How ‘Better Call Saul’ Recreated the ‘Breaking Bad’ RV and More
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read if you haven’t watched the 11th episode of “Better Call Saul” Season 6, titled “Breaking Bad.”
When set designer Ashley Marsh found out that “Better Call Saul” would bring the iconic RV from “Breaking Bad” to life, she was thrilled. And luckily, the original “Krystal Ship” had been safely kept on Sony’s lot. There was only one problem: the motorhome was “completely emptied inside”.
Now, “Breaking Bad” has always used two “VRs” – a fully functional vehicle for exterior and driving shots, and a separate soundstage for interior shots. To recreate this set for “Better Call Saul”, Marsh “religiously reviewed ‘Breaking Bad'” and took “8,000 screenshots”. With careful attention to detail, the team had to replace every beaker, methylamine jar, round bottom flask and more. Everything we see inside the RV on “Better Call Saul” was new.
“We had to go back and buy everything,” says Marsh Variety. “We literally looked at the photos until we found out what those elements were.”
To make sure the RV’s interior looked exactly like the one in “Breaking Bad”, Marsh then sought out a 1986 Bounder – the same model used for the exterior shots – to piece together seats, lights, a door mini fridge and window coverings. . His search ended with Frank Sandoval, who runs a “Breaking Bad” RV travel agency in Albuquerque. (He also appeared in Season 5 of “Breaking Bad” as an extra.) After signing an “ironclad NDA,” Sandoval was happy to loan out parts of his Bounder — which ferries tourists around Albuquerque. to ‘Breaking Bad’ fan favorite locations – to the ‘Better Call Saul’ crew.
According to Marsh, Sandoval was the only person they could find who had the exact window coverings shown in “Breaking Bad”. While the typical viewer would never notice such a minor incongruity, Marsh says series co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould pointed out that fans will “inevitably cut side-by-side” flashback scenes from “Better Call Saul.” with the originals. from “Breaking Bad”. “We had to be hyper aware of the correctness of that,” she says.
What was exciting for Marsh is that this episode of “Better Call Saul” shows the interior of the RV in a way that “Breaking Bad” never did: in motion, with Walt and Jesse preparing to go somewhere. This allowed the set designers, as well as Gilligan and writer-director Thomas Schnauz, to imagine how the meth-cooking duo might pack their gear for the trip. When shooting the interior in motion, the special effects team attached airbags under the set to rock the camper back and forth, mimicking driving through the desert.
To reshoot the “Breaking Bad” scene in which Walt and Jesse hold Saul (Bob Odenkirk) at gunpoint in front of a shallow grave, the “Better Call Saul” construction crew dug a grave behind the studios on desert-like terrain. , while the greens crew brought in dirt.
Working on “Saul,” as well as 2019’s “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” Marsh had his fair share of decorating challenges. When “Breaking Bad” introduced Ed the Disappearer (Robert Forster), who runs a witness protection program at his Best Quality Vacuum store, the location was a real-life vacuum store, which required very little changes. When they returned for “El Camino”, it had since been completely transformed into a furniture store. So Marsh and set buyer Rachel Srigley were tasked with turning it into Best Quality Vacuum, a process that took three months.
“Rachel was researching vacuum cleaners to find the exact same models, the exact same colors,” says Marsh. “We cleaned every vacuum store in town for all their parts – anything close, just to get the volume.”
Still, Marsh says the trickiest job she’s had in the Gilligan-verse is decorating the department store in Gene-centric “Better Call Saul” last week. In the episode, Gene orchestrates an elaborate heist of Armani suits, Air Jordans, and linen shirts for cabbie Jeffy (Pat Healy), while distracting mall security guards with freshly baked Cinnabons.
“It was an empty Sears,” says Marsh, “with literally nothing inside. Not a shelf, no pegs, not a single thing to hang anything on.
The team had to import tons of sofas, shelves, light fixtures and lamps, as well as “trucks” full of clothes. Meanwhile, Gene’s rhyming instructions for Jeffy (“One, Armani suits and run! Two, Air Jordan shoes for you!”, etc.) served as a guide for the store’s design.
It wasn’t the first time Marsh had to build a store from scratch. In fact, between seasons 4 and 5 of “Better Call Saul,” the Cinnabon that Gene works at in Omaha (which is filmed in the Cottonwood mall in Albuquerque) went bankrupt. Luckily, the production team was able to buy much of what was left – tables, chairs, coke machines, the huge cake mixer – but Marsh says they nevertheless “had to painstakingly go back and take apart what was missing and put everything back in place. together.” By partnering with Cinnabon, they were also able to buy the specialized oven, the dough sheeter and the proofers.
“I’m a nerd,” admits Marsh. “Part of the reason I really like going back and recreating sets is that you can really dive in and get excited about things that most people would find boring. It’s like playing a big game of iSpy, but at a professional level.