Bob Odenkirk is so synonymous with the title character on AMC’s “Better Call Saul” these days, that it’s almost jarring to see him in another capacity.
Yet there he is, that familiar Midwestern twang and all, in “Girlfriend’s Day,” a movie launching Tuesday on Netflix that he also co-wrote, as a greeting card writer named Ray who dreams of past literary glories and gets swept up in a noir plot surrounding the advent of the eponymous new holiday.
“It’s real, everyone knows that it’s real, but nobody actually knows where it is or who does it or how it works,” Odenkirk says of the greeting card industry.
“It’s got a mystery aura around it, you know,” he adds. “Have you ever met anyone who writes greeting cards? Somebody, somewhere does it. There’s a lot of them.”
It’s a script Odenkirk has had on his mind since the end of his beloved sketch comedy series “Mr. Show with Bob and David,” when a writer on the show named Eric Hoffman gave an initial draft to him as they were wrapping production in 1998. And it molds disparate tones and modes of storytelling — from high-concept comedy to sincere personal drama — in a unique fashion that ensured, as Odenkirk observes, “I could work on this for the rest of my life, and I knew no one would already make it.”
The 54-year-old found a director in Michael Stephenson, best known for acting in the cult classic “Troll 2” and directing the documentary “Best Worst Movie” about it, whose approach speaks to the overarching appeal of making a serious movie that’s simultaneously completely ridiculous.
“He treated it like a true story that needed to be told,” Odenkirk says of Stephenson, “It was neither of those things. [laughs] It was not a true story, and it does not need to be told.”
Odenkirk amassed an illustrious career in the comedy world long before Vince Gilligan and “Breaking Bad” came calling with Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill, with accomplishments ranging from “Mr. Show” to writing stints on everything from “Saturday Night Live” to “The Ben Stiller Show,” and bringing attention to Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim in their early days.
Nonetheless, “Bad” and especially “Saul” have drastically enhanced his prominence in the business and, with it, the ability to more easily make the projects that interest him. Odenkirk says he gave the “Girlfriend’s Day” script to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos before the service had even made a single feature film, and that “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad” undoubtedly made it easier to get it done. He’s set to star as the late journalist David Carr in an AMC miniseries adaptation of his memoir “The Night of the Gun,” as well.
But he’s most busy, of course, starring on “Better Call Saul,” earning critical acclaim and Emmy nominations in the process. Season 3, complete with the return of Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring, premieres on April 10.