‘Better Call Saul’ Star Giancarlo Esposito Reveals How He Crafted His Gus Fring Character

by Suzanne Halliburton

Call it the fine art of intimidation. Gus Fring could scare you to death on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul with just a fierce look.

It was all about the painful, awkward, squirmy silence. That’s how the meek-looking Gus kept his people in line as he operated the fast-food chicken chain, Los Pollos Hermanos. We all know that it was Gus’ cover as a high-powered drug lord.

We all thought we’d seen the last of Gustavo Fring on Breaking Bad when Walter White finally exacted his revenge. But Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad prequel, brought Gus back.

Giancarlo Esposito, who gave Gus to all of us, explained how it all worked during an appearance Monday on the Late, Late Show with James Corden. In fact, as Esposito talked, he put a chill through Corden.

“I had some instincts,” said Esposito about the creation of Gus. “I had a lot of questions, but my instinct was to play against the stereotype, make this guy someone who observed more than he spoke. That’s why the silences that come between the lines I say are so penetrating.

“I have this theory that people get uncomfortable when you take them in.” said one of the Better Call Saul stars. “When you drink them in completely, they really feel … a little bit intimidated by you. So I can see everything about you right now. I’m looking right through you. I want to tell you I’m going to leave you alone, this time, and this time only. “

Esposito tweeted the interview clip with the caption “did my intimidation work?” (Yes, yes it did).

He also wrote “had a blast night night on the Late, Late Show! … Great company, great time. Thanks for having me.”

The anticipation is building for the final half of the final season for Better Call Saul. It’s currently on a mid-season break. But it will return to AMC July 11 and end Aug. 15. In Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk’s character still is going by the name, Jimmy McGill. He changed his name to Saul Goodman by the time he started dealing with Walter White on Breaking Bad.

The prequel allowed viewers to revisit some of their favorite Breaking Bad characters. Jonathan Banks returned as Mike. There’s Gus. And in the final part of Better Call Saul, Bryan Cranston (Walt) and Aaron Paul (Jesse) will resurrect their characters.

Better Call Saul cast members joke around at Paley Fest in April. (Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

In a recent interview, Odenkirk said it was “so good, seeing Bryan and Aaron playing Walt and Jesse. It’s not just one time… And it was great.”

According to Cranston, he and Paul shot scenes for Better Call Saul 18 months ago. It’s not clear if the two will appear in more than one episode. Maybe Gus will have another opportunity for a stare-down.

And who knows, perhaps there will be more opportunities to see Gus Fring. Esposito said he’d be open to a spinoff.

“The last days [on set of Better Call Saul], I’m tearing up and looking over my shoulder and I hear Vince say, ‘You never know,’” Esposito said back in April. “And so, I’ve always wanted, and felt like, there’s room for material for the rise of Gus. I feel like it’d be interesting to know where he came from.”