I am Giancarlo Esposito. I've had a few people tell me reddit would be a great place to have a discussion with fans. And what does a man do? A man provides.

I've played many roles over the years. You might know me from Breaking Bad, where I play Gus Fring.

I'll begin answering questions here at 2:30pm EST. I'll answer as many questions as I can get to in the discussion. (no spoilers in the questions please!) Also, for a few of your questions where I have longer / interesting stories, I'll also be posting videos with my answer to my YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/digitalforhumans with a video response.

Here are some of the roles I have played over the years: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HDBij8xgfU

Here are some of the places you can keep up with me: On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/quiethandfilms
On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/digitalforhumans On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Giancarlo-Esposito/374827527810

I look forward to answering your questions!

EDIT: Keep an eye out for Video uploads that will be added to certain questions.

EDIT:: As of 4:32 EST, questions have closed! Will be uploading a bunch more answers to questions over the next half hour, so look out.

EDIT AGAIN: Just kidding. 5:14PM EST and still uploading 8 more videos.

FINAL EDIT: Alright, Reddit. This has been a blast. Check out my thank you video!

Also, bonus questions not found in this thread can be found with: - Gus's Relationship with Jesse, Mike, and Gale / Did Walter White Win? / Easter Eggs and Working with Vince Gilligan

Until next time!

Comments: 1831 • Responses: 37  • Date: 


the character of gus is so complex -- did you study anyone or anything in particular to prepare for the role? and do you think the family gus mentions several times really exists? or is that all part of his façade? loved watching you as gus!

GiancarloEsposito604 karma

I wanted to have Gustavo be a character who is very quiet and measured. I felt that if where hiding in plain sight, within the community he would be extremely aware, hyper vigilant... even a man who pays extreme attention to details. I remember a performance by Eddie Olmos in the series Miami Vice - he was completely flatlined. I always wanted to play a character who draws YOU as a viewer to him.

bcgraham115 karma

Damn, no resolution to the family question! Maybe next season.

GiancarloEsposito456 karma

I didn't forget you, bcgraham... Here's your resolution. Click HERE for the video response.

GiancarloEsposito446 karma

The video was actually made 2 years before I appeared as the chicken man. I was about to take a flight and my girlfriend was the one of the flight attendants. She said all of her colleagues were hungry so I stopped and bought 4 chicken dinners. I got to the plane and shared it with all of them. When I sat down to eat my plate of chicken, one of the other flight attendants thought she was taking a photo, but she was really taking a video! I was so exhausted I started doing that dance and she named it the "Jump Seat Chicken".

koshercowboy483 karma

Holy crap! Giancarlo! I met you at JFK International Airport about 8 months ago. I was obviously unshaven and carrying a guitar slung over my arm in an old brown case. You were with a female discussing something probably rather important, and as I ate my shoddy meal, jet-lagged, I worked up the courage to walk over to you and tell you that I love what you do and who you are; that you should never quit what you do because you inspire me.

You said "Thank you.", gave me a warm smile and I walked on.

I turned around after about 20 paces and smiled in your direction only to find you still leaning with your head turned at me, smiling.

This sounds like the beginning to a very boring love story, but I assure you, my love for you extends no further than respect and admiration for your craft that you've honed well over the years.

So, thanks again! Your acting ability is incredibly underrated. You're one of the greatest highlights in Breaking Bad. Without you, it would not be what it has achieved.

GiancarloEsposito389 karma

Hmm, I think I may remember this guy. I think.

snusrob88478 karma

You are badass.

This is not a question.

GiancarloEsposito1119 karma

I am. And I love it.

jshimmy385 karma

What was the most difficult scene you had to shoot, and why?

GiancarloEsposito534 karma

The most difficult was episode 408 at Hermanos. Because as a character Gus had to feel emotions he had never felt befoee. Always in control through the series and when faced with Don Eladio, I felt completely humbled and I had lost my positon of power. And it didn't feel very good. I was feeling vulnerable. Afraid for my life. And very, very, very frightened.

jshimmy108 karma

Awesome answer. Thanks so much!

GiancarloEsposito193 karma

Thank you!

tjn225365 karma

Admit your favorite scene was when you were walking towards that sniper.

