Giancarlo Esposito

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Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito (born April 26, 1958) is a Danish-born American actor and director. He is best known for portraying Gus Fring in the AMC crime drama series Breaking Bad, from 2009 to 2011, and in its prequel series Better Call Saul, from 2017 to 2022. For this role, he won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and earned three nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Esposito's other television roles include Federal Agent Mike Giardello in the NBC police drama series Homicide: Life on the Street (1998-1999), Sidney Glass / Magic Mirror in the ABC supernatural drama series Once Upon a Time (2011-2017), Tom Neville in the NBC science-fiction series Revolution (2012-2014), Dr. Edward Ruskins in the Netflix comedy-drama series Dear White People (2017-2021), Stan Edgar in the Amazon Prime Video superhero drama series The Boys (2019-present) and The Boys Presents: Diabolical (2022-present), and Moff Gideon in the Disney+ space western drama series The Mandalorian (2019-present), the lattermost of which earned him two Primetime Emmy Award nominations. +more He also portrayed American Baptist pastor and politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in the TV series Godfather of Harlem (2019-present) and appeared in Westworld (2016). Esposito voices antagonist Faraday in the Netflix anime series Cyberpunk: Edgerunners (2022). Esposito also voices Antón Castillo, the main antagonist of the video game Far Cry 6, who was modeled after Esposito's appearance. He was also included in the videogame Payday 2, as "The Dentist".

He is also known for his appearances in several Spike Lee films, such as School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo' Better Blues (1990), and Malcolm X (1992). Esposito's other major films include Taps (1981), King of New York (1990), Bob Roberts (1990), Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991), Fresh (1994), The Usual Suspects (1995), Ali (2001), Last Holiday (2006), Gospel Hill (2008), Rabbit Hole (2010), Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), Money Monster (2016), Okja (2017), Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018), and Stargirl (2020).

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Early life

Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of Giovanni "John" C. Esposito (1931-2002), an Italian stagehand and carpenter from Naples, and Elizabeth "Leesa" Foster (1926-2017), an African American opera and nightclub singer from Alabama.

When Esposito was six, his family moved to Manhattan. He attended Elizabeth Seton College in New York and earned a two-year degree in radio and television communications.

Career

Esposito made his Broadway debut in 1968, playing an enslaved child opposite Shirley Jones in the short-lived musical Maggie Flynn (1968), set during the New York Draft Riots of 1863. He was also a member of the youthful cast of the Stephen Sondheim-Harold Prince collaboration Merrily We Roll Along, which closed with 16 performances and 56 previews in 1981.

During the 1980s, Esposito appeared in films such as Maximum Overdrive, King of New York, and Trading Places. He also performed in TV shows such as Miami Vice and Spenser: For Hire. +more He played J. C. Pierce, a cadet in the 1981 movie Taps.

In 1988, he landed his breakout role as the leader ("Dean Big Brother Almighty") of the black fraternity "Gamma Phi Gamma" in director Spike Lee's film School Daze, exploring color relations at black colleges. Over the next four years, Esposito and Lee collaborated on three other movies: Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, and Malcolm X. +more During the 1990s, Esposito appeared in the acclaimed indie films Night on Earth, Fresh and Smoke, as well as its sequel Blue in the Face. He also appeared in the mainstream films Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man with Mickey Rourke, Reckless with Mia Farrow, and Waiting to Exhale starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. In 1996, Esposito was featured in a music video "California" by French superstar Mylène Farmer, directed by Abel Ferrara.

Esposito played FBI agent Mike Giardello on the TV crime drama Homicide: Life on the Street. That role drew from both his African American and Italian ancestry. +more He played this character during the show's seventh and final season, and reprised the role for its 2000 made-for-TV movie. He had another multiracial role as Sergeant Paul Gigante in the television comedy, Bakersfield P. D. .

In 1997, Esposito played the film roles of Darryl in Trouble on the Corner and Charlie Dunt in Nothing to Lose. Other TV credits include NYPD Blue, Law & Order, The Practice, New York Undercover, and Fallen Angels: Fearless.

