Michael McKean is my name. A native NYer, I still live here part time, elsewise in LA. I act, write, sing, laugh; I dig old movies, music of every vintage and variety. You?


Great talking with y'all. Be good to each other. Watch BCS. Think kind thoughts about Chuck. xoxmjm

Twitter: @MJMcKean

Comments: 794 • Responses: 105  • Date: 

auto-d2977 karma

Is using the computer to reply to our comments giving you a headache?

MichaelMcKean1062 karma

Now that you mention it...

Reign_Wilson904 karma

Can we all just take a moment and agree that "Best in Show" is a masterpiece?

MichaelMcKean504 karma

It's a damn funny movie.

Francis-Hates-You690 karma

Why is The University of American Samoa is any less credible than other colleges?

MichaelMcKean1226 karma

No reason! Go Land Crabs!

FireHole418 karma

I know you'll be asked this but I want to just say it: "Any chance of a Spinal Tap reunion?"

MichaelMcKean520 karma


RunTheJewels3406 karma

Hi! Absolutely love Better Call Saul, looking forward to your S2 character development.

What was it like joining a crew that had already worked on BrBa for six years, with you joining it as a new cast member?

MichaelMcKean504 karma

Everyone is world class brilliant at their work and very nice to me.

smgulz394 karma

Your double episode arc on The X-Files was one of my all time favorites and I still bust out laughing at the scene where you two are dancing in the mirrors. What was it like to play a character who is playing another character? Would you be open to returning to The X-Files if Fox decides to do more episodes after tonight's finale?

MichaelMcKean249 karma

I think Morris Fletcher has hung up his black suit. It was a great fun shoot.

BanditMage332 karma

Hi Michael,

Another Clue fan(atic) here. (Seriously, I watch it at least once a month.) So there's a fan theory that Mr. Green's final line was meant as a red herring (haha) and he didn't actually have a wife. Do you think Mr. Green was truly "a homosexual" in all 3 endings?

Which ending is your favorite?

MichaelMcKean504 karma

I adlibbed the line, Jon Lynn liked it, it stayed. End of story. And movie.

sbowen3283 karma

Do you have any idea about Chuck's background beyond what maybe Jimmy and the others know? In other words, do you know more of the story in order to play Chuck?

MichaelMcKean533 karma

I do. You will, too, by the end of the second season. Some flashbacks, some anecdotal tales, all very revealing and a little bit concealing...

Gay4Moleman228 karma

How much more black could it be?

MichaelMcKean477 karma

None. None more black.

suaveitguy219 karma

How did you feel with the big reveal for your character in BCS season 1? It was a beautiful slow-burn bit of character development, and a jaw-dropping reveal when we find out what your character had been up to. How did it feel to read that reveal the first time? Did you use your knowledge of that to inform your performance in earlier episodes? I was completely surprised.

MichaelMcKean367 karma

I was delighted when Vince & Peter told me of this piece of the puzzle. It was very playable, and, from Chuck's POV, justifiable. Not pleasant, but the truth hurts. Sorry, Jimmy.

suaveitguy177 karma

What is it about a Norm Macdonald or Fred Willard? They sort of have a wavelength instead of a style/voice, and it works wonderfully. Can you put your finger on what sets them apart?

MichaelMcKean292 karma

I love Norm. it's a kind of baffled warmth, isn't it? Martin Mull once described Fred thusly: "He doesn't use his turn signal". 2 very funny men.

mracidglee164 karma

Who came up with Lenny's thing where he jams his hand into his mouth when a girl walks by?

MichaelMcKean233 karma

It was something a guy named Ronnie did in my high school days. The gesture is called a "ronnie".

CBLingo143 karma

Hey Michael,

Clue wasn't particularly well received upon initial release but has now (rightfully) become a comedy cult classic. Do you think there's a reason it has slowly grown in stature over the years and was there any inkling during filming that you were making a comedy far smarter and more ambitious than what was being made at the time?

