10 Questions With Patrick Fabian, Better Call Saul’s Hamlin And Penn Stater
If you haven’t started watching AMC’s “Better Call Saul” yet, well, first of all, what’s wrong with you? But second, you should start as soon as possible — if not for the show’s greatness, to see a Penn Stater in action.
Patrick Fabian is a Penn Stater from the Class of 1987 and New Cumberland native who plays Howard Hamlin on “Better Call Saul,” the “Breaking Bad” prequel that’s off to critical acclaim through three episodes. The show hasn’t revealed too much of Hamlin yet, but the show’s website should give you an idea of what kind of guy he is: “Sun-kissed and patrician, Howard Hamlin is one of life’s winners. Chuck’s law partner in the wildly successful firm Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, Howard’s good looks, charm and success are only part of the reason Jimmy can’t stand him.”
We were lucky enough to ask Fabian 10 questions about his days at Penn State and his role on the hit show.
Onward State: What brought you to Penn State?
Patrick Fabian: I fell in love with the campus on sight. And the Theatre Department professors I interviewed with really inspired me.
OS: How did the School of Theatre help mold your career?
PF: The professors there gave me a solid work ethic and appreciation for the craft of acting. They really instilled that persistance and hard work pay off.
OS: What’s your favorite story to tell about yourself from your Penn State days?
PF: Even though I was in the “Theatre Fraternity,” I thoroughly enjoyed the whole Penn State Experience, which for me meant hanging out with a wide variety of people. Gameday in the Fall was not to be missed. And if you haven’t had a sticky at the College Diner and walked up Old Main with the snow falling on you at 3:00 a.m., make it happen!!
OS: I am a huge “Breaking Bad” fan, so I tempered my expectations for “Better Call Saul” to avoid a letdown. But after two episodes, I’m addicted like millions of others. Did you expect the show to take off this quickly?
PF: We knew we had a lot of good will out there from BB and the braintrust behind BCS was careful to tell a really good story really well. I think BB fans were excited to “come home” to the feel of BB. But you never know, so we were thrilled with the response.
OS: What was the process that earned you a role in Better Call Saul, and why were you drawn to the show?
PF: I don’t know any actor who wouldn’t be drawn to work with Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. But, like any other job I’ve ever gotten, it all begins with having your agents get you in the door to read. From there, fate smiled on me.
OS: We don’t know too much about your character, Howard Hamlin, yet, but I think we can expect some tensity between him and Saul. Can you shed some light on how Howard develops and what role he plays in the first season?
PF: Well, no spoilers here, but you’re not wrong: Saul doesn’t like Howard very much. It’s kinda mutual…we’ll just have to see where it goes…….
OS: Characters who’ve starred opposite protagonists in the Breaking Bad universe were often hated by fans. Do you think Howard might suffer the same fate if he gets in Saul’s way?
PF: Well, I certainly don’t think Howard’s doing anything particularly wrong. We’ll see what the fans have to say.
(Also, I’d played my share of unlikeable guys!)
OS: You’ve spent most of your career in television, and now you’re working with many of the people who helped create what is one of the most critically acclaimed television shows ever. What’s it like to work with people like Vince Gilligan and Bob Odenkirk?
PF: Like playing with tennis pros, every game you play you hopefully get a little better because their game is so good. And couldn’t ask for a more amazing #1 than Bob, so talented and generous.
OS: You’ve guest starred in more television shows than I can list. What’s been your favorite undertaking to this point in your career?
PF: Favorite? That’s an impossible task because they all have their charms, truly, kissing Xena on “Xena,” teaching on “Veronica Mars” and “Saved By the Bell,” but playing the Exorcist in “The Last Exorcism” was terrific fun. And, of course, Howard Hamlin on BCS is pretty terrific, too!
OS: When it’s all said and done, will people speak of Better Call Saul with the same reverence as its predecessor?
PF: I hope so. Wouldn’t it be great if BCS ran 5 seasons and linked right up to BB?