Patrick Fabian, who plays Howard Hamlin on AMC’s Better Call Saul, discusses how Howard’s grief spirals out of control, his anger towards Jimmy, and his last gift to Chuck.
Q: Reflecting on the end of last season, where do you think Howard’s head was at coming into this season — before Chuck‘s death?
A: Howard and Chuck have always had a relationship of shared manners. They both viewed the world in the same way: They were scotch drinkers, they knew who was in power, there was a world they existed in. When he dips into his own account and his own personal money in order to rid himself of Chuck, it’s the equivalent of taking a sledgehammer to him. That means that what Chuck has done to Howard [hurt] him so deeply that he reacted. I think at the end of the season, there’s a thought in Howard’s brain of, “OK, that was bad. It was terrible. I was saving HHM, but after six months, maybe cooler heads will prevail.” But of course we never get that chance because of the events that occur. We open this season on the ramifications and finger pointing and who’s responsible.
Q: What do you think Howard’s first reaction was when he heard about Chuck’s demise?
A: I think immediately there’s a stab of guilt. What he says to Jimmy and Kim in Episode 1 is exactly what runs through his brain when that happens initially, but Howard Hamlin being Howard Hamlin, it merely gets pushed to the side because now there are things to be done. If indeed he’s dead, which I assume he is when I get the call, then I need to alert a certain chain of people. I need to get to Jimmy, all of these things have to be taken care of. I already know that I’m most likely his executor. I think Hamlin would go into work mode. Some people break down and they can’t do anything and they can’t eat. I think Hamlin would be the exact opposite. He would be responsible for things especially – and ironically – because Chuck would not be there to deal with these responsibilities. I think Howard would kick into care-taking mode as Howard knows how to.