Michael Mando on his ‘Better Call Saul’ Co-stars: “I can tell you that I’ve learned an incredible lesson from each one of them”

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Actor Michael Mando

“Until you believe in yourself, it doesn’t matter what the whole world will tell you, you’ll always have a sleepless night.” – Jonathan Banks advice to Michael Mando

On Better Call Saul, Michael Mando plays conflicted criminal Ignacio “Nacho” Varga. Mando spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the awe he has for his co-stars on the Breaking Bad prequel series, and shares what he has learned from them while working with them.

One thing Mando appreciates about the role is having the opportunity to act opposite well-respected acting veterans like Giancarlo Esposito. He explains, “These guys are much, much more experienced than I am, and to sit there in the ring with them and to go toe-to-toe is very, very humbling. I come at it with full-force, but at the same time I come at it with a lot of humility knowing that these are masters that I’m dealing with. I can tell you that I’ve learned an incredible lesson from each one of them.”

In particular, Mando explains what he has learned from Jonathan Banks, who has played Mike Ehrmantraut on both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul and from Raymond Cruz, who plays Tuco. Mando reveals,

What I’ve learned from Jonathan Banks — we were in season two and we were shooting a scene and he was watching me from afar. After the scene he said, “Come here, I wanna talk to you, kid.” He said, “Listen, I’m gonna tell you something…” He doesn’t like throwing compliments around, but he said, “I know you’re good and everybody in the crew knows you’re good, but you don’t know that you’re good, and I bet you that you can’t sleep at night.” He said, “Until you believe in yourself, it doesn’t matter what the whole world will tell you, you’ll always have a sleepless night.” Surely he was right. That really made me understand the importance of self-confidence. I felt like he had gone through it himself and he doesn’t wish it upon me, that torment of always aiming for that perfection, without ever the fulfillment of feeling whole. That was a wonderful lesson from Jonathan Banks.

I’ll tell you another and it’s from Raymond Cruz, who plays Tuco. We were out in the desert. It was my first time shooting, and we had to close the set because there was a sandstorm. I asked Raymond, I said, “What’s your advice? You went through Breaking Bad. Do you have any advice for me?” He sorta paused, looked around, and he said, “You see all these people around you here? You see how hard they’re working? You have somebody taking care of your costume. If a button falls, someone sews it back on. If there’s too much sun, someone brings you an umbrella. If you’re thirsty, someone runs and brings you a water bottle. Do you know why? Because their livelihood depends on how good you are in front of that camera. So when they yell action, on those days where you’re thinking that you’re really, really tired, remember that you’re not just doing it for yourself. You’ve got hundreds of people whose job security depends on what you do. You have a huge responsibility not only to yourself and your family, but to all these people and all these people’s families. You make sure that, being that last line of defense, that you’re working at least as hard as the hardest working person on that crew. And you should be working even harder.”

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About Author

In college, overachiever Christopher McKittrick double-majored in Film and English because he loves to read, write, and watch movies. Since then Chris – who was born and raised on Long Island, New York and currently lives in Queens – has become a published author of fiction and non-fiction, a contributor to entertainment websites, and has spoken about literature, film, and comic books at various conferences across the country when he’s not getting into trouble in New York City (apparently it’s illegal to sleep on street corners...) For more information about Chris, visit his website here!

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