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Actor Bob Odenkirk recovered from a life-threatening heart attack a couple of years ago. But many around him were surprised by his behavior after his recovery.

How Bob Odenkirk acted after his heart attack

Bob Odenkirk posing in a black suit at the Film Independent Live Read of Justine Triet's "Anatomy Of A Fall".
Bob Odenkirk | Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Odenkirk’s heart attack was a frightening moment for many who knew the star both professionally and personally. Fortunately, Odenkirk had medical staff nearby the time of the incident who were able to resuscitate him. But as grim as the whole ordeal was, Odenkirk asserted that he seemed the least affected by it after making a full recovery.

“During the actual event, it was like I wasn’t mentally there,” Odenkirk recalled in an interview with The Independent. “Even weeks later when I returned to set, it was an emotional moment, but I was a little bit excluded from it. I don’t know if it’s a defence mechanism, but my brain really compartmentalized the experience. It really shoved that thing far away.”

The Mr. Show star added that it was only after a certain amount of time passed that the implications of the heart attack really dawned on him.

“I had a strangely upbeat energy in the time after the heart attack,” he said. “I was chipper, and clueless about the enormity of what had happened to me, and what other people had felt being around it. It was only over time that what happened slowly sank in. My brain was completely hiding this thing from me. It was trying to make it disappear – and it did.”

Even his friends felt Odenkirk’s attitude after his near-death-experience was odd.

“People around me looked at me funny, like ‘You know you had a heart attack, right?’ I had this smile on my face, like ‘What are we doing next!’ But they were like, ‘No, it was really bad.’ It was a weird thing,” he said.

How Bob Odenkirk felt after he processed the ordeal

Odenkirk had a new perspective on life after the experience. Being so close to death made the Breaking Bad actor slow down a bit to enjoy the things that life had to offer.

“I feel kind of great. Like a blank slate, but in a good way. I feel like I’ve cleaned my palate,” Odenkirk said. “It’s made me think about how you spend the time you have, and the bottom line is, I don’t want my days to be as packed. I want to be able to enjoy the good things in my life, and I want to enjoy the problems, too. When you’re racing around trying to fix things, you don’t enjoy anything. That’s been my life for a little while. I’m trying to cut back on it – and I’m doing a good job. I’m really trying to get some space in my life.”

Bob Odenkirk had his heart attack on the set of ‘Better Call Saul’


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Odenkirk was already on the set of Better Call Saul shooting a scene when the heart attack happened. He was in a very pivotal moment during the show when cast and crew watched the actor suddenly lose consciousness. Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan was one of the many on set during the incident.

“We watched him die. I’d never seen anything like it, except for in a movie,” Gilligan once said on the Better Call Saul insider podcast. “When we got back on set with Bob, it was just happiness, it was just thankfulness, it was just gratitude.”

Odenkirk’s Saul co-star Rhea Seehorn was as devastated by Odenkirk’s heart attack, as she was relieved when he returned on set.

“It’s like one of the worst days of my life was followed by one of the best days of my entire life — that he was fine, that he was okay,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “But at the same time, he and I care so deeply about and respect the work that we need to do so much. He came back really feeling like he didn’t want to hold the crew back anymore. We’d been shooting for almost a year and it was important to him to [say], ‘Let’s do the work, and let’s kind of take a break from the overwhelming feeling of what just happened.’ It wasn’t about ignoring it. It was actually lovely to just get back to doing Kim and Jimmy — and back to something that he and I both love working on.”