GiancarloEsposito769 karma

Absolutely. I felt like it was the good, the bad and the ugly.

sartreofthesuburbs200 karma

Everyone on the cast of BrBA plays such serious roles. While shooting, does the cast joke around and break character between shots, or do you keep your Gustavo face on the whole time you're on the set?

GiancarloEsposito532 karma

Some of the cast does break character -- after all it should be fun. But, for me as Gustavo I try to stay in the mix of the characters parameters. I stay quiet. Only because I have to say so much without words. I want my body and mind and emotions to be really clear so I stay focused.

djw666196 karma

How much input and leeway do you get in creating the character Gus? When we see you playing him on screen, he's a quiet but deadly character. Even when he does speak, it's very measured and calculating. How much of that is written or created for you, and how much do you get to play within the defined character?

Either way, you do a hell of a job, one of my favorite TV characters of all time.


GiancarloEsposito302 karma

As an actor, I like to stay close to what the writer has written. It often turns into the writer inspiring the actor and the actor inspiring the writer. I don't improvise lines a lot unless I feel I can say it better than the writers and the writers on Breaking Bad are stellar!

EDIT: Click HERE for Video Response

benjamincanfly195 karma

Your Spanish sounds very good to me, but my South American friend remarked during an episode that she could tell by your accent that you were not a native speaker. Is that the case? Did you speak any Spanish before BB, and if not, did you learn much for the role?

GiancarloEsposito319 karma

I did speak some Spanish before Breaking Bad. I read it very well. Therefore although I am not fluent, I appear to be. It was tricky in Breaking Bad because it was a Chilean accent.

ryeisenberg192 karma

Did you get to keep any mementos from the Breaking Bad set?

GiancarloEsposito442 karma

Yes actually! I stole a coffee mug that I liked because it was so colorful and had the Pollos Hermanos logo on it. I also stole an eraser. I love those old fashion erasers that fit on the end of a pencil, it reminds me of grade school.

EDIT: Click HERE for Video Response

foodvillain189 karma

Has there ever been an indication of Gus' possible homosexuality, script-wise or through the way you were introduced to his character?

GiancarloEsposito206 karma

There was never any indication at all that Gus had any homosexual tendencies, other than episode 408. And I personally believe that nothing is ever black and white and I believe Gus had a way of cultivating people, whether chemists, school teachers, or as businessmen. I had long discussions with Vince Gilligan that it shouldn't be pointed up either way (and he agreed). And the audience should have to decide.

theloneavenger163 karma

Please don't kill me.

GiancarloEsposito479 karma

No promises : )

willb483152 karma

Which of the Breaking Bad actors most impressed you with their acting abilities?

GiancarloEsposito281 karma

My favorite Breaking Bad actor - and its difficult to pick only one - would by Bryan Cranston. I said to myself this guy looks really familiar - he was so lovely and cordial. The reason why I choose Bryan is because he is a master actor and also we had incredible chemistry together. Bryan is my favorite of all the Breaking Bad actors. I also enjoy working with Aaron Paul, as I’ve worked with him 2-3 times in my career. I’ve watched him become a beautiful actor, so he's my next favorite. Kind of obvious to pick the top 2 but I do love them both.

EDIT: Click HERE for the Video Response

gnat_146 karma

From imdb, you have experience directing a feature film.

Do you think there will be an opportunity for you to direct an upcoming episode of Breaking Bad? If so, what would you like to do with it?

GiancarloEsposito248 karma

I sure hope so! I've talked to Vince Gilligan about the possibility. Bryan Cranston is a big supporter of the idea. I love this show because its the closest thing to movies on TV. We make mini movies every week which is a way to be highly creative with the camera, blending that great writing that that's given to us by the writers.

MyCarIsACamel138 karma

Long term fan here.

I'd first like to say your portrayal of Gus is chilling. The episode Box Cutter was definitely one of my favorites. Seeing the development and progression of your character in the show was just great.

For questions though:

  • What episodes / scenes were the most fun for you to make?

  • What was the most challenging thing you ever had to do on the set for Breaking Bad?

  • Are you really so polite and cordial in real life?

