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Giancarlo Esposito’s Breaking Bad character Gustavo “Gus” Fring is undoubtedly one of the most frightening characters on television. As a major drug distributor, Gus had some terrifying connections in the Mexican drug cartel, but they were nothing compared to his threatening demeanor.

Viewers agree that watching Gus onscreen is incredibly unnerving, and Esposito has an interesting theory on why. 

Giancarlo Esposito utilized the ‘Pinter Pause’ to make his ‘Breaking Bad’ character more intimidating

Giancarlo Esposito recently spoke to GQ about his most memorable roles, including Gus Fring, who appeared on both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. It may surprise fans that the actor utilized a simple technique called the “Pinter Pause” to come off as more intimidating, ultimately unnerving viewers. 

The “Pinter Pause” is named after British playwright Harold Pinter who used this technique in his work. In his interview, Esposito explained how he comes from a theater background which led to his decision to apply this method to Gus’ character:

“I realized you can’t mess with the words. They were good… How do I slow my timing down, so I can hear more, so I can be contemplative, so I can allow space to affect me? And so when someone would say something to me, I wouldn’t answer right away. I would really hear them. Study them. And it unnerves people.

I mean, I realize if I don’t answer, I just look at you, what’s going on in your head may be, ‘Did I say something wrong? Am I stupid? Oh my God, is he gonna kill me? What’s happening with him right now? Does he have a pulse?'”

Giancarlo Esposito opens a Los Pollos Hermanos pop-up restaurant in Sydney, Australia
Breaking Bad star Giancarlo Esposito at a Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant in 2017 | Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Esposito also mentioned how his experiences with yoga and controlled breathing helped him to implement the technique. 

Giancarlo Esposito spoke to ‘Breaking Bad’ creator about his character before agreeing to appear regularly

Most fans don’t know that Esposito originally appeared as a guest on Season 3 of Breaking Bad. So when they invited him to return as a regular in Season 4, the actor asked to first speak to the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan. He told GQ what happened after they offered him a contract:

“I said I’d love to speak to the creator because I wanted to do something different. I felt like, okay, they’ve had their villain of the week, and now they want a formidable villain to play opposite of Walter White, Brian Cranston, who was brilliant in that show. But I didn’t wanna sign on unless I was gonna do something that was atypical. And so I had to figure out what that was.”

After a long conversation with Gilligan about his vision for Esposito’s character, it became clear they were both on the same page. To think, fans almost didn’t get season four’s storyline with Gus!

The actor uses this story during university lectures and with his children as an example of why you should always ask for what you want.

Giancarlo Esposito in ‘Kaleidoscope’ on Netflix

Esposito recently starred in Kaleidoscope on Netflix as Leo Pap/Ray Vernon. The limited series is best known for its unique structure that allows viewers to choose the order of episodes. 


‘Breaking Bad’: Giancarlo Esposito Was ‘Very Disturbed’ When He Saw How He Was Going To Die

Similar to Gus, Esposito’s character is a long-time criminal. Instead of distributing drugs, however, he leads a crew as they work on pulling off a $7 billion heist.