'Better Call Saul' Season 5: How the Show Brought Back Ed and Paid Tribute to Robert Forster

Though Robert Forster only appeared in one episode of Breaking Bad as Ed the Disappearer, the vacuum salesman with a side hustle giving criminals new identities, the character is still a fan favorite, especially after he reappeared when Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) was looking for a new life in Netflix's El Camino.

Though Forster, the Oscar-nominated star of Jackie Brown, Olympus Has Fallen and Twin Peaks: The Return, died in October 2019 from brain cancer, he was able to film one last scene as Ed. That scene appeared in the premiere of Better Call Saul Season 5, streaming now on the AMC website in the U.S. and on Netflix internationally.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Better Call Saul co-creator Peter Gould said: "I was lucky enough to write and direct his one appearance on Breaking Bad. It's hard to believe, but he was only in one episode. I had such a great time with him. We'd been looking for an opportunity to have him back on Better Call Saul.

"And then Vince [Gilligan, Breaking Bad creator] wrote him into El Camino, which was great. Those things probably happened almost simultaneously... But the truth is, when I wrote the first draft of the season opener, I didn't think we would see him. I thought it would be too big a deal for us to reconstruct that vacuum-cleaner shop and to fly Robert to Albuquerque for just one side of a phone call."

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Gould explained: "But then while they were shooting El Camino, Melissa Bernstein, our brilliant producer, called me up and said, 'How would you like to see him instead of just hearing him?' And I said, 'Hell, yes!' Vince agreed to shoot Robert's half of the phone call during the El Camino shoot, and El Camino was shot long before we started shooting this season of Better Call Saul. Robert was on board, so [laughs] I quickly rewrote the script to show his side of the conversation."

better call saul robert forster
Robert Forster appeared in "El Camino" before his appearance in "Better Call Saul" Netflix

This meant that Forster likely filmed these scenes in late 2018 or early 2019, when El Camino was shot in secret in New Mexico and Arizona. Little did the Better Call Saul team know, however, that his appearance would be his penultimate TV credit. (Forster is due to appear in an episode of Apple TV+'s Amazing Stories reboot, airing in March 2020.)

Gould said: "It was fun to have that half of the phone call done. But now looking back on it, it's so much more meaningful to have one last look at Robert in our world. We had the screening of the premiere episode, and there were nine members of his family who came, and it was just so wonderful to see them. And, you know, we miss him... And, of course, it's completely organic because we had no idea it was going to be our last chance."

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In the interview, Gould also said that he had a great idea for a subplot involving Forster that he will now never get to use. He said: "I was always interested to see exactly how Robert's character placed Gene into this Cinnabon world... And I thought there could be some really fun, interesting scenes of Robert showing him the world that he's created for Gene Takovic."

Gould is not the only person from the Breaking Bad universe to have paid tribute to Forster. At the time of his death, Walter White actor Bryan Cranston wrote on Twitter: "I'm saddened by the news that Robert Forster has passed away. A lovely man and a consummate actor. I met him on the movie Alligator 40 years ago, and then again on BB. I never forgot how kind and generous he was to a young kid just starting out in Hollywood. RIP Bob."

Better Call Saul Season 5, Episodes 1 and 2 are streaming on AMC now.

Correction 5/3/20, 5:07 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to correctly state that the co-creator of Better Call Saul is Peter Gould, not Robert Gould.

'Better Call Saul' Season 5: How the Show Brought Back Ed and Paid Tribute to Robert Forster | Culture