Captain Marvel, The Mandalorian, and the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series, to name a few. However, production companies like AMC operate on limited resources and a much tighter budget, as Better Call Saul writer Thomas Schnauz recently explained. While they chose not to use it for the series, it’s safe to say that the decision to avoid the de-aging path was the right one, as Better Call Saul has continued to grow in popularity and deliver top-quality television throughout its run.
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