An Interview with Jonathan Banks

Portrait of actor Jonathan Banks who played Mike in Breaking Bad

Life After Breaking Bad

by Karen Anne Overton

In heart-warming, family-drama Watercolor Postcards, actor Jonathan Banks shows his softer side as homely, small-town barkeep Ledball. The Breaking Bad star talks childhood, values and his joy at reprising the role of Mike for Better Call Saul

“I’ll give you an example of the way I was raised,” begins Jonathan Banks in his trademark, measured drawl. “I was raised by a single mother. If there was a flower that was trying to raise its head up through the sidewalk she always pointed it out to me. And I learnt from her to take joy from the simple things. Appreciate how lucky we are.”

As you would expect from a man who has been working in Hollywood for 48-years, Banks’s fame and hype are all in his stride. Unfortunately he has been unable to avoid the former since his turn as Mike in the modern day phenomenon that is Breaking Bad.

jonathan banks

“Try to be kind”

His new film Watercolor Postcards tells the story of a precocious young girl named Cotton. Following the death of her mother, Cotton comes to rely on her estranged sister and the local townsfolk for comfort and a sense of family. Among them is Banks’ character Ledball, the local bartender and general purveyor of wisdom. The film is written, produced and stars ex-NFL player turned actor Conrad Goode. Banks refers to him as one of his ‘dearest friends in the world’.

In a lot of his recent roles this sense of paternal wisdom has come through. For Cotton, Ledball becomes a grandfather figure. I ask if he applies his own experience as a father to his roles. Banks says: “I’m a father of four and I would imagine at this stage there is a lot of instinct in there. Just from the life lived that transfers itself. You know, you try to be kind. You try to be kind to a child.”

“Wildly lucky”

Breaking Bad has recently been inaugurated in Washington DC’s Smithsonian Museums. It’s an event which Banks considers to be a great honour: “We have the hazmat suits, some crystal meth and a whole display about Breaking Bad. The slang term, or the nickname, for the Smithsonian, which is magnificent, is ‘the nation’s attic’, so we’re in there with I Love Lucy. I’m just thrilled because I grew up in Washington.”

Next year will see Better Call Saul return for season two on Netflix. The show is a hit. It was up for for seven awards at this years Emmys, including Best Supporting Actor for Banks. It also gave Banks and co-star Bob Odenkirk a chance to tell the back story of their respective Breaking Bad characters – an opportunity he jumped at. “I wanted to go back and do Better Call Saul because Mike’s story had not been completely told. You get to go back and reveal how Mike lost his soul. See the terrible things that have happened to him. So I am thrilled to reprise that character.”

For Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad is a revival in a long and fascinating career. So how does he feel at still being offered roles that he loves? “I’m lucky. Wildly lucky.”

Watercolor Postcards is out now on DVD courtesy of Simply Media


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