MichaelMcKean180 karma

We loved making the film. Funniest bunch of people on Earth, great times. Its home vid life is very gratifying. Jon Lynn still doesn't understand why it didn't fly at first, or why it's his best loved film. Hmmm...

Purpose9132 karma

What does Bob Odenkirk smell like?

MichaelMcKean362 karma

Hot buttered soul.

BobZePenguin125 karma

Was there any pressure in having a big role in such an anticipated show?

MichaelMcKean295 karma

Just "be good" kind of pressure. You know, "don't suck".

dimplejuice119 karma

Who in particular did you model David St. Hubbins after? We need names, not "oh, he was a composite of so many pompous late 70s, early 80s rockers." Cheers.

MichaelMcKean243 karma

Hair: Peter Frampton. Clothes: Def Lepp Attitude: all mine.

lowglowjoe111 karma

What did you think of Albuquerque.did you eat anywhere local? If so what was your favourite

MichaelMcKean196 karma

I like ABQ. Just now discovering my fave places. One Italian restaurant in particular, can't remember the name. I'll ask Banks.

pretentiousfriend105 karma

How do you cut your sandwiches: down the middle or diagonally?

MichaelMcKean263 karma

Diagonally, thanks for asking.

Doc_TimWhatley100 karma

Hello Mr. McKean,

I adore The Folksmen! Your deadpan reactions to your bandmates are golden. Do you have any stories about what it's like to have The Folksmen opening for Spinal Tap or insights into the mind of Jerry Palter?

Thank you!

MichaelMcKean103 karma

We loved opening for ourselves when it was feasible; Jerry's a very tender soul, with a bit of envy for those who have more money. Which is everybody.

suaveitguy91 karma

Ever see a talented person's career derailed/end because they were a jerk?

MichaelMcKean181 karma

Not derailed, but certainly damaged. No names, please. Usually, it does no harm if they bring in enough business.

Ericovich90 karma

You've been in such wide ranging movies from Earth Girls are Easy to Best in Show to Coneheads and everything in between.

How do you pick what movies to take?

MichaelMcKean133 karma

I ask myself it is something I belong in. I'm pretty good at guessing. Also, ask who else is involved.

dimplejuice87 karma

Favorite Bowie song?

MichaelMcKean191 karma

Golden Years.

rmarsack75 karma

Who is your favorite person to improv with?

MichaelMcKean140 karma

Higgins, Guest, O'Hara, Coolidge, Willard...can't choose one...

MRV627975 karma

How many kimonos should one bring on a two-day trip?

MichaelMcKean153 karma

How many suitcases does one have?

neurocentricx73 karma

Hi, Mr. McKean! Huge fan.

You've worked with Christopher Guest on a few different movies. One of my favorites, hands down, is Best in Show. A lot of the same actors are also seen in these movies. How does that work? Are you all friends and Christopher just calls you all and says, "I'm writing another screenplay, you want in?" How did all of that begin?

MichaelMcKean105 karma

As CG puts it, just find the actors who can do this kind of work. And don't fire them.

pfelon71 karma

What would your thoughts be on a remake (or readaptation) of the movie Clue? Would you want to be involved if it happened?

MichaelMcKean202 karma

I think it would make a great stage musical.

pfelon69 karma

You're a very accomplished comedic actor, with work spanning from hit sitcoms to Saturday Night Live to box office hits and groundbreaking mockumentaries.

What was it like working with a robot in Short Circuit 2?

MichaelMcKean117 karma

Laborious. Loved the puppeteers making Johnny 5 move & speak, but had to Loop every line bc of robo noise.

ndmartinxyz68 karma

How is Trump winning the Republican race? Is this all just a joke on the American people?

MichaelMcKean211 karma

Don't get me started.

nylar459 karma

Hi Mr McKean, huge fan of all your work.