  • As "a guy who likes to be discreet" in season 2, did you have any idea that you'd end up playing such a large role in upcoming seasons?

And I'd just like to say thanks a lot for doing this AMA. You made my day.

Edit: I accidentally a word

GiancarloEsposito215 karma

I'm very old school. My father is from Naples, Italy and he was always very fastidious and careful with clothes. He taught me the importance of taking care of yourself and looking good. I also went to Military school and that instilled in me the importance of taking care of my clothes. You take care of things and they'll take care of you! So that careful and fastidious part of Gus is also a part of who I am.

EDIT: Click HERE for the Video Response.

rocketsauce1980131 karma

How many takes did the cast do for the famous Box Cutter scene? What was the vibe in the room and after the scene was a wrap? Seems like it'd be pretty heavy in there.

GiancarloEsposito227 karma

26 takes on one angle (to give you an idea, there were more takes than that).

The vibe in the room was very quiet. Very tense. Disturbed feeling.

sartreofthesuburbs117 karma

How do you feel about Breaking Bad's legacy as one of the best television shows ever? Many people are putting it well ahead of The Wire, and The Sopranos, and there is still a whole season left of Breaking Bad.

GiancarloEsposito280 karma

I think that Breaking Bad is the best show on TV at present. And the reason it's ahead of the Wire and Sopranos is that it's a-typical. Many shows are written in a very expected way using stereotypes reminding us of what we've seen before. Breaking Bad breaks that mold. I view it as a story of the American Family and the plight that the family is challenged with today.

Boogie_knight102 karma

You ever eat any of that Los Pollos Hermanos chicken?

GiancarloEsposito216 karma

The chicken was actually from an Albuquerque fast food joint called Twisters. We just put our own signage on the packages. I don't normally eat fried chicken but I love to pick the fried skin off the chicken to snack on when my kids eat it!

TheBearJ3w91 karma

your line delivery in the movie "The Box" has inspired me in ways you can't possibly imagine. How did you mentally prepare for that scene and can you teach me your ways? (video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOmp3HpAGgM&feature=related)

GiancarloEsposito105 karma

I play a real hardass in that scene. That was precursor to Gus. He was just a little more verbal. I remember to actor AJ Buckley and something about him I really liked as a person, but I just didn't like the way he looked. He reminded me of an Irish kid that I went to military school with so I decided that I was going to kick his ass. It was a brutal fight scene.

RevengeWalrus87 karma

This is less related to breaking bad, but one of my favorite roles I've seen you in was Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing as Buggin Out. First, what was it like to work with Spike in that setting (if I remember correctly, you filmed in a legitimate ghetto) and secondly, have you taken anything away from that character or experience that influenced the way you play Gus?

GiancarloEsposito123 karma

These are two very different characters. At that time in NY it was a very hot place politically and the summer we shot was one of the hottest on record. We all had the feeling that we were doing something different. We took over a whole block of residential housing in Brooklyn to shoot the movie. The subject matter was so important and extremely moving. Spike Lee directed it brilliantly. To this day I think it's one of his best movies.

sputternik86 karma

how do you make your eyes so void of emotion in character?

GiancarloEsposito143 karma

It's been asked a lot and it's an interesting question. I do a lot of yoga breathing to relax myself.

SyKoHPaTh81 karma

  • How much of the story were you aware of before each episode was shot?

  • Have you watched Breaking Bad at all before you started?

GiancarloEsposito160 karma

Very little. Most of what the writers do is in the writers' room. They don't share it with the actors. So I had no idea Gus would become such an intrinsic part of the show in season 3. And I said no I didn't want to come back because I didn't have a contract, and they wanted me to come back as a guest star. But I wanted to be a member of the family. They then offered me 7 episodes, and I said no again. And then they offered me 11, and I said yes. Because they only do 13 episodes. And I thought 11 was a good number.

In terms of watching Breaking Bad before I started...no. I hadn't seen the show. When they came to me and offered me a guest spot on the show I had to ask them to send me a DVD. And I had to say no then because I was raising money as a feature director for my second feature film.

But after watching the show I realized this was as close to a film as I could be on television and I love films.

MrMagicpants80 karma

What's something you know as an actor today that you wish you had known when you first began your acting career?

