Feb 13th 2017 by BobOdenkirk • 35 Questions • 7542 Points
In October of 1997, I was a vault supervisor for armored truck company Loomis Fargo, when I made off with $17.3 million. At the time it was the second largest cash robbery ever to happen on US soil.
A movie based on the heist starring Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones and directed by Jared Hess (the guy who made Napoleon Dynamite) is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.
My AMA time is up now, but thank you all for your participation in the Ask Me Anything session :-)
Hi Bob! I'm doing stand up and writing half-hour specs but I live in Florida. I know I have to move but which city is best for pursuing a career in comedy? Chicago for its improv? New York for its stand up? Or LA for literally everything?
What happened to the 2 mil that is still unaccounted for? Did you really only go to Mexico with 50k?
Chicago. More options, more places to practice in different modes of comedy. Get there. Now. Also, don't write half-hour specs. Write original comedy to start and get it ONSTAGE. Go take classes and perform at Annoyance Theatre, UCB, Second City, ImprovOlympic. Also, do stand up at alternative spaces. Get to work
No idea where it is I only ever had what I took with me and what was sent to me.
Hey Mr. Odenkirk, if you could star in the remake of any classic film, which film would you choose?
Would you tell us if you knew? ;)
Good question. Hmmmmm (me, thinking) What about "to Kill A Mockingbird" and I get to be a far more conflicted Atticus Finch? Or the Maltese Falcon, only with a twist - it's a chocolate Santa instead of a falcon - something worth killing someone for.
Did you get to spend much time on set? What was it like to have a movie based on your story?
Uhhh...dit dit dit....teh teh teh...shhhhhhhh...ding ding dinga dong...eeeeeeeeeeee, let me check with my supervisor
I did get to spend a good amount of time on the set in North Carolina and having a movie based on my story was a bit surreal and a bit funny to be honest. When I first got there nobody knew who I was, they just thought I was another producer or something and when they realized they were very gracious and curious.
I've noticed that you've spent a lot of time in Chicago. As someone from Chicago, I was wondering if there is anything you really like about it? Thanks for your time!
I've read that once the FBI actually closed in on you, you were relieved because you were fearing for your life at that point. Any truth to that? How did it actually feel when the FBI took you in?
I love Chicago. Chicago has nice people, beautiful architecture, mood and character, great food, weather (when you live in LA you miss "weather", y'know?)... I loved it when I lived there, too...because of the awesome theatre and improv scene. So many theaters, so many people doing interesting stuff. And very little of the bad influence of the larger industry around you. More pure artistic efforts.
I felt relieved, I knew that things were getting ready to come to an end and getting caught was a stress reliever even if I knew I was going to jail.
What are Jandice and Kelly up to now? Did you stay in touch with them? Masterminds was a fun movie. Were you offended that they portrayed you as an idiot being so easily manipulated?
No idea. No. Glad you like the movie. And it would take a lot more than that to offend me, I thought it was funny.
The movie is hilarious. How accurate was the movie?
Yeah, it could happen. Are you suggesting I start being funny? I get it. No...but seriously, you could. It would help an awful lot to have that self-awareness in it. Now...a "showbiz" career...like, full on - move to LA and dig in..? I don't think so. It takes years to establish yourself here. BUT if you just wanted to write funny stuff and find somewhere to put it up, you could do that and you could develop if you had an open mind and approached it seriously. But not too seriously, it's friggin comedy
Well, it's 'based' on a true event, and there are accurate bits sprinkled throughout. However, it's a Hollywood comedy.
Has this affected your ability to get a job? Being a quasi-famous bank robber and all?
Interesting question. The obvious answer is Work Work Work. Put them to the test. Write stuff, create, then think as deeply as you can about what you did, what worked, what didn't. The thing is, how "honed" can these instincts be? After 40-some movies shouldn't every single Woody Allen film be absolutely perfect? But it isn't, and it never will be. This is because it's still a creative endeavor, and uncertainty is your partner in it, and you have to use your instincts and skills but know that you will need magic to be "great" and you can't count on that magic, you just have to do your part and hope it shows up
Good question , Oddly most employers are very understanding as long as you are honest with them up front .
How can I learn to say "Goddamnit" as hilariously as you do?
Have you had problems getting positions of trust at all?
I ll be honest and say I probably have to put forth a bit more effort
In your movie, Let's Go to Prison, Chi McBride's character professes a love for ducks and hits on Will Arnett's character in the prison showers with a rubber ducky. As a director, what kind of direction do you give to your actors when creating ridiculous characters within a comedy setting?
Why did you do it?
Play it seriously. But with Chi I didn't need to do that, he owned that role and got it right from the start, same goes for everyone in that film and Michael Shannon sure played it straight, huh? Great performances. GIRLFRIENDS DAY, which shows starting tomorrow on Netflix is the SAME thing. VERY SILLY script and scenario (I helped write it), but the only way it "works" is if you play it serious as can be done. Everyone does that here.
