One reason Breaking Bad became such a popular show is that it had some epic villains. From the antihero Walter White to his arch nemesis Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), the series is filled with brilliant masterminds who are constantly outsmarting one another. Until one of them winds up dead.
Fring is terrifying because of his total control of emotions. His icy cold demeanor, paired with a ruthless desire to become the meth kingpin of the Southwest by any means, makes Fring a formidable foe for Walt and Jesse. But it turns out Fring wasn’t originally supposed to be the main villain on Breaking Bad.
Gus Fring takes time warming up to Walt and Jesse
On the show, Walt and Jesse truly launch their drug manufacturing careers after becoming Fring’s associates. He’s a key player in the Mexican drug cartel while simultaneously running a successful chain of chicken restaurants in Albuquerque. Hiding in plain sight allows Fring to break the law and get away with it.
And Fring was cautious, initially declining to work with Walt and Jesse because they were not polished like he was. Eventually, they convinced him to take them on, but the relationship went bad quickly. By season 4, Walt and Fring were both conspiring to kill each other.
Fring wasn’t meant to be the main villain in ‘Breaking Bad’
There is no shortage of bad guys in a show about drug dealing. However, Fring wasn’t supposed to become the main antagonist originally. Esposito told Time he wasn’t interested in the show at first because it was such a small part.
“I had not seen Breaking Bad, but my manager at the time told me it was his favorite show,” the actor said. “My wife said I should I try it, but it was a guest spot and I’ve done a lot of guest spots. I wanted to develop a character. But I did one episode and then I agreed to do two more with the caveat that I wanted to be part of a filmmaking family.”
Esposito claims he ‘slid into’ the ‘Breaking Bad’ family
Fring wasn’t intended to become the main villain but series creator Vince Gilligan knew enough to be flexible. After offering Esposito an additional seven episodes, the actor pushed back and asked for more. And Gilligan trusted him enough to agree.
“There was some negotiating and I ended up doing 12,” Esposito continued. “I wanted to create a character who became intrinsic to the show. And at some point, I realized that I had slid into the Breaking Bad family.”
The showrunner recognized Esposito’s talent. “Vince told me that I changed the game and raised the bar for the show. And I’m proud of that, but I could only do that because of the depth of the writing and due to the chemistry between Bryan Cranston and myself. And their writing inspired me to think, to create someone who was polite, threatening and poignant.”
It obviously worked. Gus Fring is one of the most memorable, terrifying villains in dramatic television. Good thing Gilligan gave him that chance.