Really enjoying your role as Chuck in Better Call Saul, fantastic show with huge kudos and thank you to everyone involved.

My question for you is how much fun was it to play Morris Fletcher in The X-Files and to work again with Vince Gilligan?

MichaelMcKean78 karma

Great fun, even out in the desert all night long. Dave D and I worked hard on the mirror dance every day til we shot it. Great bunch of people on that show

the_trashheap53 karma

Hi there!

You've had such a long, varied career over so many years, what has been your favorite role to play?

MichaelMcKean122 karma

Probably David St. Hubbins, but Chuck is gaining on him.

artfufkin52 karma

Artie Fufkin - Polymer Records here.

What's your favorite joke in the Spinal Tap movie?

MichaelMcKean119 karma

The Stonehenge reveal. Or Howard Hesseman's "we have to go wait in the lobby for the limo"...

liamquane47 karma

What was it like working with Steven Spielberg?

MichaelMcKean74 karma

A lovely man who loves movies as much as anyone alive or dead.

rmarsack45 karma

Hi! Is there any chance HBO will give Family Tree a wrap up special? That was a great show. (Big fan of all your work!!)

MichaelMcKean66 karma

Thanks. No, I don't think the ratings were all that good. HBO does better with rougher comedies, and Chris' stuff is pretty gentle.

theflamingskull44 karma

How did you feel about working on Laverne and Shirley after they moved to California?

MichaelMcKean71 karma

Got a little watered down. Some of the shows were pretty good. Recently saw the Joey Heatherton ep. and it made me laugh.

liamquane42 karma

Do you have any advice on set control?

MichaelMcKean176 karma

Control your set.

thedavehughes41 karma

Michael, thanks for taking the time to do this AMA...
Question: how difficult was it to prepare for the Chuck character, and the disability portrayed? Did you have to study that disorder prior to filming?
Your acting is very convincing and had me thinking a lot, before we find out what it was.

MichaelMcKean99 karma

I studied what I could find on the internet. Went through the list of symptoms, tried to use them with respect, not commenting or ridiculing. Affliction is a tough one. Tried to get it right.

letmypidgeonsgo41 karma

Do you have any good memories from Radioland Murders to share?

MichaelMcKean68 karma

The movie refused to wrap. Bobcat decided to throw a wrap party anyway, so he hired TV cage dancers, piercers & tattoo artists. Good times. On the set? Some fun, but long hours. Goofy cast.

MavisJ35 karma

Mr. Green! A pleasure sir. What is your favorite memory from making Clue? (All time favorite movie)

MichaelMcKean64 karma

Lunch every day was a great thrill. Madeline, Eileen, Curry, Mull, just killed me.

Professor_Crab33 karma

What's your favorite voice over for an animated show that you've ever done?

MichaelMcKean123 karma

I played the Classic Joker in one Batman episode, giving the great Mark Hamill a rest. Also loved Pinky & Brain, Tiny Tunes, Dark Knight...

jms07e32 karma

How much do you think Chuck cares for Jimmy?

MichaelMcKean94 karma

Love is very complicated. So are brothers.

zappa32532 karma

What do you like to do when you're waiting for the next scene?

MichaelMcKean76 karma

Read books. Mostly fiction. Often crime stories. And shoot the shit with my pals.

babyhandedtheif31 karma

Do you watch The Walking Dead?

MichaelMcKean102 karma

Not my cup of tea. I like some of the actors. Until they are killed.

ndmartinxyz29 karma

Do you have a movie you regret doing? If so, why?

MichaelMcKean96 karma

Yes. It sucked.

liamquane28 karma

What is the best thing a director can do for you on set? :~)

MichaelMcKean56 karma

Keep it real. Keep it cool. Be patient and inspire patience in others.

loveshisbrews27 karma

Hi Michael, firstly THANK YOU for doing Better Call Saul. It's so awesome and I can't wait to binge watch season 2. You're one of the most convincing actors I've watched in a long time.