I just wanted to change my life, in hindsight the quick and easy way is not always the best way. I do not recommend doing what I did.
How do you become at better at improv? I can think of funny stuff to say. Just not on the spot.
But would you recommend it if you had not been caught?
Stop trying to think of funny stuff to say. Just say what comes in to your head. IMPROV is not a CLEVERNESS CONTEST if done right. Try to see the show "TJ AND DAVE" in the theatre in New York or Chicago (they play in both places all the time). That's a great example of improv done right. Also the GROUNDLINGS, while hilarious, are also doing great improv, especially in their THURSDAY night alumni show.
No....philosophically I would not recommend it, however a life in the Caribbean wouldn't have been soooo bad I think.
What is the set like between takes on Better Call Saul, given that all of the actors are all so serious by nature?
Prior to planning and executing the robbery, would have you ever thought of yourself as an armoured car robber? If not, when was the turning point?
We are truly great friends. Mando, Seehorn, Fabian, McKean, Banks...we hang out together, go on hikes, go to dinner all the time, go on bike rides (there are 400 miles of bike trail/street lanes in Albuquerque!!) It is an amazing family of actors.
Prior to, I would have never even considered it but one day life kinda slapped me in the face. I was working sometimes 75-80 hrs a week for $8.15 an hour, I didn't even have a real home life because I was never there I was working all the time and unhappy which is understandable considering how old I was at the time. I felt cornered and one day the joking in the break room about robbing the place suddenly didn't seem so far fetched.
How do you differentiate Jimmy McGill and Saul Goodman in your head, scene to scene? When are they the same, when are they different?
Hello David! How was life in prison? And what is the biggest lesson you learned from this whole experience?
Saul is pretty shut down, emotionally. Jimmy is an open floodgate of emotions. But life is battering Jimmy down, and he is getting colder, harder, more defensive. Soon he'll be Saul, a misanthropic manipulator who views people as pawns in a game he's trying to "win" - remind you of anyone?
well move into a broom closet with two other people ,and eat hospital food every day . That part really sucks , its supposed to suck to discourage returning . Freedom is a precious , precious thing
Were you apprehensive about Fargo? The baggage that came from it being a 'TV version' of such an iconic film must have been intimidating, though it ultimately (and quickly) transcended that you couldn't have known that up front?
How much did you make off the movie?
Hell, yes! But I would say I was even more apprehensive about SAUL. Look, the biggest fear with Saul was that I would taint people's justifiable love for the great and awesome Breaking Bad. Fargo, the movie, is fantastic, but it was years in the past and I could see that the TV show, so smartly created by Noah Hawley, didn't connect up overmuch with the specifics of the film. It just utilized that wonderful mix of humor, character, and violence that is so unique and so entertaining. I knew by the time I'd read page 9 of the script that it was super fun
I didn't get money for this, what I got was a great vacation and a chance to tick something off of my bucket list. I know that isn't exciting to most people but I, regular Joe, had the chance to be on a movie set...who wouldn't want to do that? Plus the food truck was awesome, my wife called me a hobbit for having second breakfasts.
Aside from all your kick-ass starring roles, you've done a ton of bit parts and cameos. What was your favorite? Which do you get recognized for most often?
David, what do you feel like was your biggest mistake in the heist? Getting too many people involved? It seems like you got away with it for a while until all of your cohorts started talking too much.
"How I Met Your Mother" was a "bit part" I did, over a few episodes, maybe 6 or so, and for some people it is the ONLY thing they've ever seen me in. Can you imagine that? A person who knows the bit players from "HIMYM" but has never seen Breaking Bad or Fargo or Mr Show? Well, start imagining it - because it's happened, more than once.
To be honest, doing it at all was my biggest mistake but that thought comes with a bit of perspective. I will say though, if you have a "secret" it's best to keep it to yourself, lol.
What is the biggest difference between the real you and how you were portrayed in the movie? Something that was super accurate?
No. The ethical slipperiness would just scare the bejesus out of me. Now...would an "atheist" believe in "bejesus"...I don't think so.
Well I'm taller than Zach and we have different Carolina accents. He even says that he played a much 'dumber version' of me, I'm actually pretty laid back. Something that was very accurate was the victory dance when leaving the vault.
One of my favorite guilty pleasure movies is Run Ronnie Run. I read an article about how you all hate the movie so much and took your names of it. Can you elaborate on the process of creating the film and your feelings toward it?
Was the victory dance caught on cctv like in the film? If so, is there anywhere we can go to see the real victory dance? lol.
