Giancarlo Esposito: Acting, Life & Politics

By Bryan Schott

Giancarlo Esposito has a simple philosophy: “Ask for what you want and ask for what you need.”

He said that worldview is what helped him land the role he’s probably best known for – Gus Fring, the villainous kingpin from the critically acclaimed series “Breaking Bad.”

“Gus had a line during the series about how a man provides for his family. I was divorcing when AMC first came to me about the role,” Esposito told a packed crowd at Salt Lake Comic Con 2014. “I was wondering how I was going to be able to dig out of that situation financially. When they offered me a spot as a regular cast member, it wasn’t enough money. I was actually going to lose money on the deal. Remember – ask for what you need. I loved this show and I couldn’t do what they wanted for that money. Eventually, they came back with enough money that I was just breaking even.”

He also talked about the upcoming “Breaking Bad” spin-off “Better Call Saul.” The bad news – don’t expect to see him on the screen anytime soon.

“Peter Gould, the showrunner, says Saul didn’t know Gus directly, which kinda leaves the possibility of a cameo out,” he said. “Gus is actually more famous than I, which makes it hard to go back and reprise the character. I might be interested in doing a couple of guest episodes that would eventually lead to a separate series about the rise of Gus.”

Esposito clearly tries to live in the moment as much as possible.

“I have four daughters, and the youngest is kind of a ham. She might be an actress someday. Every time I try to take a picture of her, she smiles broadly and plays to the camera. I tell her, ‘Don’t smile.’ I just want to see what she has in her heart at that moment and take a picture of that. I think we should always be right where we are at.”

Esposito also took some time to share his political views, which tend to lean toward the progressive.

“We are starting to think too much about ‘me’ instead of thinking about ‘we,’” he said. “Right now we are being prepped to start paying for one of the natural resources that should be available to everyone – water. This is a capitalistic society, but we can’t [set] things aside for the fat cats and rich guys who take more and more. I hope things eventually will change as the youth and young people start to take charge.”

He took an opportunity to talk about his early work with famed director Spike Lee in the film “Do the Right Thing.”

“That movie changed things in New York politics,” he said proudly. “Spike and I love each other, but the movie illustrated to me I want to be in a society of humans that look out for each other.”

Although he clearly loves the craft of acting, Esposito doesn’t want it to dominate his life.

“I’m just a human, no better or worse than you,” he told the audience. “I just had the blessing to realize what I’m good at and what I do. But we all channel what’s around us. I come to Utah to ski and to go to Sundance and to be in the grandeur of this place. We live in a world of this most beautiful creation. Why aren’t we creating more? Why aren’t we playing more? We deserve to create. We need to share with others.”

Bryan Schott is an Official Salt Lake Comic Con Blogger. Check out his work on Facebook, Twitter and!

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