Esposito has portrayed drug dealers (Fresh, Breaking Bad, King of New York, Better Call Saul), policemen (The Usual Suspects, Derailed), political radicals (Bob Roberts, Do the Right Thing), and a demonic version of the Greek God of Sleep Hypnos from another dimension (Monkeybone). In 2001, he played +more'>Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. in Ali, and Miguel Algarín, friend and collaborator of Nuyorican poet Miguel Piñero, in Piñero.

In 2002, Esposito was cast as a legal eagle in the David E. +more Kelley television drama Girls Club. Although the series only lasted one season, and did not garner generally positive reviews, it represented a personal turning point for Esposito, who relayed to The Washington Post: "I started to play bosses. And I realized, 'Oh, okay, this is an opportunity. ' It was really a great opening for me to show who I really was. And it's kept going like that. ".

In 2005, Esposito played an unsympathetic detective named Esposito in the film Hate Crime, which centers upon homophobia as a theme.

In 2006, Esposito starred in Last Holiday as Senator Dillings, alongside Queen Latifah and Timothy Hutton. Esposito played Robert Fuentes, a Miami businessman with shady connections, on the UPN television series South Beach. +more He appeared in New Amsterdam and CSI: Miami. In Feel the Noise (2007), he played ex-musician Roberto, the Puerto Rican father of Omarion Grandberry's character, aspiring rap star "Rob". In 2008, he made his directorial debut with Gospel Hill, serving also as producer and star of the film.

New York theater credits for Esposito include The Me Nobody Knows, Lost in the Stars, Seesaw, and Merrily We Roll Along. In 2008, he appeared on Broadway as Gooper in an African American production of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Debbie Allen and starring James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, and Terrence Howard.

From 2009 to 2011, Esposito appeared in seasons 2 through 4 of the AMC drama Breaking Bad, as Gus Fring, the head of a New Mexico-based methamphetamine drug ring. In the fourth season, he was the show's primary antagonist, and won critical acclaim for this role. +more He won the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama award at the 2012 Critics' Choice Television Awards and was nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series award at the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards, but lost to co-star Aaron Paul.

Esposito appeared in the film Rabbit Hole (2010). He also appeared in the first season of the ABC program Once Upon a Time, which debuted in October 2011. +more He portrayed the split role of Sidney Glass, a reporter for The Daily Mirror in the town of Storybrooke, Maine, who is really a genie trapped in the Magic Mirror, possessed by The Evil Queen in a parallel fairy tale world. Esposito would periodically reprise the role in later seasons as a guest star. Esposito appeared in Revolution as Major Tom Neville, a central character who kills Ben Matheson in the pilot. He escorts a captured Danny to the capital Philadelphia of the Monroe Republic.

Esposito also appeared in Community as a guest star for the episode titled "Digital Estate Planning". He performed again in the fourth season, in the episode titled "Paranormal Parentage". +more Esposito has additionally appeared in a video of the action role-playing sci-fi first-person shooter game Destiny, as well as plays The Dentist, a non-playable story character, in the game Payday 2.

He has joined the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series. He played Ra's al Ghul in Son of Batman and Eric Needham / Black Spider in Batman: Assault on Arkham. +more He also had a recurring role in the first season of The Get Down on Netflix. In 2017, Esposito reprised his role as Gus Fring in the Breaking Bad prequel series, Better Call Saul. In 2019, he appeared in the first-season finale of The Boys as Stan Edgar, and reprised the role in the second and third season.

In 2016, Esposito voiced Akela in the film The Jungle Book, which was directed by Jon Favreau. Esposito and Favreau would work together once again in the Disney+ series The Mandalorian in which Esposito appears in a starring role, while Favreau acts as an executive producer for the series and as its writer. +more He plays the role of New York congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in the 2019 Epix series Godfather of Harlem.

In July 2020, Esposito began teasing his role in "a huge video game". His role was later revealed as the main antagonist of Ubisoft's Far Cry 6, in which he would portray and voice Antón Castillo, the dictatorial ruler of Yara.

Personal life

Esposito was married to Joy McManigal. They have four daughters. They subsequently divorced.

He was raised Catholic and considered becoming a priest.

