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A Man Provides
January 10, 2012 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Giancarlo Esposito, the actor currently known best as Gus Fring on Breaking Bad (and, of course, the veteran of many, many other roles), is doing an AMA on Reddit, and responding to some of the questions via his YouTube channel. [Presumably, spoilers for BB ahead.] He also explains this.
posted by Halloween Jack (55 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
He'll always be Ghiardello's son to me.
posted by jonmc at 1:13 PM on January 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


> [Presumably, spoilers for BB ahead.]

He requested that no spoilers be included in the AMA questions so presumably those will be downvoted into oblivion. I wonder if that also includes any work he's done for season five, because they are definitely going to give him some time there.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:15 PM on January 10, 2012


I divide my life into the period before I realized Gus Fring was also Buggin' Out, and the time afterwards.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:15 PM on January 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I anticipate spoilers of the last season of Breaking Bad lie herein, so please be forwarned.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:15 PM on January 10, 2012


I will avoid the spoilers as I am only partway through the fourth season of Breaking Bad -- three episodes in -- but I will say that he makes quite an impact. As of the end of episode 3, he is still an overwhelming force despite appearing for exactly one scene so far this season and speaking a total of eight words of dialogue (and only five of them onscreen). That is presence.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:16 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Last link is YouTube for those at work.
posted by sourwookie at 1:16 PM on January 10, 2012


Spoiler: Esposito on an airplane making chicken noises.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:18 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's YoYo! I vaguely recognized his name, but had a hard time placing his face after looking at his IMDb page. He's a member of that weird class of person who, in the process of aging, has seen very little change in any one of his facial features, but looks like a different man nevertheless. See also Jeff Bridges and maybe Max von Sydow.
posted by invitapriore at 1:19 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


PUT SOME BROTHERS UP ON THIS WALL OF FAME!!!
posted by porn in the woods at 1:27 PM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


The 'dude and I like to play a game where we take amazing character actors like Esposito and imagine that all their defining roles are part of the same character - from Buggin' Out to Agent Giardello to Gus Fring. What a life!
posted by muddgirl at 1:28 PM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


So where is this alleged explanation for the chicken-noise-making-on-an-airplane video? Can't seem to find it.
posted by eugenen at 1:31 PM on January 10, 2012


Look above.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:31 PM on January 10, 2012


Oh, sorry. Here's the explanation.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:33 PM on January 10, 2012


Jonathan Banks has quite a jam-packed screen life as well...
posted by mrgrimm at 1:33 PM on January 10, 2012


Bakersfield P.D. was comedic lightning in a bottle.
posted by PenDevil at 1:38 PM on January 10, 2012


My partner, who is awesome, bought me a Los Pollos Hermanos T-shirt for Christmas, because she is awesome.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:50 PM on January 10, 2012


Bonus news since Metafilter is temporarily fixating on Breaking Bad today: Aaron Paul is getting married and Bryan Cranston's going to be on the Archer season finale.
posted by heatvision at 1:57 PM on January 10, 2012


I don't visit Reddit very often, so am confused - I've scrolled down the whole huge page and there's hundreds and hundreds of questions but only one answer that I can see. Is there a 'show answered questions' button I've missed somewhere?
posted by jack_mo at 2:01 PM on January 10, 2012


Love the creation of Gus - a chilling and beautifully crafted from a master character actor. His insights via the youtube clips are great.

Another clip for those interested, is a great interview with Bryan Cranston where he explains his character and the character's motivations in detail.

"Would you take a hit to the face for $50,000?"
posted by greenhornet at 2:12 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's also one of the guys who shot Malcolm X.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:28 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


QUASI-SPOILER FOR LATEST SEASON...

One of the comments on reddit posits that Gus is "obviously gay" and that in this season's flashback where Gus and a partner meet with the Mexican cartel for the first time, the murdered partner was actually Gus' lover. To which I say, huh? I didn't see that at all. Am I alone in seeing Gus as prissy but hetero, or at least largely asexual?
posted by waraw at 2:30 PM on January 10, 2012


YO SAL! WE'RE GONNA BOYCOTT YOUR FAT PASTA ASS!!!
posted by porn in the woods at 2:34 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the comments on reddit posits that Gus is "obviously gay" and that in this season's flashback where Gus and a partner meet with the Mexican cartel for the first time, the murdered partner was actually Gus' lover.

