If there is a silly word or phrase, Bob Odenkirk has probably said it and his daughter, Erin, has probably drawn it!
The father-daughter duo — along with Bob’s son and Erin’s brother Nate — are the proud writers of a book of original poetry called Zilot & Other Important Rhymes, which is filled with poems they wrote as a family, years ago. After revisiting the poems during the pandemic, they are now out for the world to read.
And if you’re wondering what exactly a “Zilot” is… it’s Odenkirk speak for a fort.
“Zilot is an indoor fort,” Erin says. “It’s the perfect name for this book because it’s a word that my brother invented back in the era when we were writing the original poems. He just came up with it out of the blue one day and it stuck in our household. We forever called that a zilot. We wanted to incorporate that sort of love for language and for invention and for writing your own stuff into and throughout this book.”
After being a successful Emmy-winning actor and producer, Bob is embracing his latest role — published author.
“I didn’t have a plan to enter the world of published poetry,” Bob said. “I just wanted to write a poetry book with my two kids, Nate and Erin. Then because we wrote all those poems when you were young, and I knew a few of them were pretty good, like almost perfect, I thought I should keep this around maybe we could turn it into a book.”
80 poems later, the Better Call Saul actor is pleased with how the family project turned out.
“I’m shocked that it turned out so well,” he quipped. “I’ll be honest with you, one of my biggest concerns was in the middle of all our work thinking, ‘Boy if this doesn’t sell, if nobody wants to publish this, it might make you feel terrible.'”
“But you coming to me and wanting to work on it with me, I think was enough validation,” Erin adds.
When it comes to Nate, who wasn’t around for any tea, he’s not jealous, as his dad and sister have his back when it comes to letting the world know how important his contribution is.
“Well not only did he help write a lot if not all of the poems from the original book, because he’s the really more silly sibling, he also helped write some of the finished versions that made it into the book,” Erin shares. “And he helped me with drawing ideas. And he helped me by being someone to vent to when I was annoyed at Dad.”
When it came to choosing Erin as the illustrator, Bob didn’t even give it a second thought.
“You’d been at it your whole life,” he says. “You love to draw and you’re gifted and you work hard. I was still knocked out by the degree of professionalism you showed and the degree to which you found a style that fits the poems and their spirit. That kind of tied the whole book together.”
The Odenkirks didn’t just put their family spirit on display inside the pages. In 2021, after suffering a near-fatal heart attack on the set of Better Call Saul, Bob says that his family was there for him every step of the way.
“You made a chart for me of what happened the last week,” he says of Erin’s aftercare. “Every day I woke up and I didn’t know what had happened to me or kind of almost what was happening, and Erin made a nice chart it was her version of the movie Momento, where I could look up and see, ‘you had a heart attack, these people visited, then you came to, you had the surgery.'”
Erin also made sure her father didn’t try to return to work before he was fully healed.
“Almost every morning you would wake up and try to get out of bed to go walk to set to finish shooting your scenes,” she quips. “That was a big part of the recovery was trying to get you to stay in the room and sleep and not go to work.”
Inside and outside of the pages, Erin and Bob are a team. According to Erin, the best (and maybe worst) part about working with her dad, is seeing two sides of him.
“The fact that I was also working with you like seeing you both as my parent and my collaborator was difficult,” she notes. “But in a way, also maybe the best part — To get that like respect and validation from a collaborator who I respected was very cool,” she says.
Zilot & Other Important Rhymes written by Bob, Erin, and Nate is out Oct. 10.