It’s been nearly two years since Breaking Bad wrapped up and almost four since Gustavo Fring bit the dust, but when you get the opportunity to talk to Giancarlo Esposito, it still feels like a crime to pass on asking about his experience going from a guest star to creating one of the most unforgettable TV villains out there.
While attending San Diego Comic-Con to promote Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Esposito took a moment to recall being approached for the role and how Gus grew from a one-episode character to someone who would go on to terrorize Walter White (Bryan Cranston) for three seasons:
“I went into Breaking Bad as a guest star to do one episode, basically because they had chased me for the show and I finally said yes and I went to do one episode and they asked me to do one more at the end of the second season and I said yes to that and then they said, ‘Well, if we wanted you to come back in the third season, would you do it?’ I said, ‘Well, you have four months hiatus so why don’t you come to me then? I don’t know. I would only do it if I could be part of the family of filmmakers.’ They had no idea. They thought that Gus would be around for a couple of episodes, they’d kill him off and he’d be a good bad guy. That’s how their bad guys roll on that show, but I knew that after I did two episodes that there was an opportunity. If they wanted to meet for that and take that opportunity with me, that would be great and they did and Vince had such a great vision, but I also thought I had great ideas extending from the inspiration that I got from his writing. And it was really one line. It was, ‘hiding in plain sight.’ He wrote on the stage direction, ‘hiding in plain sight,’ and I just went, ‘Wow. How many people in our world hide in plain sight that we know, but they’re not really who we think they are?’”
And Vince Gilligan isn’t the only person Esposito credits with helping him turn Gus into such an iconic villain. Cranston made a huge difference as well:
“It was just sort of the rapport that was established between Vince and I, and also, even more importantly, the synchronicity that was going on between me and Bryan. We just had a great relationship. It was just a great relationship. Acting is, you know, being who you are, but often times when you’re with a really great actor, you start to do what they’re doing as opposed to just staying steeped in who you are, and when Bryan and I got together, he was steeped in who he is and I was steeped in who I was and it was just, bang, sparks. And that’s what great acting is.”
We’ll have more from Esposito on Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials soon.