The way people feel about Bob Odenkirk is in direct opposition to the number of dirtbags, hucksters, and loudmouths he has brought to life. We hate those kinds of guys, and yet we love the comedian turned character actor turned leading man—as evidenced by the fact that no one can get any work done today because we’re constantly refreshing news sites and social media for word on how he’s doing.
The 58-year-old reportedly collapsed on the New Mexico set of Better Call Saul yesterday and has been hospitalized, with no word about his condition. His representatives tell Vanity Fair they have no updates to share at this time. His loved ones, of course, have no obligation to inform the general public about his medical status, but what’s remarkable in this era of scorching hot takes and relentless all-consuming cynicism is the way concern for the actor has resulted in a rare moment of social media unity.
“I really need someone to tell me Bob Odenkirk is okay right now,” reads a typical post on Twitter. “Big prayers for national treasure Bob Odenkirk,” states another. They’re in many different languages, and come from many different parts of the world, accompanied by thousands of likes and retweets. Most are from strangers, but some are posts from fellow actors: “Oh man, really hope Bob Odenkirk is ok,” tweeted Elijah Wood. One popular post was just a circle of protection with candle emojis:
UPDATE: Late in the afternoon, a statement from the actor’s reps offered an update on his condition: “We can confirm Bob is in stable condition after experiencing a heart related incident. He and his family would like to express gratitude for the incredible doctors and nurses looking after him, as well as his cast, crew and producers who have stayed by his side. The Odenkirks would also like to thank everyone for the outpouring of well wishes and ask for their privacy at this time as Bob works on his recovery.”
The actor’s son, journalist Nate Odenkirk, tweeted simply:
That’s what everyone wanted: If not a happy ending, an upbeat prognosis. It capped a remarkable day on social media that accentuated the positive in the face of personal tragedy. And it may have delivered overdue respect to a nice guy who had more than earned it.
It’s fair to say that Odenkirk was always generally liked by audiences, but he has never been a trending topic or an object of such sumptuous admiration and attention before. So what was behind this avalanche of goodwill, especially on a platform like Twitter, with its increasingly well-earned reputation for pile-ons, shaming, bullying, and the overall daily discord known as “the discourse”? This repository of scorn and endless dunking became like a hushed waiting room.