ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Professor Hank Landry. Gavin Prince. Jerry Kaufman. Professor Jeremiah Lasky.
These are some of the memorable characters that Patrick Fabian has played on the TV shows “Veronica Mars,” “Joan of Arcadia,” “Providence” and “Saved by the Bell: The College Years,” his most famous role.
Yet, with his latest character as Howard Hamlin on “Better Call Saul” Fabian says he’s moving into uncharted territory.
“When I got this job a friend of mine told me my tombstone wouldn’t read ‘I kissed Kelly Kapowski’ anymore,” he says with a laugh. “There are worse things it could say.”
Portraying Hamlin has challenged Fabian, a fact he enjoys.
On the show, Hamlin is the co-founder of Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill, and Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) can’t stand him. The series airs at 8 p.m. Mondays on AMC.
Fabian says Hamlin is one of the lucky ones.
“He’s in charge of a fairly well off white-collar firm,” he says. “He can own the town. Life is good. The country club tee times are good. He’s the type of person that always knows somebody no matter where he goes. For some people, it’s something to envy.”
In the show, Jimmy McGill’s brother, Charles McGill, is forced to leave his job at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill due to the sudden onset of electromagnetic hypersensivity.
Jimmy McGill and Hamlin don’t get along at all.
“Howard tolerates Jimmy because of his brother,” Fabian says. “Jimmy isn’t a threat of anything to him. Charles ‘Chuck’ McGill is a valuable asset. There’s one scene where Jimmy bursts into Howard’s conference room and Howard does nothing. That tells me a lot about how valuable Chuck is.”
Fabian says as the show moves forward, the amusement that Jimmy McGill brings is starting to affect Hamlin’s money.
“Jimmy begins to become a problem to Howard,” he says.
Fabian says he would go in and shoot his scenes and just watch the story unfold.
“You don’t get a chance to see it all get built,” he says. “I’m watching it live every week and I’m eating it up.”
Fabian says that after having been in the film and TV industry for so long, he put his expectations at the doorstep when he was cast in the show.
He says working with show creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould is amazing.
“The entire cast is great,” he says. “I get to read with these great people. I was excited to be at the party.”
Fabian admits that though he tried to not expect much, he knew what he was getting into.
“Better Call Saul” is a prequel to “Breaking Bad.” It follows Jimmy McGill as he transforms into slick lawyer Saul Goodman. It takes place six years before the start of “Breaking Bad” and is also set and filmed in Albuquerque.
“I was driving down on I-25 when I first got here and I saw the Crossroads Motel for the first time,” he says. “I almost ran off the road.”
In “Breaking Bad,” the Crossroads Motel was where the prostitute Wendy conducted business.
Fabian says as production for the series took place, he would become a fanboy.
“I took pictures of the hot dog stand (The Dog House),” he says. “The people I ran into are very proud of this show. Then it dawned on me that there’s an international standard that ‘Breaking Bad’ has created. Our show is very different and stands on its own and the fans are showing up for us too.”
Fabian is also no stranger to New Mexico. His father was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in the 1950s, when he was a motorcycle cop.
Fabian also had a few roles on the TV series “Crash” and “Longmire.”
While he was filming “Better Call Saul” he would go hiking up in the Sandia Mountains and the Petroglyph National Park.
“I rolled my eyes at first at the Petroglyphs,” he admits. “Then I walked through and it was so powerful and moving. Here I had this cellphone and it’s a modern device and doesn’t work. And then I look and there are these drawings that are literally thousands of years old. It’s that whole moment of us being so small.”
Fabian also had time to peruse Santa Fe and also attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
“My daughters were here and it was like magic land for them,” he says of the fiesta. “I’m not a runner and tried that once. They weren’t kidding about dehydration. I drank water all the time.”