'Better Call Saul' Postmortem: A 'Breaking Bad' Alum Talks About His Surprise Entry Into Mike's Life

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Warning: Storyline and character spoilers ahead for the “Rebecca” episode of Better Call Saul.

Didn’t see that one coming! Though we’ve already “met” Tuco and Tuco’s abuelita on Better Call Saul, it was still a surprise when Hector Salamanca — Tio Salamanca! — the man whose feuds with Walter White and Gus Fring led to one of the greatest moments in Breaking Bad history, slid into a Loyola’s Diner booth with Mike Ehrmantraut.

Tio had a request, sorta, for Mike, and while Mike neither agreed to nor turned down his proposal, their scene promised much more to come between Misters Ehrmantraut and Salamanca. Yahoo TV talked to Emmy-nominated Tio portrayer Mark Margolis about coming back to play a healthier, more dangerous Tio; how he and Emmy nominated co-star Jonathan Banks had never met before, despite being long-time mutual fans of each other; and about whether or not we’ll see Tio again on Saul.

Related: Catch Up on ‘Better Call Saul’ With Our Recaps

Oh, and Margolis also shares a great story about a surprise encounter with another Breaking Bad alum…

What was it like being thrown back into this universe?
I thought it was lovely to be brought back into it. I had no idea whether they were, or were not going to. People were always asking me, “Are they going to bring you back?” I said, “I have no idea, because Vince Gilligan works in mysterious ways… it’s almost Biblical.” It was wonderful to be told that they wanted to bring me back on. I thought they had raised their standards. Apparently they didn’t, and they came and got me.

Is it fun to play Hector, but at a completely different point?
For sure, it’s a whole other kind of a thing. Also, he’s now functional physically. He has a little bit of vibrancy, life-force, muscle, whatever. Yeah, it’s kind of neat to be able to move around as Hector Salamanca before he becomes this creature that can hardly function.


He’s in charge here. He definitely has the attitude of being in charge.
Yeah, yeah. It’s my thing. I’m the jefe, as they say.

Was this your first scene with Jonathan Banks? I can’t remember Tio and Mike sharing a scene on Breaking Bad.
I was on Breaking Bad for three seasons, on and off… I never even met Jonathan Banks just walking across the set. We were never in the studio at the same time. I never, ever met him. It was thrilling to meet Jonathan. I happen to be a big fan of Jonathon’s. He’s an actor that really turns me on when I see his work. It was almost frightening to know that I was going to be in something with him. He’s quite formidable.

The two of you together, that really is a powerhouse scene.
Hopefully, if my end held up. I don’t know.

Related: ‘Better Call Saul’ Showrunner Peter Gould Talks Jimmy and Kim’s Future, Chuck’s Backstory, and All About That Cobbler

It did, beautifully.
My son said to me, my son’s a joker, knows a lot about acting, was an actor for quite a while, quite brilliant, but went off to something that he made a lot of money in. He said to me, “Try to get it together so that Jonathan Banks doesn’t blow you away.” There was some truth in what he said, because I’m always a little bit shaky about everything.

It’s an incredible scene. You both blow each other away. And I think it’s a very controlled scene on both of your parts. It seems like Hector is going there to ask for a favor, but he’s not really asking. He’s more telling Mike what’s going to happen?
This is probably why they are changing the name of this show to Better Call Mike and Tio. I knew there was a reason.


That’s the next spinoff. How did you two prepare for this scene?
We didn’t. We never met before [filming it]. When I came into that, you’ve seen the scene, when I came to the table… somebody may have said just before we began, when I came to the set, they said, “Jonathan, this is Mark.” He said, “I’m a big fan of yours.” I said, “I’m a much bigger fan of yours.” We shook hands. That was it. Then we had like one, or two, rehearsals of the scene, and then we did it. There was no… it’s not like we spent days, or weeks, preparing for it, at all. In fact, that may be good, because in the reality of the scene these two guys have never met before.

What did you want to accomplish with this scene? What did you want to establish with Hector?
I wanted to go about it in kind of a pleasant way, without making demands on [Mike]. I wanted to be a reasonable guy who’s got a family problem that I’d like to solve without a lot of involvement with authority figures, and stuff like that. I wanted to make it so that it wasn’t any big deal for this guy to do this for me, though he seemed to find it somewhat offensive.

Related: Better Call Rhea! See Rhea Seehorn’s Pics From the ‘Better Call Saul’ Set

Tio also lets Mike know that he’s done some research, and knows about Mike’s cop background.
Yes, that’s the one stick in it, sticking it to him, letting him know that I know a lot more about him than he would think the average guy would know, in a very light and easy way. It’s basically trying to get what you want in a nice and easy way, and then if you don’t get what you want in a nice and easy way, the next time you might go at it in a tougher way. If there is a next time, which there might be.

We kind of get that hint, right? I know you probably can’t say much, or even anything at all …
I was surprised I was even allowed to say that I might be on it. I’m sworn to secrecy.

Are you surprised at how enduring the love for Breaking Bad, and characters like Tio, is? There’s a Tio website that’s nothing but a bell.
Somebody once showed it to me. I don’t know. I had a period this summer where I would get stopped 150 times a day. People take a picture, “You’re Hector. You’re Tio, Hector Salamanca.” Last summer I was in Los Angeles, in Studio City, and I went to an Italian restaurant on Ventura Boulevard. I sat out on the terrace. It was a beautiful, warm day. After we had dinner and some drinks, we were there for a while, I went inside the restaurant to use the men’s room. When I came out of the men’s room, the manager of the restaurant… the room inside was very dark. Even though it was light outside, inside was very dark. The manager said, “There’s a guy in the corner that wants to say hello to you. Would you say hello to him?” I said, “OK.” I started walking to the corner with the manager, and this guy starts yelling at me, “You’re Tio Salamanca! You’re Tio Salamanca.” I said, “No, I’m not. I’m Mark Margolis.” The guy jumped up from his table, and walked quickly toward me, and grabbed me, and said, “You are Tio Salamanca.” It was Bryan Cranston, who happened to be in the restaurant with his wife and another couple. I had no idea. [I thought] it was another one of those guys just sayin, “Oh, you’re Tio Salamanca.” I kept on saying, “No, I’m not. I just play him,” but it was Walter White.

Did you say that to him, “You’re Walter White”?
No, but I accidentally said something to him about either having come back, or going out to do Saul. When I mentioned it to the people involved with Saul, they said, “You shouldn’t have told him. No one’s supposed to know!” I thought, “My God, what kind of a secret is this? This is such a secret that even Bryan Cranston can’t know?” After that, I never said anything to anyone, ever again.

Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on AMC.