Oooh, interesting thought. I can't remember if we ever find out why Gus is single.
posted by triggerfinger at 2:37 PM on January 10, 2012


Because he's too busy being badass all the fucking time.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:38 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please take a moment at the Gus Fring online memorial to reflect upon the life of this successful Albuquerque businessman. Even if you didn't enjoy his chicken (and other products), there's no denying his contributions to American popular cuisine and drug underworld. Truly an American icon.

(straightens tie, closes MacBook Air)
posted by porn in the woods at 2:41 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


We never find out about a lot of things re: Gus.

I'd really like to know about his role in Chile c. 1973. Was he victim or a perpetrator under Pinoche?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:42 PM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aah, here we go:

There was never any indication at all that Gus had any homosexual tendencies, other than episode 408. And I personally believe that nothing is ever black and white and I believe Gus had a way of cultivating people, whether chemists, school teachers, or as businessmen. I had long discussions with Vince Gilligan that it shouldn't be pointed up either way (and he agreed). And the audience should have to decide.

posted by triggerfinger at 2:44 PM on January 10, 2012


I made chronological as well as spelling errors in my question re: Chile (Gus would have been very young in 1973, and it's 'Pinochet'). I still wanna know this unknowable thing...
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 3:04 PM on January 10, 2012


One of my favorite things about Breaking Bad is how the writers have the conviction to leave questions like "What was up with Gus?" largely unanswered. It must have been incredibly tempting to explore Gus's history further, but I think that would have done a disservice to the character. In many ways, the Gus we see as viewers is the same Gus that characters in-world see. We are told of one weakness, and in the end that weakness destroys him. The fact that other weaknesses are left unexplored is uniquely incredible.
posted by muddgirl at 3:12 PM on January 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Was he victim or a perpetrator under Pinoche?

Most likely a perpetrator, or someone with deep connections that spread outside of Chile. Deep enough that his life is spared because of them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:17 PM on January 10, 2012


MacBook Air? It was a Samsung Laptop (probably running Debian).
One of my favorite things about Breaking Bad is how the writers have the conviction to leave questions like "What was up with Gus?" largely unanswered
Just finished watching season 4 and was kind of disappointed in the closing shot, considering the incredible discipline the writers showed throughout the first 4 series, it felt kind of cheap. So many wonderful moments though. On the you'll see what we want you to see angle, the scene where Gus visits Jesse and Mike in the diner and the camera moves with Jesse outside just as Gus asks Mike "how did he do?" was delicious.

Up there with the very best things I've seen on TV (State of Play, The Wire, Edge of Darkness, Threads etc. consistently incredible.)
posted by fullerine at 3:24 PM on January 10, 2012


Heh. I also came in to mention that Gus was rocking a Samsung laptop to monitor his security cameras.

Also, whatever Fring's backstory is in Chile, I'll wager that elements of it will come to haunt Walter White in season five.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:32 PM on January 10, 2012


MacBook Air? It was a Samsung Laptop (probably running Debian).

Yeah, that's a ref to the Gus memorial site biting design from Apple's S. Jobs tribute (he passed away around the same time as the BB season finale.

Not only did you knock me down, you stepped on my new white Air Jordans that I just bought and that's all you can say, "Excuse me?!?"
posted by porn in the woods at 3:34 PM on January 10, 2012


We are told of one weakness, and in the end that weakness destroys him.

