How Giancarlo Esposito Prepared to Bring Gus Fring Back in ‘Better Call Saul’

Giancarlo Esposito plays the overawing role of Gus Fring in the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul universe. His role in Better Call Saul gives fans a glimpse at Gus’ life before Walter White, or Heisenberg, as he comes to know him. 

Esposito spoke with the IMDB Show to discuss how he was able to go back in time and tell the story of a less experienced Gus Fring. 

How Giancarlo Esposito went back in time for 'Better Call Saul'
Giancarlo Esposito | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)

Giancarlo Esposito said he had to go ‘back in time’

The greatest challenge Esposito said he faced playing Gus in Better Call Saul was “going back in time” and creating vulnerability within the role. 

By the time we meet Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, he has claimed his territory above the border. At this point, Better Call Saul has shown fans how difficult Lalo Salamanca made it for Gus to do so. Esposito said he needed to showcase a version of Gus that would still leave a “place for the character to grow” into the fan-favorite seen in Breaking Bad. 

‘Better Call Saul’ gave us a younger Gus Fring 

The Gus Fring we meet in Breaking Bad is certainly older and wiser, given the things he has had to deal with up until that point. In his interview with IMDb, Esposito mentioned the physical changes he made to make his character appear younger in Better Call Saul. Keeping his hair long naturally, Esposito described combing it back to give Gus a more youthful appearance than the tightly-shaven head we see on Gus in Breaking Bad.

Giancarlo Esposito’s ability to become Gus Fring  

Esposito described the mantra that’s always going through his mind whenever he plays Gus: “I’ll kill you. Do no look at me. Do not talk to me, and do not ask me the wrong question.”  

In addition to that mantra, Esposito taps into his childhood experiences to become the ever-so-intimidating Gus Fring. Esposito explained how he “got messed with when [he] was a kid.” He went on to say: “And so to not be bullied, I had to let someone know that if you stepped across the line, I would do something absolutely crazy.” 

Esposito’s experiences are not all that different from Gus Fring’s. After seeing his partner, Max Arciniega killed right in front of him, Gus must become ruthless and do whatever it takes — no matter how crazy — to seek revenge on Hector Salamanca, Juan Bolsa, Don Eladio, and the entire Cartel. 

How Giancarlo Esposito stays in character 

Esposito also discussed how staying in character while on set helps him focus on the role of Gus. He conceded that he had a lot of success with the “space” Gus Fring creates. As a man of very few words, Gus uses silence as his intimidation. To maintain that level of authority for his character, Esposito pushes his “white noise button” and runs through his lines in his head to stay in character, even when the cameras aren’t rolling. 

Better Call Saul is confirmed for a sixth and final season. Fans are eager to see what happens between Gus Fring, Lalo Salamanca, and the drug trade above the border in the time leading up to where Breaking Bad‘s storyline picks up. 

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