Last month, AMC made cable television history with the series premiere of Better Call Saul and its record breaking 6.9 million viewers. As the highly anticipated spinoff of the channel’s award-winning show, Breaking Bad, the new series–a prequel to its predecessor–has quickly become a Monday night ritual for home audiences interested in the antics of the show’s namesake (played by Bob Odenkirk), and how he went from small-time attorney Jimmy McGill to Walter White’s infamous criminal lawyer Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad.
With Better Call Saul’s narrative dominated by male characters, actress Rhea Seehorn is a standout as the show’s female component, Kim Wexler. In the role of Kim, Seehorn–whom audiences will recognize from her roles in shows including Franklin & Bash and Whitney–plays a sharp litigator with ambition to spare and a pressing two-year plan to prove it. There is though, one possible hurdle standing between this career woman and her goals, as audiences of the show are beginning to gage, and that is her relationship (and subsequent history) with one of the firm’s partners, none other than Jimmy McGill.
Seehorn explains, “I think that she’s very ambitious, and very smart; came from very humble beginnings like Jimmy, worked her butt off, like Jimmy—and thinks she knows her path…but the reality of her journey and her relationship with Jimmy could compromise that.”
As for whether the actress understands Kim’s attraction to her tenacious co-worker, she most “definitely” gets it. “You may not want to find yourself in a place in life that requires Jimmy’s services, but you can’t deny that you’d want to hang out with him,” she says. “I think through Kim, we see how charming and funny and smart and incredibly loyal Jimmy is…and that’s sexy.”
And, while being a no nonsense attorney, trying to push ahead in a man’s world, translates into a closet full of nondescript grey pants suits for Kim, off screen, Seehorn’s wardrobe is a bit more of a head turner. An admirer of the masculine tilt of screen legend Marlene Dietrich’s personal style, the actress also has a penchant for the ultra-feminine silhouettes of the ‘50s. When combined, Seehorn’s dual-sided taste in clothing sees her dressed in femme fatale worthy red carpet ensembles, such as the curve hugging black mesh dress the actress wore to the Better Call Saul premiere in Los Angeles.
Below, we talk to Seehorn about her new show, pleasing Breaking Bad’s diehard fan base and the many layers to her stellar fashion sense.
Tell me about your character Kim Wexler? What makes her tick and what gets under her skin? Judging from the first few episodes, I’m guessing Jimmy might have something to do with the latter.
Ha, ha, well…I don’t think Kim likes to let on that anything or anyone gets under her skin!
Fair enough! As the ratings for the show’s premiere showed, “Better Call Saul” is this Spring’s most highly anticipated new shows. Were you nervous when you signed on about winning the approval of “Breaking Bad” fans? They’re a diehard bunch. Were you a fan yourself?
I was, and am, a huge Breaking Bad fan. Watching if for the 3rd time on Netflix now! And it was daunting to go in and audition for people that you think are writing and performing and producing at the top of their game…our game. But, it’s a pleasure as well. And ultimately, my job is to just tell the story that the brilliant Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould hand me, the very, very, very, best that I can. And that’s it.
Do you think you have to be “Breaking Bad” fan to really enjoy the show, or is it equally as enjoyable for those who might be unfamiliar with the show?
No, I don’t. There are really rich layers for a Breaking Bad fan to enjoy in watching the origin story of Saul, and even Mike Ehrmantraut. But, I also think this story totally stands on it’s own, if you’re one of the few that never saw Breaking Bad. My mom can attest to that!
Now we’re not asking you to reveal too much, but…are there any future narrative developments involving Kim that you’re especially excited about?
I love that so many of the storylines and character arcs that Vince and Peter, and all of our other brilliant writers, are employing or laying the ground work for…it’s hard to single out one. And, I can’t tell!
Hmmm, well is there maybe then one upcoming episode you would advise fans not to miss? One with a big reveal perhaps, or a special guest appearance?
Oh my gosh…this might sound like a cop out, but, one of the things that I think our creators and writers are so masterful with is pace…over the whole season. Nothing is wasted and the pace is a roller coaster that must force quiet contemplation and then ratchet you up to be thrown off a cliff, in exactly the order they intend. I would advise (even if I weren’t on it!) to watch every episode, in the order that they show it!
