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Better Call Saul’s Set Decorator On Knowing About That Midseason Finale Death Before The Actor Did

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Better Call Saul’s Set Decorator On Knowing About That Midseason Finale Death Before The Actor Did

Major spoilers for Better Call Saul’s latest episode, “Plan and Execution,” lie ahead, so read at your own risk.

If you’re a Better Call Saul fan like myself, then chances are you’re probably still reeling from the heartbreaking events of the midseason finale. The episode that closed out the first half of Season 6 was full of massive moments, and fans were subsequently left with a number of questions. Something that was incredibly clear coming out of the episode was the fate of Howard Hamlin, who sadly died at the hands of Lalo Salamanca. One would surely be quick to wonder how a performer approaches their character’s demise, though you also have to consider how much the crew is aware of beforehand. Well, interestingly enough, the show’s set decorator knew about the development even before series star Patrick Fabian did. 

Ashley Marsh has worked as a set decorator/buyer on Better Call Saul since the show’s debut in 2015, so she’s been around for all of the show’s major moments – including character deaths. Howard Hamlin’s may be the most tragic of them all and is honestly enough to make one want to stop watching the Breaking Bad prequel. Marsh was also sad to see Howard go in such brutal fashion, a sentiment that she expressed when we recently chatted. While revealing that she knew about the character’s fate before Patrick Fabian, she also explained whether that affected her and her team’s approach to crafting the sets that the late attorney inhabited:

I mean, yes. I probably knew before Patrick knew. Production called and said, ‘Hey, if you run into him, please don’t say anything.’ Of course, I won’t because we signed an NDA. But I am not sure how long they waited to let him know, because it changes you in your head. And that changes for me because I feel like things have to be a little bit more thought out. Because you don’t want to put anything in there that seems hopeful… but you don’t want to lead it on, either.

That’s a tricky tightrope to walk, to say the least. On the one hand, you don’t want the character’s surroundings to be too cheery, as to suggest that things are going to be fine. However, you also don’t want to lean too much into a sense of dread as to make the lawyer’s fate obvious to viewers. But ultimately, Ashley Marsh and her collaborators succeeded, because I’m not sure how many people could’ve foreseen what was in store for Howard from the jump.

Before Howard’s death, fans were able to see him in some locations that were pretty personal to him. One of those places was the Hamlin estate, which viewers only got a glimpse at from the outside in Season 5. While he was in his swanky pad, it was revealed that he’d been living in the guest house due to marital problems. Throughout the season, audiences also got to see him in his office, where he mainly met with his private investigator. There was a lack of warmth in both locations, and that was especially true for the cold-feeling Hamlin residence. Nevertheless, there were never any dead giveaways that suggested that the bane of Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler’s existence was headed out the door.

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So far, the final season of Better Call Saul has featured two massive casualties. Aside from Howard Hamlin, Michael Mando’s Ignacio “Nacho” Varga also bit the bullet. Well, more specifically (and tragically), he took a self-inflicted bullet to the head after revealing to Hector Salamanca that he caused his stroke. Like Howard’s death, it was a sad moment, though one that Mando acted out in such a masterful way.

There’s a firm chance that the critically acclaimed drama isn’t done picking off characters. Given the Breaking Bad timeline, we know that a few won’t be dying (yet), but a few others could still meet gruesome ends. I’m most worried about Kim Wexler, as was series co-creator Peter Gould. At this point, fans may want to take Ashley Marsh’s comments on Howard into consideration and look for set clues to gauge whether their favorite characters will make it out alive. 

Better Call Saul Season 6’s second half will begin airing on AMC on July 11th at 9 p.m. ET on AMC as part of the 2022 TV schedule. Those who need to catch up before seeing the final season can stream the others with a Netflix subscription.

Interviews

Quentin Tarantino Reveals His Pick For ‘The Greatest Movie Ever Made’

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Quentin Tarantino Reveals His Pick For ‘The Greatest Movie Ever Made’

It may not feel like it sometimes, but any upcoming movie has the chance to be named “the greatest movie ever made” by someone out there. However, that honor does have some specific caveats if you’re someone like filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. Not only has the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood director chosen a Steven Spielberg classic for that very distinction, Tarantino also explained just why that title is very specific. 

In an upcoming interview with our in-house podcast ReelBlend, Quentin Tarantino made his fourth appearance to talk about all things movies; the first since the big live show at the New Beverly Cinema. Promoting his new co-hosting gig on The Video Archives Podcast, Tarantino had yet another spirited discussion about cinema, which led to his pick of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws as  the greatest “movie” ever made. That distinction is important, as the Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood director made that perfectly clear through the following remarks: 

I think Jaws is the greatest movie ever made. Maybe not the greatest film. But it’s the greatest movie ever made. And then there are other movies that can get in its rarefied air. But as far as a movie, there’s no making it better than Jaws. There’s no ‘better’ than Jaws. It is the best movie ever made. And it shows how badly timed most movies made before Jaws were.