Do you know how many series they plan on making? Or will it largely depend on how S2 is received? Thanks.

MichaelMcKean62 karma

You got it. We hope to ride the good will and popularity into a third season. We love doing the show.

petite-acorn27 karma

What an honor to have you here! This Is Spinal Tap is a certified classic in pretty much every way. Could you share any stories about the making of the film that highlights the preparation involved in shooting the interview segments (with Mr. Reiner)? Specifically, what was the ratio of rehearsed vs. improv on those takes?

MichaelMcKean50 karma

We wrote a complete backstory, and Rob pulled stuff out of the hat on the day; we just went with it. Film 99% improv.

homo_swaggins27 karma

What is love?

MichaelMcKean123 karma

The ocean around us. Don't drown. Float.

creativeinfopro26 karma

Since Chuck was pretty isolated in season one, which character would you most like to see him share a scene whom he hasn't interacted with yet?

MichaelMcKean71 karma


ndmartinxyz26 karma

Why are you so mean to Saul?

MichaelMcKean81 karma

Depends on your POV. I'm doing the right thing, as far as Chuck is concerned.

ikilledthatsnowman25 karma

Hello Michael, so excited to see you on AMA. Did you always feel that acting would be your main gig, or did you consider playing music professionally? Your mix of the two has entertained me since I was a child.

MichaelMcKean43 karma

Did both from age 14 or so. Let the market decide, never had to sacrifice one for the other. Pro players, session musicians, have to work VERY hard at the craft, I'm more a gut player.

patrick_mc25 karma

Mr McKean,
Were you a fan of Breaking Bad, before you started working on Better Call Saul? Also, did you campaign for the role, or were you approached?
I can't imagine a better actor playing the role of Chuck! :)
Also, my friends are all HUGE Laverne and Shirley fans. So...Marry F&*$ Kill; Laverge, Shirley, Squiggy.

MichaelMcKean83 karma

HUGE fan of BB. Didn't campaign. They came to me with the idea, and I said, yes, duh. Last question too complex for my brain/libido.

tulo6423 karma

What current or past TV show would you have liked to be a part of?

MichaelMcKean67 karma

Agent Carter! In the past, Sergeant Bilko.

rajjjjk21 karma


MichaelMcKean69 karma

Bob O. But there's competition from Banks, Rhea, etc. Funny folks on the crew as well.

ProbablyHighAsShit21 karma

So is being allergic to electricity a real psychosomatic illness?

MichaelMcKean53 karma

It is a real condition

suaveitguy20 karma

Any actors that you would like to see in the Christopher Guest universe that haven't been there yet?

MichaelMcKean51 karma

Tough q. I'll have to think about it. Oh! Steve Buscemi. And Dabney Coleman. & Louis CK.

RaylanCrowder19 karma

Favourite line you had to say on Better Call Saul so far?

MichaelMcKean80 karma

To bear witness. (Watch tonight)

backbackbacktoEnci18 karma

You've seen the comedy landscape change over the years, any thoughts on what elements stay consistently funny in film and tv?

MichaelMcKean66 karma

I still laugh at Laurel & Hardy, Bilko, Keaton (Buster & Michael), Preston Sturges. But also love Louis CK, Patton O, Maria Bamford, Sarah Silverman. In short, I don't know!

YaketyMax17 karma

Do you get residual checks from your appearances on The Simpsons?

MichaelMcKean38 karma

Little bitty ones.

philbowman17 karma

Any more movies with Christopher Guest and the gang in the pipeline? Huge fan of all of your movies!

MichaelMcKean39 karma

Watch for Mascots on Netflix. I'm not in it, but I'll be watching.

liamquane17 karma

What was it like working with Francis Ford Coppola? :~)

MichaelMcKean27 karma

Fun. We rehearsed the whole script at his home in Marin county. Shot one day in SF. He's the man.

shabadu8417 karma

Do you have any phobias or eccentricities like Chuck?