I think Gus definitely has (had) more than one weakness.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:34 PM on January 10, 2012


>Most likely a perpetrator

Unless he was hardened by the mistreatment of his family under Pinoche...
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 3:38 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


As this is the more reddit-y of the Breaking Bad threads today, I am going to throw this link to Breaking Bad comics in here. The most recent ones are kind of lame, but there's good stuff in there. "Jesse get the beans" is my new catchphrase.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:39 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the dons in the Mexican Mafia referred to Fring as "the general" in an episode in season 3 (I think), so he is definitely not on team nice guy.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:41 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the dons in the Mexican Mafia referred to Fring as "the general"

I'd forgotten that (and again misspelled the other general's name).
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 4:34 PM on January 10, 2012


thanks so much for posting this. Huge fan of Eposito and the show.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:49 PM on January 10, 2012


I love both Esposito and the show, but as a native Spanish speaker I wish they hadn't had him speak Spanish. Shows like Dexter, where the characters codeswitch between English and Spanish seamlessly, prove it can be done, but the actors need to be fluent. For me and my friends, Esposito's stilted Spanish didn't pass muster.
posted by kandinski at 6:36 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dean Stockwell is doing an AMA right now.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:04 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite things about Breaking Bad is how the writers have the conviction to leave questions like "What was up with Gus?" largely unanswered. It must have been incredibly tempting to explore Gus's history further, but I think that would have done a disservice to the character. In many ways, the Gus we see as viewers is the same Gus that characters in-world see. We are told of one weakness, and in the end that weakness destroys him. The fact that other weaknesses are left unexplored is uniquely incredible.

(SPOILERS REGARDING THE RECENT SEASON OF BB)



Well, even though his character is dead in real time on the show, I have a feeling his past is going to have an effect on the plot. Somebody, somewhere is going to be pissed that he was blown up.

But yeah, I like that the writers and producers don't force black and white truths on us, the viewers. Gus' sexuality is a subject left open for discussion, but I did get the feeling there was something deeper than a business partner dying in that pool in Mexico. Also, they made it clear that he cared a lot for Gale, another character who's sexuality was never defined but who ... well, they definitely strongly implied that he was gay.
posted by mannequito at 8:03 PM on January 10, 2012


How does his Spanish sound to non speakers? For me and my wife every scene where he speaks Spanish is ruined. In one if the videos he says it was hard to do a Chilean accent. That was no Chilean accent, it was horrible.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 8:07 PM on January 10, 2012


How does his Spanish sound to non speakers? For me and my wife every scene where he speaks Spanish is ruined. In one if the videos he says it was hard to do a Chilean accent. That was no Chilean accent, it was horrible.

Actors working in a second language (or, more to the point, working phonetically) is one of those fascinating things to me, because I think non-speakers are sold (or not) on the strength of the physical portrayal...but speakers may get something else entirely (and it's usually not an improvement). I remember reading that Sonny Chiba heard Uma Thurman butcher her Japanese dialogue on Kill Bill and basically made it his mission to make her sound convincing, though I'm hardly qualified to know whether that was successful. And on the other hand, Takashi Miike (who doesn't speak English) cast American actor Billy Drago as the lead in his (English language) "Masters of Horror" episode -- and the results were...mixed at best. If you close your eyes and just listen to Drago, his performance is melodramatic and pained, but if you watch him, he's fantastic. Miike, of course, had no way of knowing just how much his lead was hamming it up (prompting me to wonder how many times we may see a foreign-language film and perhaps overrate an actor's performance).

In any case, Esposito was fantastic to me, a non-Spanish speaker. I was shocked when I read that he wasn't fluent in Spanish, less because his accent was convincing (how would I know?) than just because I can't imagine memorizing pages and pages of dialogue I couldn't understand, much less acting against people who were speaking to me in that language.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:01 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I enjoyed about season four was how I often liked and respected Gus more than Walt, and I read an interview with Vince Gilligan that mentions it was pretty much intentional. But I think this comment sums it up my feelings pretty well. (And I had that link all ready to go before I even noticed who posted the comment before mine in this thread haha)
posted by palidor at 9:17 PM on January 10, 2012


Whoops, referring to kittens for breakfast's comment in the previous thread, I was talking about his last paragraph, which illustrates how Walt may be more evil than Gus. We want the protagonist to win, but maybe the bad guy isn't the one who loses.
posted by palidor at 9:23 PM on January 10, 2012


A. How much money would it take for you to eat a bowl of shit?

B. How come there're no brutha's up on the wall?
posted by ShutterBun at 2:04 AM on January 11, 2012


I did kind of get a more-than-business-partners vibe from the poolside scene but I kind of feel like it was the right decision to never spell it out. Gus works best as a character we don't really know anything about, someone who presents a carefully constructed image to the world and then another image to his fellow criminals which is no less carefully constructed.

