Adorned by fans of the Breaking Bad series, we caught up with Jeremiah Bitsui about reprising his role as Victor in Better Call Saul. Now in it’ 6 season, the actor recalls how the character Victor is himself a distillation of character study from individuals he knew from the streets of Arizona and New Mexico. Militant, calculating, smart enough to run his own crew but too volatile to be completely on his own (Victor’s fatal flaw, the actor goes onto point out).
Jeremiah explains how his involvement with High Bridge Productions, was one of fortune. Having wrapped a production up in New Mexico, an audition came up in the show [Better Call Saul] for Los Pollos Hermanos Manager, which as it happens later evolved into the character Cynthia.
“Obviously, I was not the right fit for the direction the director (Adam Bernstein) had in mind. I now joke with him that he was glazed over until I came back to read for Non-Descript Customer which became Victor. Feels amazing to reprise my role in Better Call Saul, it’s family, so it’s like home”.
For Jeremiah, the greatest learning experience has come from the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe. Looking back at his formal drama training and technical film acting training, he recalls how he was able to marry the methods together in relation to the method of physical actions. Although he does admit that shooting SNL spoofs on his parents’ camcorder definitely played its part.
The actor’s latest series sees him take on Hoski Tso in the thriller Dark Winds. His character, a warrior with a misled cause. With a backstory of an abused past during his time in a Catholic boarding school. In addition to being a Vietnam veteran with untreated PTSD and unsurmountable trauma. What follows is a story rich in American Indian cultural references, about his need to protect his land and his people. Brought forward into the 21st Century.
Jeremiah highlights how every actor he knows, appreciates a fellow actor, who comes prepared with a good attitude. Levity and a sense of humor are bonuses, he explains. “It’s tough being an actor, there’s no handbook, I try to learn from everyone. As a fan there are many, many great shows; it’s a blessing to be part of the golden age of TV”. (in reference to Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro). The actor points to his preference towards playing flawed characters who are in some way seeking redemption.
Working through the scrutiny
Scrutiny comes with any work widely received, the actor explains. Highlighting how most people go to work and sit behind a desk and are only critiqued by a few. Where as with film/TV actors, their work is seen by millions being projected onto 50-foot (15 meters) screens, TV broadcasts, and now streaming to phones and smart devices.
The main challenges in the acting profession, he explains, comes from both a personal, professional, and craft-related front. From a personal perspective, the hours can be hard on the family, along with maintaining a healthy and balanced life (fitness, diet, mental breaks, hobbies, etc). Professionally: the pace on smaller budget projects can be harsh in terms of weather conditions, late and early hours. Finally, the craft-related challenges are set depending on each project. For Dark Winds, Jeremiah explains that it was toning down the internal turmoil within his character to bring out someone who was patient and methodical.
The Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul’s actor’s love for acting comes from being willing to take risks and allow your ego to take the plunge. “As an actor you have the benefit of living different lives, playing different professions, etc”, he explains. Jeremiah goes onto highlight how the key is to commit to the dream that keeps you up at night while becoming a master of your trade. To not spend too much time in indifference and uncertainty. Instead to go after that unattainable goal that keeps you up at night! Whilst retaining an element of humility that no matter how much you may think you know, there is always more to learn!#watchthisspace