Better Call Saul Q&A — Rhea Seehorn on What Jimmy and Kim's Final Moments Mean to Her

Rhea Seehorn, who plays Kim Wexler on AMC’s Better Call Saul, discusses how she approached playing a “completely different” Kim in the final episodes, having an emotional breakdown on a bus full of strangers and why she viewed Kim’s confession as an “act of love” for Jimmy.
First off, congratulations on your long-overdue Emmy nomination for Better Call Saul, as well as your nomination for Cooper's Bar! How did it feel to have that come to fruition after so much talk about it from fans and critics through the years?
It's amazing! Of course, being recognized by the Academy and getting a nomination is amazing. It's been amazing for six seasons that our show always gets nominated in a sea of hundreds and hundreds of shows on the air. It's not exactly something like I sat around crying until it happened But having the fans and the critics being so supportive of me over the years, it was a wonderful thing that so many people had expressed so much goodwill towards me. That was really, really lovely.
Perhaps the only thing fans wanted more than your Emmy nomination was to know if Kim was alive during Breaking Bad and if she would survive this show. Were you relieved when you finally learned Kim’s fate?
I didn't know Kim's fate at the beginning of the season. Peter [Gould] is always very respectful of actors though to let them know when they are going to be written off and when they're going to die. He did not say that to me, so I was thrilled just because nobody wants to leave the sandbox early. We have lots of characters and when the story necessitates a character dying, then that is what's going to happen. But I wanted to stay in the sandbox as long as I could, just because I love these people and I love playing this role so much.
Kim may be alive, but she is certainly different from the Kim Wexler we’ve known all these seasons. Between the costume and hair and her state of mind, did you feel like you were playing a new character entirely?
She is a completely different character. Once I finally got the wig on and was wearing the costumes, they do change you. But the conversations with Jennifer Bryan and Ruth Carsch and Cheri Montesanto – costume, hair, and makeup – and with Peter and with Vince [Gilligan] were just as instrumental. The conversations about what that wig should look like and what these costumes should say were all around the idea that she's not hiding from the law. She's not trying to escape justice. She is a shell of a person who just doesn't want to be looked at anymore. She wants to just be gray and blend in and disappear really, and that informed a lot of stuff for me.
We had long talks about how long has she been like this. Does she seem content with this life she's living in Florida or can we see Kim in there struggling to suppress everything? When she gets the phone call from Jimmy, you see, "Oh, there is a piece of the old Kim we know in there somewhere." I had to come to a place in creating this new Kim that very much was a different person but that's still on the shoulders of who Kim had become before, if that makes sense. It's the absolute anguish and pain of what she went through and her decision to have to leave everything behind – Jimmy, the law, and her entire life. She didn't really come out of it, I guess is what I'm saying. She created this other persona and decided, "This is all I get in life. This is all I get. I can't be trusted to make any decisions. I can't be trusted to be a leader. I can't be trusted to pass judgment on things. I just need to drive my car exactly the speed limit and keep my head down, make a decent living, have nice enough friends, a nice enough boyfriend and a jigsaw puzzle, and that's what I deserve."
The call with Jimmy does send Kim into action, with her creating the affidavit and sharing it with Howard’s wife Cheryl, who asks Kim why she is doing all this. But we don’t get Kim’s answer. Why do you think she does it?
I think she thought that was her penance. She has this life that we know is much less than what she wanted out of life. I don't just mean scamming. I mean helping the world and practicing law. We've seen her and heard her talk about how important that all was to her, and she was truly in love with Jimmy. She gave all of that up. When she interviewed with Schweikart & Cokely years and years and years ago – the first job interview when she declined the job – they asked her, "Why did you leave your small town?" and she said, "Because I wanted more." So I looked at Florida as almost like an Icarus thing, where Kim thinks she flew too close to the sun. How dare she want more for her life? So now, there’s Jimmy's call and his challenge back to her of "Why don't you turn yourself in if you think you have such a guilty conscience?" Which, of course, is absurd. Kim didn't do the things that Saul in the Breaking Bad years has done. She is not in a position where she is on the lam from the Feds or the law in any way, but it does make her stop and think, "Well, is there anything that I could do more to atone for what I've done?" That includes giving a deposition and trying to help clear Howard's reputation, both by that deposition circulating in the courts and the legal system and then telling his widow so that maybe she can repair that.
So, I think she's there to put her money where her mouth is, And I think it's important to her in that moment when Cheryl's asking, "Why are you doing this?" I don't think Kim could answer because what she's struggling with is "How much of this is a gift for Cheryl and how much of this is for Kim? Is this really the kinder thing to do?" I think it is, but I'm not sure and I don't think Kim is sure either because that's a much bigger philosophical question. But I think it's very important in that scene for Kim to not fall apart or cry because she does not want Cheryl to feel sorry for her in any way, shape, or form, which is why she's very dry in that scene. "This is what I did and I'm here to tell you." And Kim giving any reasons for that or crying and begging for forgiveness would be the wrong thing to do. She needs to allow Cheryl to be mad, to hate her, and to scream at her, and she deserved it. I think that's why she doesn't answer the question of why.
During that phone call with Jimmy/Gene, Kim says very little, but she does tell him to turn himself in. And yet, in the scene with Cheryl, she covers for him – or at least chooses not to implicate him – by pretending to not know if he is even alive. So, what does she really want for him?
