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Better Call Saul Star Michael Mando dissects emotional episode of Ignacio – The Hollywood Reporter

[The following story contains major spoilers for Better Call Saul episode, “Rock and Hard Place.”]

“No, not me! It’s Ignacio! He is one! ”

Thirteen years ago, Break Viewers first hear the name Ignacio when Saul Goodman blames him for what he probably did to Lalo. Well, on tonight’s tragic episode of Better to call Saulfans finally know how the story of Ignacio (Michael Mando) ends.

In the closing moments of the Gordon Smith-directed episode of “Rock and Hard Place,” Ignacio “Nacho” Varga sacrifices his life for his father’s (Juan Carlos Cantu’s) life, and is like the rest of the world. In the episode’s title, Ignacio actually finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

If he was captured by the Salamancas, he would be tortured until he declared that Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) was responsible for the attack on Lalo Salamanca’s (Tony Dalton) compound. In season four, Gus’ heavily armed Ignacio becomes a double agent, and ever since, he’s helped him sabotage the Salamancas drug trade and Don Eladio’s (Steven Bauer) gang. . So, naturally, Gus also wants Ignacio dead to protect his own long plot of revenge against the men responsible for killing his beloved partner, Max (James Martinez), in the epilogue. think part four about Break.

In the end, Ignacio reached a deal with Gus that cost him his life to protect his father, however, instead of being shot in the back by Gus’ henchman Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui) in a against Salamancas, Ignacio was free for long. enough to grab Juan Bolsa’s (Javier Grajeda) weapon, say goodbye, and take his own life.

“In the image of the character, that is the most honest thing to do. It is extremely tragic. It’s Shakespearean, but that’s what makes the character iconic. He lived and died for true love. It makes me shiver just thinking about it,” Mando said The Hollywood Reporter.

During his final days on set, Mando was also moved by Better to call Saul Crew tribute to the character. “They surprised me by wearing Nacho shirts, and everyone has these ripped tattoos. It was just very emotional for everyone. I knew this character meant a lot to them, but I didn’t know how much he meant to them until that point,” Mando shared.

In part two of one conversation with CHEAPMando also recounts all the “ominous” things happening that seem to want to extend his tenure on Break AMC prequel/sequel.

Ignacio had decided to go on his terms after being controlled by many monsters for so long. What did you do about his decision and his eventual breakup?

In the image of the character, that is the most honest thing to do. It looks like Romeo and Juliet. It is extremely tragic. It’s Shakespearean, but that’s what makes the character iconic. He lived and died for true love. It makes me shiver just thinking about it. He believed in purity and virtue, and he sacrificed his life despite being offered power, money, and influence. Denying it all and doing the right thing makes for a truly respectable character. And it’s done so brilliantly and honestly, so I think the screenwriters did a great job.

What stood out from your last days on set?

The episode is filled with these bigger-than-life moments. Right before the first day of shooting, I cut my finger. (Mando raised his scarred hand.) I can’t move my hand. I couldn’t feel any nerves shooting up from my left hand, so I had to wait a week before I could spin.

On the day we shot the desert content, first the camera of Gus and Salamancas. And just as we were about to turn the camera on me, out of nowhere, this huge sandstorm hit us. So we had to literally run back before our car sank into the sand. When I got home the next day, lightning struck the tree in front of my house and the tree fell across my entrance. So many ominous and bigger-than-life things happened that made it so special for me and the crew.

They surprised me by wearing Nacho shirts, and everyone has these ripped tattoos. It was just very emotional for everyone. I knew this character meant a lot to them, but I didn’t know how much he meant to them up until that point. So the crew was right there with me, and it was a magical ride.

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Michael Mando as Nacho Varga in Better Call Saul
Greg Lewis / AMC / Sony Pictures Television

After years of biting his tongue, Ignacio finally told the Salamancas, like Gus, how he really felt about them. Do you offer a variety of flavors throughout the day? Or is each one pretty consistent?

When there is a camera, the way of shooting is very different. But since we had a day to think about it, I received a note from [writer-director] Gordon [Smith], and he asked me to play it completely differently by the time the camera came back to me. At first, I was a little resistant to the note, but eventually I understood. [Ignacio’s] hearts are being weighed in front of the audience. It’s strange because we know how everyone in that scene, without exception, was killed, and they were all there to witness. [Ignacio’s] death.

It is clear that he is entering his death, and the audience is also there to witness his death. It felt like he was on trial, and for me, that trial was “How deep is your father’s love?” That’s what I think he’s on trial for. “How pure is your heart when it comes to wanting to do what’s right?” For the first time, he wasn’t afraid of any of these people. He also puts his ego aside and is completely ready to tell the story that will save his father, no matter what others think. And finally, his gesture is very brave. No regrets, doubts or second guesses. Therefore, he really sacrificed himself wholeheartedly.

Did you expect an outcome like this in the first place?

When I first got into this part, I wanted to celebrate the New Mexican culture, and it was really important to me to play a character who wasn’t some stereotypical brown-skinned bad guy. And I remember wanting to go back to the history of the Aztecs and Mayans. And then I watched a documentary that didn’t portray them in the best light. They say they believe in human sacrifice. They would sacrifice humans to the gods for the rain, and that sounds very barbaric. And then I heard a Latin American historian tell the same story, but he left out a really important detail. The strongest men in the village compete in a sport that the whole community watches, and the winners are those who are willing to sacrifice themselves to let the gods send rain.

So their relationship to life, death, and the afterlife is very, very different from our Western understanding and fear of death. It’s not so much about whether you die or not, but about when you die and what you die for. So I thought it was unbelievably beautiful that the episode started with the rain falling on the purple flower that also symbolizes this enlightenment.

Some of my favorites Better to call Saul scenes involving Ignacio and Manuel Varga. Were you and Juan Carlos Cantu present together during that devastating last phone call?

I asked that no one was there for my call. I didn’t do that scene with Juan Carlos; Rich [Sickler], AD, read those lines in front of the camera for me. And he did the same thing for Gus and Mike’s phone call. Juan Carlos wanted me to be there to cover him, so I’m happy to be there and support him for that. I think Nacho’s character has been through so much, and no one really understands where he is. He also never really wanted his father to see the reality of what he was going through, so in that moment, I thought it would be ideal if Juan Carlos wasn’t there.

Well, thank you for being my favorite Saul character, Michael.

Honestly, your words made my day, and more than that, they made me so emotional. Character means a lot to me, and hearing you say that attests to all the sacrifice and effort and fills me with gratitude.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Better to call Saul Airs every Monday on AMC.

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