Giancarlo Esposito interview: ‘Better Call Saul,’ ‘The Mandalorian’

“This is the end of an era and a very special journey,” reflects Giancarlo Esposito about the conclusion of “Better Call Saul.” For our recent webchat he adds, “Possibly. In my brain, Gustavo Fring deserves the rise of Gus.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

“Better Call Saul” closed out its seven-season run last year with one of the most acclaimed final seasons in television history. The series tracked Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) becoming the sleazy but charming lawyer Saul Goodman from “Breaking Bad.” Esposito says a great strength to “Better Call Saul” was that it “allowed you to see more clearly the struggle we have with ourselves.”

Over 13 years in “Bad” and “Saul,” Esposito played Gus, a charming fast food chain CEO by day and a menacing drug boss by night. It’s a role that has earned him three Emmy nominations for Drama Supporting Actor. In the final season, we see Gus living under high security. Esposito explains, “In ‘Better Call Saul,’ I’ve learned to cultivate a certain vulnerability about Gus. It has been an interesting journey. The threat of Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) had Gus on his heels. It allowed me to start to think about Gus’ life. A man who is so close to the vest and held together by the threads of his brain.”

The final season sees the cunning Gus kill Lalo. Later, in the character’s final scene, sitting in a bar he talks to a waiter over a glass of wine. When the waiter goes to get another bottle, Gus leaves. It is a quiet close for a character that is known for his menace. The actor admits, “You see that very vulnerable opening where he wants to make a human connection. And then, that moment where he shuts it all down, he realizes this is not the time. He cannot allow that very small pleasure. For me it was to play the desire not to be lonely, and allow someone to know me. I relate to that in my life. I know I desire to be loved, to be held.”

Esposito is also eligible at the Emmys in the Movie/Limited Actor category for his role as Leo Pap in the series “Kaleidoscope.” In the heist series, the first seven episodes were designed to be watched in any order. The actor reveals, “The effort that daunted me was to know where I was in every moment. I had the eight episodes and laid them all out on a very long table. I had to take a good look at all the scripts, then forget them and focus on what I’m doing right now.”

Esposito has also earned two Emmy nominations for playing villain Moth Gideon in “The Mandalorian.” For the third season of the “Star Wars” series, he returned with plans to take over Mandalor. He will compete at the Emmys in the Drama Guest Actor category. He says, “I love this villain. I walk on that set with my cape and, this year, the incredible armor and I believed it. I serves my ego to play Moth Gideon. It also heals it in a certain way. Because, where else could you get a chance to exemplify this kind of darkness? I believe all of us are partly light and partly dark. And I get a chance to be dark.”

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UPLOADED May 15, 2023 9:30 am