GiancarloEsposito137 karma

To take more time.

CrackaG77 karma

How does it feel to be one of the most feared (badass) and revered characters ever created in a television series?

I was torn whether to like Gus or hate him throughout the seasons. I am still torn today.

GiancarloEsposito154 karma

It feels great! Somewhere during the middle of Season 4 people started to relate to Gus. If the audience starts to love the bad guy then I've sone my job well because I've made him personal and I've made him real.

benjamincanfly74 karma

Do you think of Gus Fring as a good person?

Do you think of Walter White as a good person?

Who do you consider the "hero" or protagonist of Breaking Bad? Walter? Jesse? Skyler? Hank?

GiancarloEsposito103 karma

Click HERE for the video response.

DidIGetThatRight66 karma

Gus! Giancarlo! Huge fan here, from Canada.

  • What are your views on illicit drugs (not necessarily Meth), the economy behind them and the monumental efforts to curb their existence?
  • Based on the above, how do you feel regarding the role your character represented in BB?
  • Can we look forward to seeing you in some big name productions anytime soon? Do you prefer the type of stern-faced character we got to see in BB or would you like the chance to show off your emotional and professional range?

Thanks again for doing this!!

GiancarloEsposito50 karma

Click HERE for the video response regarding drugs.

jjaasssoonn56 karma

Gus is hesitant to work with Walt at first, sensing that he's not a careful man. Do you think Gus blames himself or Walt for the events that happen later on, and change in the relationship? Love your work!

Edit: Removed spoilers

GiancarloEsposito96 karma

I got a great video response right HERE for you.

larsao349 karma

Do you have anything exciting lined up that we can look forward to? PS: LOVE you in Breaking Bad!

GiancarloEsposito128 karma

Yes I do! I'm currently in a fabulous TV show called Once Upon a Time from the writers of LOST. It's a fun show about real word fairytales. I'm having a blast playing 2 different characters. I have a huge episode coming up on 1/29 where the fans will get to see a bit more of me!

Appleanche43 karma

Since a lot of these questions focus around the more serious nature of your character I'll ask some lighter questions.

What was the funniest thing you saw on set? Any good pranks or anything you were involved in?

GiancarloEsposito43 karma

Click HERE for the video response!

zassaz41 karma

What's your favorite drink?

GiancarloEsposito151 karma

Chai tea!

filthysize33 karma

I was a massive fan of Homicide and one of my favorite episodes of all time is the one directed by Kathryn Bigelow with your character leading a hostage situation. That was probably the most intense hour of television I've seen until Breaking Bad came along.

When you're shooting tense situations like that or Gus' numerous confrontations with Walt, is it more important for you as an actor to invent that atmosphere as much as possible on set, or is it more important for you to be able to step out and keep things lighthearted between takes?

GiancarloEsposito45 karma

Similar to on Breaking Bad, for me it's more important for me to stay in the moment.

GreenEggsAndBam31 karma

how did you get into acting? and at what age? also, any tips for aspiring actors out there? cheers!

GiancarloEsposito73 karma

I started acting at 7 years old. I was watching TV with my bro when commercial came on. My parents recently divorced and we were struggling to stay alive. I decided to ask my mom to take us to an agent. I sang Happy Birthday as an audition song and I landed my first role in a Broadway musical. My advice would be stay committed! Read everything! And believe in yourself!

fangsup30 karma

Were you told Gus's entire back story and if so, how did that affect the way you portrayed him? Also, can you tell us whether we'll learn more about his past in the next season, or will his history remain unknown to the viewers?

Thank you so much for doing this, you're a fantastic actor!

GiancarloEsposito43 karma

Click HERE for the video response.

elpierce29 karma

You've been in one of the greatest films of all time ("The Usual Suspects"), and you've been in one of the greatest television shows of all time ("Breaking Bad"). These will be looked at for generations as examples of excellence in their representative formats.

Do you ever say to yourself, "Hell, yeah!"?

GiancarloEsposito33 karma

Hell Yeah I'm lucky! I'll explain in THIS Video Response.

AntiFar28 karma

You were born in Denmark, have you ever been back?

GiancarloEsposito39 karma

No. Not yet!