The pool scene also got me thinking that as much as I love Breaking Bad, I sort of sat down and thought about it and realized there aren't any gay characters on the show that I can remember. I don't mean positive gay characters (because there are vanishingly few characters on the show who aren't slightly awful people in some way) but any gay characters at all. But my memory isn't that great, and also I was drawing while I watched it so I may have missed something.

Not that I think it's a problem - just something I noticed.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:05 AM on January 11, 2012


I think Gus definitely has (had) more than one weakness.

Sure, given that he's human. What I mean is that the writers only show us one little slice of his past, and how that slice affects some of the choices that he makes and the final consequence of those choices. They could have shown us a lot more but they (rightly) didn't.

He's such a buttoned-up character - almost inhuman at times - and he excecutes everything so carefully (I'm reminded of the episode where he takes Jesse to the cartel in Mexico and he's got a field hospital all prepared and stocked) and in the end he's brought down by such human emotions (pride, vengeance).
posted by muddgirl at 8:56 AM on January 11, 2012


Argh I stopped short:

When I said that he had one weakness which lead to his end, I'm talking about pride. He could have killed Hector Salamanca at any time during his drug war, or he could have let his henchmen do so quickly and quietly after it appeared like he was talking to the DEA. But seemed to have a driving need to reverse the humiliation of Max's death - to be the powerful rather than the powerless. I think the first time he reveals it is when he kills Victor, the second is when he takes Don Eladio's necklace to Hector and taunts him with the death of his family, and the third is when he insists on being the one to kill Hector, even though he perhaps knows that Hector will not give him the satisfaction of 'breaking' and showing regret or remorse or even fear.

Not coincidentally, Walt also has a pretty big problem with letting pride get in the way of making safe decisions.
posted by muddgirl at 9:07 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's occurred to me a number of times, having watched all four seasons of the show in the last week (omg (oh and should I mention the pair of BB posts yesterday were wonderfully timed?)), that more than the show just being about Walt's moral descent, it's really about his moral descent via his pride. Just about every "wrong" decision he makes, after we've abandoned the pretense that he does what he does for his family, is motivated by his invigorated sense of pride. They really emphasize that point by having him angry that Jesse would "steal" his formula, even though it's all just chemistry. But once again I think Walt is the worse sinner than Gus here, and if the show really does have a sense of divine justice, Walt will be similarly undone by his pride in some poetic way.
posted by palidor at 9:33 AM on January 11, 2012


Heck, for me it starts in the pilot episode, when Walt is humiliated at his night job and after his diagnosis quits in a particular fashion. (And I love how the writers turn that around once again when Skylar approaches the car wash owner in S4).
posted by muddgirl at 9:45 AM on January 11, 2012


A few nights ago I watched Night on Earth again for the first time in years. I knew I recognized the guy in New York, but it took me a bit to realize that it was Esposito. He really is a great actor.
posted by homunculus at 11:02 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did kind of get a more-than-business-partners vibe from the poolside scene but I kind of feel like it was the right decision to never spell it out.

Ditto and ditto. I thought it was handled well, but without any other evidence but what we've seen through 4 seasons, I always considered Gus to be gay.

In any case, Esposito was fantastic to me, a non-Spanish speaker. I was shocked when I read that he wasn't fluent in Spanish, less because his accent was convincing ...

As a non-Spanish speaker (as much as a California resident can be with gracias, por favor, and de nada, etc.), the accent was a major failure. Otherwise, it's a great performance, but every time he speaks Spanish it sounds like he has memorized the syllables phonetically. There is no phrasing whatsoever. Justmy2c, but it really ruins the characterization and throws me out of his performance.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another non-Spanish speaker here, didn't notice anything off when he spoke that language.
posted by aerotive at 4:17 PM on January 11, 2012


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