It would take too long to get into this. There is still so much I love about Run Ronnie Run. So many funny lines and performance moments. I feel bad that the movie doesn't hang together very well. Basically, David and I got cut out of the finishing aspects of the film. I am not saying we could have made it sing, but if we'd been able to continue working on it, we could have made it hum, at least.
Truthfully I don't know , I kinda hope its out there somewhere , lol
On a more personal level, what are some of your favorite films?
How is your life now? Can you relate to the one you were before all this?
HERE WE GO...I love these movies. Watch them all!! CHINATOWN, THE LAST DETAIL, WITHNAIL AND I, ZELIG, ANNIE HALL, STARDUST MEMORIES, SPINAL TAP, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, TRUE GRIT (Coen Bros version), BEING THERE, AU REVOIR LES ENFANT...that's my list right now
My life is actually pretty ordinary, the movie really did not change a thing. I still get up in the morning and go to work just like everyone else.
You didn't hide any of the money???
Jim Downey was the head writer at SNL when I worked there. He oversaw everything, and seemed to contribute to stuff that he liked - which is to say he didn't put his hands on everything. But he wrote a piece called "CHANGEBANK" that made me notice that you could really make a comedy meal out of riffing on the TONE of something; in this case banking commercials. Obviously, there's a funny comedy idea there; a bank that only makes change. But the best part of the humor is the presentation and riffing on the kind of low-key commercial that was, at the time, fresh and prevalent. A keen observation on his part, and he made something classic out of it.
Mr. Odenkirk! I love pretty much everything you've ever worked on.
Are you going to be in any of the new Tim and Eric stuff coming out?
Did you manage to bury any of the money before you got busted?
No. Love those guys. Can't wait to see the new season of DECKER!!! When is it on? Do YOU know??? But I am in GIRLFRIENDS DAY - Premiering TOMORROW on NETFLIX. Watch it anytime you like - it's on Netflix! No rush. hope you like it.
Nope. And FYI, American currency uses an ink that never really dries and burying money can lead to mold and rot and thus worthless money.
First of all, thank you for doing this. Big fan!
I have two questions, if I may.
1) What do you do in your spare time? To take the edge off?
And 2) which Breaking Bad character would you have loved to have played had you not been Saul?
Why didn't you do this? I assume you got caught first but why not make a beeline for a country with no extradition laws/international water?
- Go to the Dog Park with my amazing dog, Olive.
- I want to have a run at Walter White, of course. Aim high, right? No one could ever be better than Bryan, though.
Well, you know what they say about hindsight.
You are a sort of Forrest Gump/Zelig of comedy, a big difference being that you outright earned your opportunities. Second City, SNL, Conan, Tim & Eric, Ben Stiller/Judd Apatow universe, etc... Is there a common thread that makes these standout? Same rules apply to Fargo/Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul?
What do they say about hindsight?
I am most comfortable on the fringe. Something that has a risky and uncertain vibe accompanying it. Maybe that is just a protective maneuver. After all, if you're trying something fresh and uncertain then you can always blame failure on that aspect of it - playing with fire you can get burned and just shrug - what did I expect? GIRLFRIENDS DAY - this little movie that plays on Netflix starting on Valentine's Day, and YES, that is what I am on here today for - because I want people to know about it and give it a sampling, well, this is RIGHT IN THAT CATEGORY. It's an oddball. What's it like? Sort of Coen Brothers-ey, like a pulpy BEING THERE, comic, with everyone playing it straight, loony, but somehow grounded. A risk to try to get it right, but again, that risk is a big part of what attracts me
Hindsight is 20 /20
Hi Bob, thanks for taking the time to answer random internet questions - as an American transplant, I find Saul’s character incredibly accurate in its representation of the idiosyncrasies of U.S culture (Always hustling, doing morally grey things for purportedly right reasons - or maybe that’s just all humans?) It’s entertaining as hell, so thank you for doing what you do.
Girlfriend’s Day is coming out on Netflix tomorrow - compared to working with traditional studios, was the process of working with Netflix any different? Is there more creative freedom, is there less financial uncertainty?
You’ve been in entertainment for an incredibly long time (shout out to Mr. Show) - do you see your career split as before Saul/after Saul, or is it just another character for you in a long career?
Do you have any advice to give to young people, who may feel lost and unsure what to do with their life? (Totally not me..)
