The Emmy-nominated Giancarlo Esposito will be making his anticipated return to AMC tonight for Better Call Saul, the prequel series to Breaking Bad. Fans know how restaurateur, industrial laundry tycoon, and drug kingpin Gus Fring met his end in the acclaimed series, but now we’ll get to see how the Chilean mastermind got his start. Or at least where he was a few years before Walter White waltzed into his life.
In an extensive chat with EW ahead of tonight’s Season 3 episode “Witness”, Esposito laid bare why he chose to return to the role, how the timing of Better Call Saul will work out regarding Fring, just how much we’ll see of his formative years, and how he’ll cross paths with other familiar faces of Breaking Bad. We’ve pulled some of Esposito’s best quotes below to give you a taste of what’s to come with Fring’s return.
Here’s how Esposito described the somewhat lengthy process of deciding to return as Gustavo Fring and whether or not the character’s original, explosive end gave him pause:
It’s not because of the ending; it really is because I didn’t really know how Gus would fit into a show about Saul. I knew that Saul was conceived as a comedy and then got to be a dramedy. Loved the show, loved what Bob does, didn’t know how Gus would fit into it. So I heard, like the public, rumors that Gus might come to the show. And I got a phone call of inquiry: Would I be willing?
I said I’d be willing predicated on a conversation with Vince [Gilligan, Breaking Bad‘s creator who created Saul with Peter Gould] … I respect Vince very, very deeply as I do Peter Gould and all the writers who helped to make Saul a hit in and of itself, outside of Breaking Bad. He assured me that they were going to find the way that would be intriguing and interesting, and I said if that could happen I would come back. It had to be for more than one episode. I’m imagining what Vince was thinking is to take it up to where we begin in Breaking Bad — possibly.
Esposito joked, with almost certainly some degree of sincerity, about a spinoff series titled The Rise of Gus, but here’s how he sees his character fitting into the prequel:
But [Better Call Saul] is really weaving in a show about Saul with dangerous elements which, of course, Gus can show you … Gus is primarily a mystery, which means that mystery has to unfold in a slow-burn manner. Of course we want to know more about Gus, of course it has to be balanced with Saul, and I think they’ll do it brilliantly.
What excited me specifically was my own imagination about who Gus was six years prior to us meeting him. Who is that guy? I want to chart his rise in a specific way. In other words, maybe the possibility of having him be more vulnerable and less maniacal and obviously in control but also very scheduled out. He has a very big brain. It’s the big brain that creates the business, or several businesses like this. So that’s what intrigued me — that I could find some other delicate areas of Gus to unveil to the public, and people would go, “Oh, yeah! Right! He’s younger, he’s more brash. There’s a different kind of balance in a younger man and a man who’s also in the prime of charting his plan.”