I think it's very telling that there is one thing Kim still lies about to Cheryl. Kim knows he's alive and so I know that some people's takeaway from her confession could be she's willing to also have charges brought up on Jimmy, but there's no part of Kim's confession that has legal ramifications for him. She's not in there talking about the cartel stuff or money or any of that. And she lies and says she doesn't even know if he's alive because, to me, that is some act of love, to say, "I'm still not willing to cross the line where I go to the Feds and say I got a phone call from him and you can trace it or whatever."
When she tells him to turn himself in – and the scene was written beautifully by Vince – and she says, "I don't know what kind of life you're living, but it can't be much." I think there is genuine compassion. She doesn't know. Is he out there running scared? Is he living in a ditch? Is he terrified that the cartel's going to blow his head off any day? She really doesn't know what the life he's living is and so I don't think it's just this Pollyanna thing of "turn yourself in because then you'll be conscience-free." But she knew the Jimmy that we all saw and I think her heart aches for that person. And that that person might still be in him somewhere and that person couldn't live with what he's done and not atoning for it in some way. She's looking for the person that used to have a conscience. That's what she's looking for.
Your performance of Kim’s breakdown on the bus was so moving, but that must have been difficult to shoot. What was it like to finally have Kim let out all of those emotions after so long?
There's always this danger and this worry that actors have to not give into emotions because if you're indulgent with that stuff, it's almost never as interesting as somebody who is trying to remain composed. So, with giant emotions like that, you want to be very careful. But I went to Vince and Peter when I got the script and talked to them… because Kim doesn't fall apart all the time. That is partially why in real life it is more painful to see the person who always sucks it up literally fall apart. We decided that people will understand that she is crying for not just what happened in Episode 12 – she's crying for everything that we have seen for six seasons and the tragedy of what she could have been, the tragedy of what Jimmy could have been, and the lives affected and the hurt and the relationship that was ruined. It's everything. To absorb that, to sit on a bus, and feel that weight in my chest, then it's just technically about trying not to let it rise up. We all know that feeling when the tightness in the chest becomes the lump in the throat and you really try to swallow it down. I honestly just tried really hard not to lose it on a bus full of strangers. By the time I was doing that scene, I felt completely alone. It was easy for me to do that and then in the scene I just tried really hard not to let it come up and, when it does, it's just– I don't know what to say. I spent a lot of time thinking about the tragedy of Jimmy and Kim and I find it horribly sad. So that's what came out.
Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in the series finale of Better Call Saul
In the final episode, Jimmy somewhat lures Kim back to Albuquerque with a lie. Clearly his plan works, but why do you think Kim chooses to go?
I think she returns with fury! That is how I played the courtroom scene. I do hope that people get this. She chose to not actually help the Feds catch Jimmy. She could have had her phone tapped. If she wanted to turn him in or endanger him, she could have and she did not. So, I think her not crossing that final line, even though she's desperate to stop wearing this hair shirt, was a final act of love and it is incredibly painful and infuriating that he would cross it.
Of course, Jimmy doesn’t actually implicate Kim, but instead gives a heartfelt confession. What does it mean for Kim to see that?
She is glad to bear witness to what occurs. Not only is he not going to implicate her but, he is going to own everything that he's done. And then he goes even further to speak truth about Chuck and everything else – all of these things that she really thinks have been corroding him for years and years. And now she's finally hearing the real truth and I think she thinks that it's his only possibility to live a full life, as much as it's horrible that he's going to prison. I think she doesn't wish that on him. I'm sure the legal part of Kim is like, "I wish I could have helped you construct this if you were going to confess because we're just adding years." I think it's very painful for her to realize he could have gone for just a few years on this deal, but I think that deep down she believes he's saving his soul. I don't mean in a religious way. I mean in a "while you're here on earth" way. I think she wants him to not have to live in the shadows anymore, which is partially what she's been doing as well.
In the finale, though, we do see Kim take some steps toward rebuilding her life and dipping her toe back into the legal world. And, of course, she has that final moment with Jimmy at the prison. What does that final scene mean to you, as it relates to what Kim’s life will be after the series is over?
In my opinion that is definitely not the last time she's going to see him. But I know Peter wanted to write an ending – and he masterfully did – that, when the screen goes black, it's not just that there will be people who think one thing over the other. It is that people will continue the story in their head, that it's a story that is still on a trajectory that is going. There may be different opinions about which direction it is going, but it's such a smart ending because it really honors the larger philosophical questions that the show raises about actions and consequences and nature versus nurture and morality and unconditional love. I'm still thinking about the ending and what it means. I just happen to be a hopeless romantic, so I don't know. But I think she's absolutely going to try to figure out how to reduce his sentence! I don't know if they're ever going to live happily ever after, but I think she loves him and I think she intends to help him, but on the up and up.
Peter and Vince have both said they will likely be stepping away from this universe next, but Peter did mention that Kim feels like a character with a lot more to do. What’s next for you and are you open to doing more with this character?
I want to keep doing great writing. Would I want to revisit Kim Wexler? Anytime. Anytime, anywhere, if that's what they wanted to do. But I also just really hope even more than that to work with these writers again and this crew again and hopefully the cast members on different projects. It's a gift to be surrounded by this kind of talent and to get to utter the words of this level of writing. I'm still in the process of figuring out exactly what my next project is and I can't say more about that. But anytime any of these writers wanted to work with me, it might just as well be a Batphone. I'll just show up.
For more on Better Call Saul’s series finale, read our Q&A with co-creator Peter Gould. And for more on the entire final season, read all our cast and creator Q&As here.