Leave it to Quentin Tarantino to separate his tastes in movies into those two separate, important camps: “movies” and “films.” In this case, the designation of a movie almost sounds like it’s shorthand for the blockbuster opuses that Steven Spielberg made a name for himself with. Which means that “films” are presumably more of the independent/art house titles that have higher pedigrees, and usually end up on the lists of best picture nominees every year.

Strangely enough, Jaws is one of six horror movies to have Best Picture nominations, so the line could blur just a bit in that respect. Putting aside the “movies” versus “films” debate, Quentin Tarantino isn’t using that separation to be a snob. Later on in the conversation, he explained how spectacles such as this are their own form of art, and how Steven Spielberg came to be someone who perfected it: 

What I meant by that, to one degree or another, is that Spielberg and a lot of his cohorts grew up seeing those kinds of movies in the theater. Henry Levin’s Journey to Center of the Earth, he’s gonna run to go and see that. Richard Fleischer’s Fantastic Voyage. He’s going to run and go see it. Gordon Douglas’s Them! He’s going to run and go see. Now… most of them weren’t directed that well. They were assignments given to journeyman directors who did their best with them. That was how we were used to seeing comic book — that kind of movie experience. As opposed to a Spielberg, who was like, ‘No, this is exactly the kind of movie he likes. This is exactly the kind of movies he was put on earth to make. And he’s going to make it, within an inch of his life, as effective as it possibly can be. And, you know, Michael Anderson, isn’t putting that kind of work in Logan’s Run.

Spielberg, and “cohorts” like George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Copolla all latched onto genres that were pulpier entertainments in their childhood, only to make them into something new. Through films like Jaws, Star Wars, Taxi Driver, and The Godfather, we saw a generation of directors taking movies they loved and reviving them through their own personal lenses. Which is exactly what Quentin Tarantino would do when he stepped onto the scene with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction; and it’s also why he’s such a staunch supporter of the cinematic experience. 

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If this conversation boils down to anything, it’s game recognizing game. Much as Steven Spielberg idolized the movies that helped make Jaws, Quentin Tarantino has reverence for the bearded director and his dedication to making the movies that sparked his love of cinema. Though considering the history his collaborator Samuel L. Jackson has had with sharks, you have to wonder if this has already sparked any sort of humorous conversations between the two?

You’ll be able to watch, and listen, to Quentin Tarantino’s latest appearance on ReelBlend, as it’s set to hit YouTube tomorrow. Meanwhile, Tarantino may not have his tenth and final film in the works just yet, but you can still enjoy the man’s gift for words in two very cool ways. 

Tarantino’s Video Archives podcast, which he co-hosts with friend and collaborator Roger Avery, is currently streaming wherever you find fine listening material. However, if you also want to read the man’s thoughts on ‘70s filmmaking in his upcoming book Cinema Speculation, which you can currently preorder on Amazon (opens in new tab); or any other fine bookseller.

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‘Prey’ Interviews With Amber Midthunder, Dan Trachtenberg And More!

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The stars of “Prey,” Amber Midthunder (“Naru”), Dakota Bevers (“Taabe”), Dane DiLiegro (“The Predator”), director Dan Trachtenberg and producer Jhane Myers discuss their new “Predator” movie in this interview with CinemaBlend at San Diego Comic-Con 2022. They discuss the “Prey” audition moment that landed Amber Midthunder her role and more!

You can stream “Prey” on Hulu on August 5.

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ | Marvel Comic-Con Interviews with Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan & More

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ | Marvel Comic-Con Interviews with Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan & More

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” stars Chris Pratt (Peter Quill / Star-Lord), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Will Poulter (Adam Warlock), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Sean Gunn (Kraglin / On-Set Rocket), Chukwudi Iwuji (The High Evolutionary) and writer Director James Gunn discuss their upcoming Marvel film and conclusion of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy in this post-Hall H interview with CinemaBlend at San Diego Comic-Con 2022.

Video Chapters

  • 00:00 – Chris Pratt on Finding “Your Side”
  • 00:35 – Chris Pratt Teases What’s Ahead For Star-Lord and Gamora In GOTG 3
  • 01:24 – Karen Gillan LOVES ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Fan Reactions
  • 02:00 – Karen Gillan Weighs In On Nebula Unaliving Nebula in ‘Endgame’
  • 02:32 – James Gunn Teases a “Darker” ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Movie
  • 03:20 – Sean Gunn on Baby Rocket’s Difficult Backstory
  • 04:30 –  Pom Klementieff on Welcoming New Marvel Actors to the ‘Guardians’ Family
  • 05:15 – Pom Klementieff Teases A More Badass Mantis In ‘Guardians 3’
  • 05:35 – Will Poulter Teases Adam Warlock Origins in ‘GOTG 3’ 
  • 06:32 – Chukwudi Iwuji on The High Evolutionary and His Motivations
  • 07:20 – Chukwudi Iwugi Praises James Gunn’s Dialogue
  • 08:15 – Chris Pratt Recalls His Last Day of Filming the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Trilogy
  • 08:55 – James Gunn Is Literally Always Writing and Rewriting Scripts
  • 09:49 – Will Poulter Wants to Play Adam Warlock Again “If Marvel Will Have Me”

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