So basically this was you
THREE QUESTIONS... THREE ANSWERS, below... * Thanks for asking about GIRLFRIENDS DAY. I love this little movie the same way I love Mr. Show. I know that it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a cup of tea I will personally be sipping with joy for years to come. Netflix is the ONLY place that could host such a quirky endeavor and get it to the audience of smart and curious brains that will appreciate it. Plus it's only 65 minutes long, so...wouldn't really play in a traditional format. IT'S FUN, DARK, SERIOUS, FUNNY, RIDICULOUS, and I swear in it a bunch. * I don't see my career as being divided as clearly as it seems from the outside perhaps. I still write comedy and work on comedy projects. SAUL certainly has opened up doors for me in the drama world, and that's great and new, but it's all a big kitchen-sink mess of a career to me. I like it that way and I will say I am "blessed" although, according to Wikipedia, I am an "atheist". Who gets to decide that? * My advice to young people who are trying to find themselves is...keep trying. Make no mistake, outside of some patches of life that lucky people like me run into, everyone is, every day, trying to "find themselves". Maybe the dalai lama has it down, but everybody else is working on it, every day. But as a younger person take note that you can take more risks than an older person can - move to a fresh city - try something new and really commit to it - and then, also, I would add, try to dissemble your experiences smartly - try to notice what you contribute to a project or effort. You may want to be a comedy writer, but if you work on a project, find that you are a better director, or producer...if you can be honest about what your contribution actually was. I was surprised that I felt more impactful and connected in dramatic acting than my first love, comedy. But I am going to take that cue from life and pursue it now, see how far it goes.
lol, good meme, thank you.
What kind of boat would it have been?
George Meyer is one of the greats and a legend of comedy writing. He worked on The New Show, Letterman, SNL, and many years on The Simpsons. He is responsible for wonderfully funny sketches and great Simpsons episodes. He wrote "Big Red" for SNL (sooooo funny), and "Food Repair" for The New Show, and that scene where Joe Montana as a guy whose thoughts and what he tells people are exactly the same thing. Brilliant sketch on SNL. Although I have been in the same comedy writing room with him, I haven't exactly worked "with" him. Just admired his excellence from some proximity. OH, and ARMY MAN, let's not forget ARMY MAN...look it up
I wanted something that would go mostly unnoticed . I was looking at a small (40 ft. ) trawler
Favorite actor to work with? Actor you want to work with most in the future?
How do you feel about your actions 20 years later?
Would you have not done it altogether, looking back, or would you have done things differently to make sure you got away with it?
I hope to get to work with Jon Voight one day. I just like the guy. Loved working with Bruce Dern. Also wouldn't say no to sharing the screen with Nicholson, but what are the chances of that?
If I hadn't have done what I did, my life would be completely different now. The things that have happened in my life since then have led me to having a lovely wife that I wouldn't have met if I didn't move here after I got out which led to us having a wonderful child. That being said my actions years ago were from someone who was very different than I am now and while I think what I did was wrong, well, at this point it is what it is.
I'm a big fan, thank you so much for doing this AMA!
I'm really looking forward to watching Girlfriend's Day tomorrow! I watched the trailer this weekend, and I must say, I was shocked with the turn it took. So my question is how did you guys come up with the premise for this movie?
PS I'm counting down the days until Saul returns!:)
Honestly, you've accomplished a pipedream fantasy that many people hold. Embrace your success and failure both. I note you as being inspirational, not criminal. Hey, very few people have done what you have and that makes you absolutely an interesting man, not to say that other things don't, but you are elite.
I wrote this film with the two guys who originally thought it up; Eric Hoffman and Phil Zlotorynski. While I am proud of my writing contribution, the tone - very unique, came from them! They wrote something unlike pretty much anything I've ever seen. FUNNY AS HECK, but also with a murder and weirdness and even a sweetness mixed in. You may not like it the first time you see it. But it'll grow on ya. Be prepared for something special.
I humbly and honestly Thank you .
Did you have to claim the stolen money on your tax return that year? That might sound like a dumb question, but think about it... Once you were caught and everything was sorted out, there must have been a known amount of money in which the FBI, etc. determined that you had spent at that point. The spent money would have technically been untaxed income, so I'm just curious if the IRS or someone contacted you one day said "so yeah... we need you to pay taxes on the $_____ that you spent". Or did they not even bother and consider it lost currency? All my other questions were already answered :(
good question the short version is that it was all added onto my fines which add up to around 3.8 million .
Do you get royalties from the movie? That's kind of a roundabout way to get rich off of robbing an armored truck.
Nope, not a dime. That would be profiting from a crime which is a no no and I'm on the straight and narrow.
What was the dumbest thing you purchased with some of that $?
The 4 pairs of boots I bought in one day [shrug] what can I say they were nice and I was impulse shopping.
Actually my favorite thing with Zach in it is his show Baskets however Due Date was pretty hilarious.
So I haven't read your story or anything but what was your thought process going into the heist?
I planned backwards, where I wanted to go and then how much I would need to get there.
Did you help at all with the movie, directing, explaining how it went, etc? If so how was working with them?
I consulted on some of the props and sets in the movie, it was a joy working with Jared, Zach and the rest of the cast and crew.
I feel fine. I think he did a good job and is a really great guy.