MichaelMcKean55 karma

I'm pretty boring. I don't like eggplant.

rajjjjk16 karma


MichaelMcKean89 karma

Invisibility. So I can know what's really going on. Plus, there's the cheerleaders locker room.

rajjjjk15 karma


MichaelMcKean42 karma

See above. Bob is not just funny, he knows the history of comedy and has very good taste. I learn a lot.

liamquane15 karma

Do you have any screenwriting advice?

MichaelMcKean29 karma

Read screenplays that worked (find online); then forget them.

Casey_LFC14 karma

What's it like working on the set of BCS?

Also, will we see as much of your character in season 2 as we did in season 1 or not?

MichaelMcKean34 karma

You'll see more. And it's awesome working on BCS. Great cast great crew.

jsabo14 karma

Now that it's relatively easier to release singles through iTunes/Amazon/etc, any chance that we might get some new Spinal Tap songs?

MichaelMcKean37 karma


johnsciarrino14 karma

Hi Michael!

Have you encountered any other North Shore High School alums on your travels? Until Kate McKinnon, you were the most famous person to come out of North Shore. Do you ever visit your hometown?

MichaelMcKean26 karma

Met the brilliant Kate at the Emmys! I haven't been back in a couple of years, but Sea Cliff is my hometown. Will always love it.

breakfast4supper13 karma

How are you doing this AMA right now if you don't allow electronics in your house?

MichaelMcKean35 karma

Fiction! Pure fiction. I'm okay with the tech.

jeffkeyz13 karma

Are you, as a professional actor, upset that you didn't get an Emmy nomination for Better Call Saul? I was upset for you, Mr. HelpTheresAHogInMyKitchen.

MichaelMcKean51 karma

Nope. Awards are nice, but not the point.

suaveitguy12 karma

Any memories of touring across Canada with Spinal Tap?

MichaelMcKean22 karma

One day, one continent. A load of very beery Canadians. Heap of fun.

suaveitguy12 karma

Who was the oldest old-timer you got to meet when you were starting out? Anyone you were surprised you still got to work with?

MichaelMcKean24 karma

Phil Foster, who played Laverne's dad, was a great friend. Not exactly a mentor, but a guy with a very low bullshit threshold who kept it 100%. Miss him.

BurgersOFA12 karma

What's you're favorite part of the craft services table?

MichaelMcKean22 karma

The IOUs.

logically10 karma

What books are you reading?

MichaelMcKean27 karma

Reading an early James Lee Burke now that I've read his brilliant new one, House of the Rising Sun, which I recommend.

rmarsack9 karma

If they ever reboot Laverne and Shirley, who would you like to play your role?

MichaelMcKean18 karma

Dallas Roberts.

Coys13159 karma

Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

MichaelMcKean40 karma

One horse-sized duck a l'orange.

solisu9 karma

Did you watch 'The Wire' back when it was still fresh, and if so did it impact you in any way?

MichaelMcKean25 karma

Great show. Andre Royo should have gotten at least 2 Emmys. Great writing, mucho heartbreak.

blackchuckiefinster8 karma

Who do you think has better heroes: Marvel or DC?

MichaelMcKean34 karma

Marvel, I guess. But I grew up in the DC golden age, so I'm sentimental...

rajjjjk8 karma


MichaelMcKean23 karma

Don't know. Can't wait to find out...

suaveitguy8 karma

There has to have been talk of Mighty Wind or Spinal Tap on broadway?

MichaelMcKean37 karma

Some folks wanted to do ST, but we hated the idea. It's a casting thing. Same with AMW

mhoke637 karma

Hello, Michael. I can't underestimate how much of an influence you are. The Christopher Guest movies, in particular, are are of some my favorite works of yours.

My question is, are there any plans for a future Folksmen/Spinal Tap tour or performance?


What's your favorite dinosaur? And, do you consider a hot dog a sandwich?

