“One of the first things I have to do when I go back each season and I’ve been away from the character for a bit is to start by just sitting on my hands and thinking about being still… She’s very still in her face. I’m a goof and a dork.” – Rhea Seehorn
Actress Rhea Seehorn has received the highest praise of her career from her performance as Kim Wexler on the Breaking Bad prequel series Better Call Saul. Curiously, based on her previous television work it isn’t a role most people would have initially thought of her for. In an extensive conversation with Looper, Seehorn reflects on her sitcom experience prior to Better Call Saul and how she portrays a character who is so different in personality from her own.
Prior to Better Call Saul, Seehorn was best known for as a sitcom actress from appearing in shows like I’m with Her, The Starter Wife, and Whitney. Seehorn points out that at first this was a happy problem to have, but it did confuse her because of her background in theater in which she played both comedy and drama. She says, “It just so happens at my first job in L.A. was a sitcom. Then I got typecast as a sitcom actress. I was grateful to be typecast as anything, because that means people are calling me, but I was sort of perplexed because in theater that wasn’t really a thing, where you had to choose one.”
Since then, Seehorn has had the opportunity to demonstrate her dramatic abilities. Seehorn explains that because her personality is so different from Kim’s that the first thing she attempts to inhabit about the character when returning to perform as her is her body language and mannerisms… or lack thereof. She says:
“One of the first things I have to do when I go back each season and I’ve been away from the character for a bit is to start by just sitting on my hands and thinking about being still. I know Kim speaks with her hands sometimes, but she’s mostly a still person. She’s very still in her face. I’m a goof and a dork. Everyone can figure out what I’m thinking. I can’t hide anything in a conversation.”
“I really wanted Kim to have this stillness, and that arose out of the economy of language they gave her in those first couple of episodes. I thought, well, she’s clearly a very strong, interesting, intelligent person, and they hired me based on the subtext they saw me putting into the audition. So, I think they’re on the same page as me, that she doesn’t seem to be somebody who is snowed by Jimmy. She isn’t someone who is really quick to contribute to a conversation. So, why be that efficient and economic about your speech?”
“I just thought, well, let’s do deductive logic to make this character. If you’re that particular about what you say and when you speak, maybe you also don’t like people to know your thoughts. Maybe you’re economic with your gestures and your facial expressions. It just became this position of power for me, for the character, versus the position of weakness. I could just choose not to speak.”