Filmography

Film

YearTitleRoleNotes
1970Et Salammbo?Short film Voice
1979RunningPuerto Rican Teenager
1979Tutti a squola
1980The ChangelingExtra
1981TapsCadet Captain JC Pierce
1983Trading PlacesCellmate #2
1983Enormous Changes at the Last MinuteJulio
1984The Brother from Another PlanetMan Getting Arrested
1984The Cotton ClubBumpy Hood
1984Go Tell It on the MountainElisha
1985Desperately Seeking SusanStreet Vendor
1986Maximum OverdriveVideoplayer
1987Sweet LorraineHowie
1987HeartbeatGang Member #1Direct-to-video
1988School DazeJulian
1989Do the Right ThingBuggin' Out
1990King of New YorkLance
1990Mo' Better BluesLeft Hand Lacey
1991Harley Davidson and the Marlboro ManJimmy Jiles
1991Night on EarthYoYo
1992Bob RobertsJohn Alijah "Bugs" Raplin
1992Malcolm XThomas Hagan
1993Amos & AndrewReverend Fenton Brunch
1993Seven Songs for Malcolm XAutobiography ReadingDocumentary Voice
1994FreshEsteban
1994BendersJack
1995The Usual SuspectsJack Baer
1995SmokeOTB Man #1 / Tommy Finelli
1995Blue in the FaceTommy Finelli
1995RecklessTim Timko
1995The KeeperPaul LamontAlso co-producer
1995KlashStoney
1995Waiting to ExhaleDavid Matthews
1997The MazeHenry Kunitz
1997Nothing to LoseCharlie Dunt
1997Loose WomenStylist #2
1997Trouble on the CornerDarryl
1997Big City BluesGeorgie
1997The PeopleAnthony Rivera
1998TwilightReuben Escobar
1998PhoenixLouie
1998Where's Marlowe?Blind Man
1998StardustMr. Peavy
2001JosephineSpike
2001MonkeyboneHypnos
2001PiñeroMiguel Algarín
2001Ali+more'>Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.
2003Ash TuesdayKarl
2003Blind HorizonJC Reynolds
2004NoiseHank
2004Doing Hard TimeCaptain PierceDirect-to-video
2004A Killer WithinVargas
2005Hate CrimeDet. Esposito
2005Chupacabra: Dark SeasDr. PeñaDirect-to-video
2005I Will Avenge You, Iago!Director
2005Back in the DayBenson Copper
2005Carlito's Way: Rise to PowerLittle JeffDirect-to-video
2005DerailedDetective Franklin Church
2006Last HolidaySenator Dillings
2006SherrybabyParole Officer Hernandez
2006RainKen Arnold
2007Racing DaylightFred / Drifter
2007The BoxDetective Dwayne Burkhalter
2007Feel the NoiseRoberto
2007ManoNinoShort film
2008Gospel HillDr. PalmerAlso director and producer
2010Rabbit HoleAuggie
2011S. W. A. T. : FirefightInspector HollanderDirect-to-DVD
2011Dreaming AmericanDaytona LeMansShort film
2011CertaintyFather Heery
2012Alex CrossDaramus Holiday
2013They Die by DawnIsom DartShort film
2014Son of BatmanRa's al GhulDirect-to-DVD Voice
2014Batman: Assault on ArkhamEric Needham / Black SpiderDirect-to-DVD Voice
2014Poker NightBernard
2015Maze Runner: The Scorch TrialsJorge
2015I Did Not Forget YouDr. SabianShort film
2016The Pills - Sempre meglio che lavorareBangla Boss
2016The Jungle BookAkelaVoice
2016Money MonsterCaptain Marcus Powell
2016Brother NatureCongressman Frank McClaren
2017The ShowMason WashingtonAlso director and producer
2017StuckLloydAlso associate producer
2017OkjaFrank Dawson
2017MFKZMr. KEnglish dub
2018Maze Runner: The Death CureJorge
2019CodaPaul
2019Line of DutyTom Volk
2020StargirlArchie Brubaker
2020UnpregnantBob
2022BeautyBeauty's Father
2024The Electric StateMarshall (voice)Filming
TBAThe Long HomeWilliam Tell OliverPost-production
.