How can we not now?! On the show, your character’s style is simple and very proper and professional; personally, do you like a more conservative look, or do prefer your own wardrobe to be more casual and relaxed?
Frankly, I have a lot of different sides to me. When I am attempting to keep up with my fiancé’s kids, I am lucky if I’m not in pajamas at a soccer game. But, in general…I dress a bit more eclectic than Kim, and with a lot more humor, I think.
How would you describe your personal style in a nutshell?
I’ve got two basic sides that used to fight, and now coexist in peace. I love menswear, from classic à la Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, and Diane Keaton to the french rocker version à la Charlotte Gainsbourg. The other side is, and always has been, very girly…with very curvy silhouettes from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. I could look at pictures from Dior’s “New Look”, or classic silver screen red carpet looks all day. And, I can’t live without black liquid eyeliner, and I own a 1940s two-piece skirt suit straight out of a USO clip.
Often, people unintentionally end up with something of a “uniform” in their closet, a staple look that they depend on. Do you have an outfit from your wardrobe that is like this, something quintessentially “you?”
My fiancé’s shirts…that I love to steal; my suspenders and my collection of oxfords and my friends would say I was lying if I didn’t ‘fess up to how many white tank tops I own.
What about your red carpet style, do you have a particular “look” you gravitate towards?
I’ve got a curvy/athletic figure and a big, fat, heart-shaped face that almost always looks better in old Hollywood glamour styles…but I love to take risks, and feel very inspired by people that seem to navigate those two worlds like Marion Cotillard, Diane Kruger, and Chloe Sevigny.
What’s your favourite red carpet style moment?
Many…I just love to see all those beautiful gowns on all those beautiful people. I’ve never gotten Julia Roberts black and white gown, when she won the Oscar, out of my head. I could look at the art that Rooney Mara shows up in all night, and recently was obsessed with Emma Stone’s Lanvin crystal embroidered jumpsuit at the Golden Globes….I mean…stop it. I love pants so much.
What item in your closet would you never want to part with?
My dad’s mint green, giant collared, button-down dress shirt from the ’70s. He’s gone now, and I would never wear it..but I just like looking at it on the end of the rack in my closet.
What item in your closet might have already overstayed its welcome?
Soooo many ill fitting jeans, and bland, cheap, conservative “audition outfits/uniforms” that my fiance, very sweetly, ribs me about.
Any particular Spring/Summer trends you’re excited about this season?
I don’t know if they’re still in, and I don’t care…I can’t let go of jumpsuits…with shorts or pants. I’m loving the new mix of prints I’m seeing on runway shows too…lots of stuff that seems personal to the designer’s heritage…I love wearing a story! And, I must have an a-line or perhaps circle cut, bright red skirt. The end.
On the topic of trends, are you one to chase the latest looks off the runway, or would you say you prefer sticking to classic ensembles?
I love to look at trends, and I love to celebrate them on the bodies or age ranges that should be wearing them…but that being said, I don’t have any desire to make sure I graft them all on to me.
What are some of your favourite brand/designers, and what do you like about their style?
I love Dior for being so feminine, but still taking risks. I love Lanvin, Altuzarra and Haney for being sexy without trying; Proenza Schouler, Erdem and Stella McCartney for making you feel like walking art; Opening Ceremony, Calvin Klein and Equipment for all the menswear inspired wear; and Saint Laurent, Nina Ricci, Chloé , Valentino, Alexander Wang, and Dolce & Gabbana for making you feel like you might be sexier if you eat that sandwich.
That last one was the best reason ever. What style trait do you feel like is most attractive to people? In other words, if you were looking to attract attention from someone, what element of your personal style would you seek to highlight?
Laugh easily. Don’t scan the room for someone more important than the one you’re talking to, and remain curious about other human beings. When you’re focused on that stuff, it really won’t matter what you’re wearing.
Do you have any style icons?
Marion Cotillard, Diane Kruger, Connie Nielsen, Michelle Obama, Julianne Moore, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chloe Sevigny, Patti Hansen, Lupita Nyong’o, and…soooo, many more! These women are doing “them” and no one else. As the famous saying goes: they are wearing their clothes, not the other way around…but they are wearing some fabulous clothes!!