MichaelMcKean18 karma

Not at present; alosaurs; yes & no

andr3dias7 karma

Is there ANY chance we could see you sing in Better Call Saul? And if so, what would you think it would be the funniest song for you to perofrm?

MichaelMcKean29 karma

Something by Tom Lehrer, I suppose. Not much of a chance of that.

SputtleTuts7 karma

Any good stories from This is Spinal Tap?

MichaelMcKean17 karma

A thousand. See me after class.

suaveitguy7 karma

SCTV or Monty Python?

MichaelMcKean7 karma

I cannot choose. Love both

GaiusOrangeJulius5 karma

What is the funniest comedy of all time and why is it Best in Show? (Loved you in it.)

MichaelMcKean5 karma

Miracle of Morgan's Creek, Sons of the Desert, and The Bank Dick give it a run for the money.

XpL0d3r4 karma

How was it working with Vince Gilligan? I see so many correlations between BCS and BB, such as the ring Jimmy got after Marco's death that was worn all throughout BB... that's really cool

MichaelMcKean7 karma

He is the nicest mogul I've ever known. Good writer, too.

RodRescueman4 karma

So are we ever going to get an album of your original songs, like the ones you played solo on Le Show many years ago?

MichaelMcKean9 karma


RallyZona4 karma

Hey Michael, Any coincidence you and Squiggy did a Star Trek episode?

MichaelMcKean10 karma

No. Just two working actors with a lot of time in the makeup chair.

ChuckEye4 karma

I had the privilege of attending a This is Spinal Tap screening at the Egyptian about 15 years ago. (I won an auction to be a paparazzi photographer on the red carpet…)

Back then it seemed like you guys were dusting off the Spinal Tap characters every handful of years with some regularity, either for Break Like the Wind or shows with Tenacious D, or other public events where the characters were in the spotlight.

I was wondering if there was any contractual obligation to keep the characters alive? Or is it just something that happens every few years — one or more of you says, "hey, lets do something as ST again"?

(edit to add one of my pics from the screening…)

MichaelMcKean7 karma

It's gotten more complicated businesswise. Still love the stuff, though.

RedwoodRustlers3 karma

Who is your favorite comedy director other then yourself?

MichaelMcKean11 karma

Preston Sturges. Or Howard Hawks. Or the Coens.

chris_mcv142 karma

Hi, Michael. I am a writer and comedian who is interested in working on Better Call Saul season 3. Is there any suggestions you can give to get my foot in the door as a production or writer's assistant? Thank you!

MichaelMcKean7 karma

Try writing a "spec" script and submitting through an agent. Not really my field, but good luck.

mpstmvox2 karma

Hello Michael! What was it like playing live shows with Spinal Tap? Are you still in contact with the other guys? This is Spinal Tap is one of my favorite movies to this day, thank you!

MichaelMcKean3 karma

Thanks. Carnegie Hall, Glastonbury, Wembley arena: great shows. Lot of fun. We are still in touch.

sassinator12 karma

What's your response to call the hate chuck has received from the online community? Have you experienced any in real life?

MichaelMcKean3 karma


spicypepperoni1 karma

How do you make beef Wellington? You seem like somebody who might now.

MichaelMcKean8 karma

Don't know. It involves beef, I believe. And Bisquick.

make_me_a_sandw1ch1 karma

What are you favourite TV shows currently?

MichaelMcKean8 karma

Agent Carter is my fave right now. I watch a lot older stuff I lost track of, B'walk Empire, Community...

[deleted]1 karma


MichaelMcKean7 karma

Not really. Nice to hear positive comments, that's all.

broadfuckingcity1 karma

Is history/civics a personal interest of yours? Did any of the writers/creators of the show mention anyone else in the McGill family who might appear on the show? Thanks for doing this. BCS is an amazing show.

MichaelMcKean2 karma

Thanks. I read more about show biz history, I'm afraid. Politics baffle me.