Television

YearTitleRoleNotes
1981The Gentleman BanditJamieTelevision film
1982Another WorldWillie ArmstrongEpisode: "Episode #1. 4498"
1982-1983Guiding LightClay TynanRegular cast
1982-1984Sesame StreetMickey7 episodes
1984-1985Miami ViceLuther / Ricky / Adonis Jackson3 episodes
1985CBS Schoolbreak SpecialKyleEpisode: "The Exchange Student"
1985Finnegan Begin AgainIntruderTelevision film
1985-1986American PlayhouseElisha / Simon Fernandes2 episodes
1986RockabyeMarcusTelevision film
1986The EqualizerJumpin' JackEpisode: "The Line"
1987Spenser: For HireRamosEpisode: "On the Night He Was Betrayed"
1987Leg WorkTysonEpisode: "Blind Trust"
1990LifestoriesJulioEpisode: "Jerry Forchette"
1993Relentless: Mind of a KillerArthur SistrunkTelevision film
1993The American ExperienceDr. +more Kenneth ClarkEpisode: "Simple Justice"
1993-1994Bakersfield P. D. Detective Paul Gigante17 episodes
1995New York UndercoverAdolfo Guzman3 episodes
1995Fallen AngelsParis MintonEpisode: "Fearless"
1996Chicago HopeCherchez LaFemmeEpisode: "Right to Life"
1996Swift JusticeAndrew Coffin3 episodes
1996Living SingleJackson TurnerEpisode: "Kiss of the Spider Man"
1996Law & OrderMr. BaylorEpisode: "Good Girl"
1996The Tomorrow ManJonathan DriscollTelevision film
1996-1998NYPD BlueFerdinand Hollie / Jamaal2 episodes
1996-1999Nash BridgesArnold / Gordon Keller / Whip Tyrell2 episodes
1997Five Desperate HoursJoseph GrangeTelevision film
1998The HungerVampireEpisode: "Fly-By-Night"
1998CreatureLt. Thomas Peniston / WerewolfMiniseries
1998Naked City: Justice with a BulletChaz VillanuevaTelevision film
1998ThirstDr. Lawrence CarverTelevision film
1998-1999Homicide: Life on the StreetFederal Agent Mike Giardello22 episodes
2000Homicide: The MovieOfficer Mike GiardelloTelevision film
2000Touched by an AngelAntonioEpisode: "Here I Am"
2000-2001The $treetTom Divack12 episodes
2001Strong MedicineJames 'Junior' BellEpisode: "Mortality"
2001100 Centre StreetJacob LenzEpisode: "Andromeda and the Monster"
2002The PracticeRay McMurphyEpisode: "Pro Se"
2002Third WatchFather RomeroEpisode: "The Unforgiven"
2002A Nero Wolfe MysteryAmbassador Theodore KelefyEpisode: "Immune to Murder"
2002Girls ClubNicholas Hahn9 episodes
2003The DivisionDr. PembrokeEpisode: "Wish You Were Here"
2003LuckyLord MarionEpisode: "The Method"
2003Street TimeJesse HaslimEpisode: "Brothers"
2004Half & HalfDarrell WashingtonEpisode: "The Big Employee Benefits Episode"
2004Soul FoodJules2 episodes
20045ive Days to MidnightTim Sanders5 episodes
2004NYPD 2069Lt GarnerPilot
2004-2005Law & OrderRodney Fallon3 episodes
2005Law & Order: Trial by JuryOrlando RamirezEpisode: "Boys Will Be Boys"
2006South BeachRobert Fuentes8 episodes
2006Ghost WhispererEly FisherEpisode: "Fury"
2006BonesRichard BenoitEpisode: "The Man in the Morgue"
2006Dr. VegasEpisode: "For Love or Money"
2006Las VegasReggie ArchibaldEpisode: "White Christmas"
2006-2008CSI: MiamiChief Braga2 episodes
2007KidnappedVance2 episodes
2008New AmsterdamSpecial Agent James LawsonEpisode: "Legacy"
2008XenophobiaYoungTelevision film
2009-2011Breaking BadGustavo Fring26 episodes
2010LeverageAlexander MotoEpisode: "The Scheherazade Job"
2010Lie to MeBeau HackmanEpisode: "Black and White"
2010Detroit 1-8-7Eddie HendersonEpisode: "Shelter"
2011Criminal Minds: Suspect BehaviorGordon RamirezEpisode: "The Time is Now"
2011-2017Once Upon a TimeSidney Glass / Magic Mirror14 episodes
2012NYC 22Harvey Williams2 episodes
2012-2013CommunityGilbert Lawson2 episodes
2012-2014RevolutionLt. Tom Neville42 episodes
2013Over / UnderOliver OhrtTelevision film
2013Revolution: Enemies of the StateLt. Tom NevilleTelevision shorts
2013Axe CopArmy ChihuahuaEpisode: "Night Mission: Stealing Friends Back" Voice
2013Timms ValleyPruit NormingsEpisode: "Pilot" Voice
201430 for 30NarratorEpisode: "Requiem for the Big East" Voice
2015AllegianceOscar Christoph7 episodes
2015Drunk HistoryAndrés PicoEpisode: "Los Angeles"
2016-2017The Get DownPastor Ramon Cruz10 episodes
2017RebelCharles Gold4 episodes
2017-2019Dear White PeopleDr. Edward Ruskins / The Narrator23 episodes
2017-2022Better Call SaulGustavo Fring34 episodes Director (Episode: "Axe and Grind")
2018WestworldEl LazoEpisode: "Reunion"
2018Dallas & RoboVictor Goldsmith5 episodes Voice
2019JettCharlie Baudelaire9 episodes
2019CreepshowDocEpisode: "Gray Matter"
2019-presentHarley QuinnLex Luthor5 episodes Voice
2019-presentThe BoysStan Edgar9 episodes
2019-presentThe MandalorianMoff Gideon7 episodes
2019-presentGodfather of HarlemAdam Clayton Powell Jr. 17 episodes
2020Home Movie: The Princess BrideThe GrandfatherEpisode: "Life Is Pain"
2020-2021DuckTalesPhantom Blot3 episodes Voice
2022The Boys Presents: DiabolicalStan EdgarEpisode: "One Plus One Equals Two" Voice
2022Cyberpunk: EdgerunnersFaraday6 episodes English dub Voice
2023ParishVinceUpcoming series
TBAJigsawLeo PapUpcoming series
.

