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Michael McKean recalls how Cranston advised him to take 'Better Call Saul' role

Season 3 of the "Breaking Bad" prequel starts Monday night on AMC.

By Karen Butler
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Michael McKean recalls how Cranston advised him to take 'Better Call Saul' role
Michael McKean arrives for the 10th Anniversary of the TV Land Awards at the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York on April 14, 2012. The actor's AMC series "Better Call Saul" starts its third season Monday night. File Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/UPI | License Photo

April 10 (UPI) -- Michael McKean says he got the offer to star in the Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul while he was working with the original show's star Bryan Cranston in the stage play All the Way.

"I was drawn to the part because [show creators] Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould asked me to do it," McKean told UPI in a recent phone interview.

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"I was already a Breaking Bad fan. I knew Vince from years ago on The X-Files, so, of course, I was going to do it. [Breaking Bad] was one of the most highly regarded TV series of all time and it was just ending when I was working with Bryan Cranston in Cambridge, Mass. We did All the Way where he played Lyndon B. Johnson. We did that in Cambridge and then later in New York and, when we were doing it in New York, that's when the Better Call Saul... the news about that show following Breaking Bad came up and Bryan was actually the one who kind of told me about it. He said, 'You know, they're going to call you and you should really do it.' And even without him saying that, I would have done it anyway."

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The series follows Bob Odenkirk's struggling, New Mexico lawyer Jimmy McGill, who has a strained and complicated relationship with his brilliant, older brother Chuck, played by McKean.

"We tried to create a real pair of brothers -- a real sibling rivalry that wasn't a cliché, that was complex and was about parental acceptance. It was about individual ambition," the 69-year-old explained. "It was about jealousy and it was about barely sublimated rage and when you get a couple of lawyers dealing with family trouble, they invariably get into their profession. They get elbow-deep in the kind of open-air hostility that it's not just casual anymore. It's not just every Thanksgiving we have this argument. It's every, single day is about deflect and attack and parry and thrust."

Co-starring Jonathan Banks, Mark Margolis and Rhea Seehorn, Season 3 of Better Call Saul starts Monday night on AMC.

Breaking Bad, featuring Cranston as chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White, ran for five seasons 2008-13. Odenkirk played White's lawyer.

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