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Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito on His Emmy Nod and Gus’s Possible Return to the Show

Giancarlo Esposito. Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Giancarlo Esposito can’t shake Gus Fring, and he won’t be able to for the next few months. The Breaking Bad actor just received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of the sinister drug kingpin blown to smithereens last season. Now he’s dreaming of his comeback. Esposito called Vulture from the North Carolina set of his new show, Revolution, to talk about his toughest days and how he envisions Gus’s paying Walt back, dead or otherwise.

Congratulations! How did you find out about your nomination?
I found out from my publicist Lee Wallman. Then my children at the same moment were calling, so I knew something was going on. All four of my girls got me on speakerphone to yell, “Congratulations, Papa, we knew you could do it!” None of them watch the show except my eldest, of course.

How old is she?
Shayne, she’s 16. I had to make a big decision about allowing her to see the screening in Albuquerque of the fourth season opener, “Box Cutter.” I was nervous about that. But she really took it well. I turned to her before it started and said, “Just remember something, Shayne. The guy you’re looking at right here is your papa. The guy up there is the guy your papa is channeling.” She said to me afterward, “I thought it was okay, but I gotta say, I thought that was a great kill.”

Glad to hear she wasn’t traumatized.

It’s rocked her world. I mean, she wants to be a pathologist! I took her on a visit to the morgue in Albuquerque and we saw cadavers and the whole thing, and it didn’t even move her. She’s really mature. 

That scene was super bloody. Was it difficult to shoot?

So much blood. We must have done it twenty times. I was so concerned about having the proper footing so I didn’t hurt myself or Jeremiah Bitsui [who played Victor, Gus’s victim], and I didn’t have the right size boots. They were too big, and I was slipping and sliding around in that blood. A wardrobe gal finally brought me Bryan Cranston’s boots and they were the perfect fit. Bryan and I have great chemistry on the show, and certainly we’d be the same shoe size.

Another revealing Gus moment was the flashback to when he and his partner were just getting started. What did you think about seeing yourself with fewer wrinkles?
Are you kidding me? It’s very, very weird. They darkened my hair a bit, made it sort of a small Afro, and they tried to pull my skin back to make me look younger. They tried. It was very, very strange. I had also been used to being in command, and a couple of things overtook me, one being that I had to speak fluent Spanish. I’m not Spanish — I’m half-Italian, half black — and I was faced with five Spanish speakers, all fluent. So, yeah, that began my journey into the world of being vulnerable. I certainly had to feel small that day in character, but it was weird to not be in control. I didn’t like it. I walked away from the set almost in tears. I missed old Gus!

Do you think he’ll return before the series ends next year? Being dead didn’t prevent us from seeing more of Jane. Have you talked to Vince about it?
It’s always a possibility. I know he and the writers are full of ideas. It’s in the ether that it’s a possibility. I would love to go back and truly miss this particular group of filmmakers. And I also miss Gustavo. But there’s part of me that doesn’t even know if I could do it — I’m an actor. That run had such depth and such grace and charisma that I would be challenged to fit into his skin again. It takes a lot of deep breathing, some really deep yoga breathing. I really have to let myself go when I channel Gustavo. He takes me over. In fact, I was in New York after the fourth season was finished, walking down the street in Manhattan, and some guys yelled at me, “We love you, Gus!” and as I walked away from them, I noticed how I was walking and how my stature changed. I started laughing. I thought, Get away from me, Gus. Leave me alone. I was turning into him again.

He’s haunting you. 

It happens that way. It really does.

Could Walt surpass Gus’s evilness? He was pretty creepy with Skyler in the season premiere.
I would hope so. In my fondest dreams, I would hope Gus comes back in Walt’s dreams and instructs him on how to go about things as he did in the beginning of the show. “A man provides.” I love that line. I think the gloves are off already. I think Walt has gone all the way to the other side, and I’d love to see him become far more sinister than Gus. I’d like Gus to be present in his nightmares and struggles and that he becomes so Gus-like that it haunts his every pore. I curse him with that!

Breaking Bad Giancarlo Esposito on His Emmy Nod