Video games

YearTitleVoice roleNotes
2014Payday 2The Dentist / Dr. HelmannLikeness and vocal performance
2021Far Cry 6"El Presidente" Anton CastilloLikeness, vocal performance, and motion capture performance

Other work

YearTitleRoleNotes
2013The Law of The JungleFatherTrailer for the video game Destiny
2017Unacknowledged: An Expose of the World's Greatest SecretNarrator
2020Game ChangerHimselfEpisode: "Ham It Up"
2021Vought News Network: Seven on 7 with Cameron ColemanStan EdgarGuest role; web series promoting The Boys Voice

Awards and nominations

YearAssociationCategoryNominated workResult
1995Independent Spirit AwardsBest Supporting MaleFreshNominated
1995National Board of ReviewBest CastThe Usual SuspectsWon
1999NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesHomicide: Life on the StreetNominated
2011NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesBreaking BadNominated
2011Saturn AwardsBest Guest Starring Role on TelevisionBreaking BadNominated
2012Critics' Choice Television AwardsBest Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesBreaking BadWon
2012Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesBreaking BadNominated
2012Satellite AwardsBest Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television FilmBreaking BadNominated
2012Saturn AwardsBest Supporting Actor on TelevisionBreaking BadNominated
2012Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesBreaking BadNominated
2013Saturn AwardsBest Supporting Actor on TelevisionRevolutionNominated
2019Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesBetter Call SaulNominated
2019Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesBetter Call SaulNominated
2020Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesBetter Call SaulNominated
2020Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesThe MandalorianNominated
2021Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesBetter Call SaulNominated
2021MTV Movie & TV AwardsBest VillainThe MandalorianNominated
2021Saturn AwardsBest Guest Starring Role on TelevisionThe MandalorianNominated
2021Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesThe MandalorianNominated
2021The Game AwardsBest PerformanceFar Cry 6Nominated
2022New York Game Awards 2022Great White Way Award for Best Overall Acting in a GameFar Cry 6Nominated
2022Hollywood Critics Association TV AwardsBest Supporting Actor in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, DramaBetter Call SaulWon

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