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‘Better Call Saul’: Rhea Seehorn on Emmys, Kim’s ‘ultimatum’

Fans have been saying for years that television academy had better call Rhea Seehorn with an Emmy nomination for her complex and devastating performance as Kim Wexler on AMC’s Better Call Saul. This year they finally got their number right.

Seehorn received a Supporting Actress in a Drama nomination Tuesday, along with fellow nominees Patricia Arquette (Severance), Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria), Sarah Snook (Succession), Julia Garner (Ozark) and Jung Ho-yeon (“Squid Game”) and Christina Ricci (“Yellowjackets”).

The nomination comes as “Better Call Saul” returned on Monday night after a seven-week hiatus to begin the final leg of its sixth and final season — and let’s just say the look of fear and disbelief on Kim Wexler’s face in those final minutes was something to revel in see.

The Times spoke to Seehorn about the morning excitement on its Tuesday. She was also nominated for Actress in a Short-Form Comedy, Drama or Variety Series for AMC’s Cooper’s Bar.

Can you give me a recap of your morning so far?

I’m in London so I’m at happy hour right now. I have to enjoy the morning where I am. But I walked through Borough Market with my beautiful fiancé Graham and Better Call Saul costume designer Jennifer Bryan because she’s doing a show here in London. We hung out together and went to the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel because we heard it was beautiful and my fiancé looked over at me and said, “Babe, you just got it.” And then the rest brought us the bar champagne.

Love this. You must know the Rhea fan club on social media — people have been demanding you be recognized by the Emmys for years. Can you say something about the audience’s reaction to your performance? How did it feel to see them stand up for you?

It’s incredible. It is difficult to understand; it is hard to explain. You could be a great actor who doesn’t have great material to do, you could be an actor who does the best work of his life and nobody watches it, you could do great work that critics love but fans don’t; or great work that fans love but critics don’t – and getting all those things as gifts in some way hasn’t escaped my notice. The acceptance of the fans for me, the critical acceptance of me and what the writers and directors have given me in terms of the character’s growth and being able to challenge myself is amazing. People who follow me and say, “She should be nominated,” is a bit surreal because you’re just like, “Gosh, I already have the brass ring.” But then when you have the academy and the voters recognize you and say, “we want to give you a nod,” i’m not going to lie, that’s a nice special feeling that brought me to tears a little.

I mean, yesterday on my Twitter feed I saw tweets like, “If Rhea doesn’t get nominated, I’m finally leaving the US.” It’s a joke, of course, but the love runs deep!

[Laughs] People sent me links. My fiancé will tell you I’m obsessed with NPR and apparently that’s what they said on All Things Considered this morning. And I thought, “What?! That’s crazy!” By the way, we’ve been walking around London and Londoners have congratulated me. I’m over the moon. And on a personal level too, my lovely fiancé has held my hand every morning when the nominations come out and we always watch the shows , which the other cast members are nominated for, so I never sit there and think, “What?!” We always say, “She was amazing!” Vince [Gilligan] and Peter [Gould] and all my castmates and bob [Odenkirk]Patrick [Fabian]I got texts from everyone.

With the development the character has gone through, does it mean anything to get it now?

Looking back, I can only imagine that I would have been overjoyed to have been recognized by the Television Academy at some point. But I think the growth that they’ve given me with this character and where we are now doing some of the most challenging work of my career – to be nominated now feels special. As Peter says all along, the work is there, whatever it is, it lives on and I put my heart and soul into it – blood, sweat and tears – and that matters more. And there are brilliant performances that haven’t been nominated, and that hasn’t escaped my notice.

What was it like to see Kim’s development? Her fate has become one of the standout aspects of this series.

We get the scripts one by one, and it’s not a manipulative thing. [The writers] find the show; they watch what seeps and what happens and what blooms and follow certain stories. And so I never knew what would happen. And that’s a long-winded way of saying that part of you is reading a great novel, where things just keep unfolding and the character just keeps getting richer and deeper and more complex. They allow this character – a female character – to do all these things and challenge our original way of categorizing people. Suddenly you couldn’t put them in a box anymore. And I love that she was enigmatic and I love that she was inscrutable and all those things that we usually find unlikable about women and instead it invited the audience. I found that the more I didn’t telegraph what I was thinking, the more the audience and fans felt like my confidants.

Even Monday night’s episode — the look on your face in those final moments as Mike gives Kim and Saul this kind of overview of how to proceed after what just happened is so captivating, telling you of their processing held everyone.

One of the gifts of being able to play a character for multiple seasons for years is that I have Kim’s story cellularly within me, and so the loss Kim is experiencing in that moment is also very much marred by shock. Bob and I had long conversations about the shock, even at first [Howard] Hamlin gets shot, it was important for us to realize there’s only so much you can do to get through it. …Wait, my fiancé is here and he didn’t see it because we’re in London, so he runs out of the room with his hands over his ears.

But as Kim walked towards Gus’ door, it felt like this: you have to make a decision in this moment of your life, are you ready to be a different person tomorrow after this moment? There is no turning back. Because Kim spent several seasons and possibly years of her life being ambiguous and rationalizing before Better Call Saul began. “When you put your finger on the scale, just a little to the side, as long as it’s for the good, as long as you’re helping the right person…” All those things that are out of control and selfish. She is not God. You can’t decide who deserves what. And now she’s in that place where, “You want to be the arbiter of all things? Would you kill one person to save another?” To me, I haven’t had many things close to that in my life. And I totally understood Kim in her body, walking towards her with a gun and understanding what it takes to raise that gun. And you can argue there’s no choice but to save Jimmy’s life. There is no choice. But I think it’s more about what decisions brought me here. Why is this my ultimatum?

That shocked me a lot. And when they got to that last scene you’re talking about, I could feel it in my chest. You decide where that lives in your body — sometimes it’s a lump in your throat, a tight chest, an ache in your back, you name it. And that’s what I played in that scene. It’s a loss, it’s such a loss. It’s broken, you can’t fix it.

We are in the final stretch of this final season. Was it the ending you expected for Kim?

If I could I would have my own show. I couldn’t write what they wrote. I mean, it’s not like she moved to Mars and lives in a space station – it’s not ridiculous. But I didn’t see exactly what they would do. It’s more than I could have wished for. I’m still thinking about it.

I know this seems like a really silly thing to wonder about, but I’m wondering if she’ll wear her ponytail in her final scene. Because like last night’s episode, the hair was down; we see the transformation – the ponytail had been such a reflection of her put together, not just visually but in work and life.

I will say that you are correct in noting that their physical appearance and their need to have every hair in place and to look a very specific way are part of their armor. That’s a choice, and you’re right to point it out. And very purposefully. Look, last night’s episode, when I say it was the most challenging thing of my career, last night’s episode was one of them. But so are the next few episodes.

I know you already had champagne, how else are you going to celebrate?

We eat dinner and watch the show. My fiancé can’t take it that everyone knows what happened and he doesn’t. We’ll try to figure out how to watch. It’s so much fun watching him watch the show because I don’t tell him anything. He has no idea what’s happening.

I love that. And wait before I let you go, what’s a text from Bob on a day like this. He led the charge by asking you to get a nomination.

This guy – I don’t think he gave an interview without talking about me. And by the way so excited about his nomination. Good God and what he’s up to [this season] is simply the best acting of all time. But he said, “Rhea! Nominated! You!” and then I won’t tell you the rest.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2022-07-12/emmys-nominations-2022-rhea-seehorn-better-call-saul ‘Better Call Saul’: Rhea Seehorn on Emmys, Kim’s ‘ultimatum’

Sarah Ridley

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