June 9, 2023

Though Don Harvey originated the role effectively, the Better Call Saul Jeff recast in season 6 with Pat Healy had its reasons. Though a small role in the series, Jeff was being set up to play a pivotal role in the show’s final season only for the distracting recasting to occur. With Better Call Saul now on Netflix to binge in its entirety, the recasting will be even more noticeable. Typically, character recasts on TV shows are reserved for emergency situations, especially with long-running series such as Better Call Saul. However, in the case of Jeff, the external factors seemed, on the surface at least, more perplexing.


Jeff the cab driver has been one of the most memorable side characters in Better Call Saul to date. Seen only in the show’s black and white, flash-forward, present-day sequences, Jeff was responsible for one of season 5’s more dramatic moments, when he demanded that Jimmy, a.ka. “Gene,” repeat the iconic better call Saul!” catchphrase, confirming that he had been recognized as his former alias Saul Goodman. Until Better Call Saul season 6, the character had been played by actor Don Harvey. However, for the final season — specifically season 6, episode 10, “Nippy” — Harvey was replaced by the equally adept Pat Healy.

Why Jeff Was Recast In Better Call Saul

News of the Better Call Saul Jeff recast broke before the show came back on the air for season 6, leading to fervent fan speculation around exactly why this change was made. Despite the existence of multiple colorful theories, the real reason for the decision is disappointingly prosaic. Unfortunately for Harvey, he was already contracted to work on the David Simon drama We Own This City. As a result of his obligation to that show, he was forced to leave the Better Call Saul team, necessitating the appointment of Pat Healy as a replacement. Even though the decision may seem initially jarring, the situation was unavoidable.

Why Jeff’s Role In Better Call Saul Was Even Better Than Expected

Don Harvey as Jeff And Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul

While an unfamiliar face in a character-based show like Better Call Saul is undeniably disconcerting, the decision to replace Don Harvey with Pat Healy in the role of Jeff actually had a surprising benefit. Although there was a very real risk that recasting Jeff could have undone any and all character development, the result was that the character was actually imbued with a fresh and less menacing perspective. For all Harvey’s undoubted qualities in the role, Healy actually brought a slight sense of levity, which worked within the context of the Better Call Saul season 6 story.

In many cases, recasting integral characters can both alienate the fanbase and undermine the overarching narrative. However, thanks to careful consideration of who should play the part and what the producers wanted to get out of the role, Better Call Saul season 6’s new-look Jeff actually helped the show. The news of Jeff being played by Pat Healy instead of Don Harvey may have been met with skepticism, but the end result wound up being an improvement.

How Original Jeff Actor Don Hervey Addressed The Recast

An image of the Taxi driver looking at the camera through the mirror in Better Call Saul

While the drastic Better Call Saul Jeff recast worked out well enough for the show, it was obviously a big disappointment to original Jeff actor Don Harvey. Though he gave a stand-out performance in the excellent We Own This City, seeing as he was building up the role of Jeff from a small role to a more key one, it would have been nice for him to be able to finish out the character’s journey especially as the role finally go substantial. However, Harvey (via Twitter) took the whole thing in stride and showed professionalism in sharing his reaction to the recasting, saying “Thanks for all the comments on my Jeff in BCS-4&5. Disappointed I couldn’t return for season 6 due to scheduling conflicts. The bright spot is the wonderfully talented Pat Healy put his own stamp on the role. Great job Pat.”

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