Giancarlo Esposito

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Giancarlo Esposito
Giancarlo Esposito SXSW 2017 (cropped).jpg
Esposito at the 2017 South by Southwest
Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito

(1958-04-26) April 26, 1958 (age 62)
Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
Years active1966–present
Spouse(s)Joy McManigal
(m. 1995; div. 2015)

Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito (Italian pronunciation: [dʒaŋˈkarlo dʒuˈsɛppe alesˈsandro eˈspɔːsito]) is a Danish-born American actor and director. He is best known for portraying Gus Fring in the AMC drama series Breaking Bad (2009–2011) and Better Call Saul (2017–present), for which he won a Critics' Choice Television Award 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 drama series Revolution (2012–2014), Dr. Edward Ruskins in the Netflix comedy-drama series Dear White People (2017–present), and Moff Gideon in the Disney+ space western drama series The Mandalorian (2019–present), the lattermost of which earned him a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.

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 King of New York (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), The Jungle Book (2016), Money Monster (2016), Okja (2017), Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018), and Stargirl (2020).

Early life[edit]

Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito was born in Copenhagen, the son of Giovanni "John" C. Esposito C. (1931–2002), an Italian stagehand and carpenter from Naples, and Elizabeth "Leesa" Foster (1926–2017), an African-American opera and nightclub singer from Alabama.[1][2][3][4]

When Esposito was six, his family moved from Copenhagen, Denmark to Manhattan, New York. He attended Elizabeth Seton College in New York and earned a two-year degree in radio and television communications.[5]


Esposito made his Broadway debut at age eight, playing a slave child opposite Shirley Jones in the short-lived musical Maggie Flynn (1968), set during the New York Draft Riots of 1863.[6] 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 Taps, Maximum Overdrive, King of New York, and Trading Places. He also performed in TV shows such as Miami Vice and Spenser: For Hire. He played J. C. Pierce, a cadet in the 1981 movie Taps.[7]

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. 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 film Reckless with Mia Farrow, and Waiting to Exhale starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. In 1995 Esposito was featured in a music video "California" by French superstar Mylene Farmer, directed by Abel Ferrara.

Esposito in 1998

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. He played this character during the show's seventh and final season. Mike's estranged father, shift lieutenant Al Giardello, is portrayed as subject to racism, something Esposito's character practiced in School Daze. Another multiracial role was 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 Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. in Ali, and Miguel Algarín, friend and collaborator of Nuyorican poet Miguel Piñero, in Piñero.

In 2006 Esposito starred in Last Holiday as Senator Dillings, alongside Queen Latifah and Timothy Hutton. Also in 2006, he played an unsympathetic detective named Esposito in the 2005 film Hate Crime. The film explores homophobia.

Esposito played Robert Fuentes, a Miami businessman with shady connections, on the UPN television series South Beach. He has 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".

He made his directorial debut with Gospel Hill (2008); he also produced the film and starred in it.

Esposito at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con

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.[citation needed]

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. He received critical acclaim for this role. 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.

He appeared in the film Rabbit Hole (2010).

Esposito appeared in the first season of the ABC program Once Upon a Time, which debuted in October 2011. He portrayed the split role of Sidney, a reporter for The Daily Mirror in the town of Storybrooke, Maine, who is the Magic Mirror, possessed by The Evil Queen in a parallel fairy tale world.[8]

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.[9]

Esposito also appeared in Community as a guest star for the episode entitled "Digital Estate Planning". He performed again in the fourth season, in the episode titled "Paranormal Parentage".[10] 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 Black Spider in Batman: Assault on Arkham. He 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; he will reprise the character, in a more prominent role, in the second season.[11]

In 2016, Esposito voiced Akela in the film The Jungle Book, which was directed by Jon Favreau.[12] Esposito and Favreau would work together once again in the web 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.[13] He plays the role of NY 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".[14] His role was later revealed as the main antagonist of Ubisoft's Far Cry 6, in which he would portray and voice Anton Castillo, the dictatorial ruler of Yara.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Esposito married Joy McManigal in 1995; they later divorced. He has four daughters.[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1979 Running Puerto Rican Teenager
1981 Taps Cadet Captain JC Pierce
1983 Trading Places Cellmate
1983 Enormous Changes at the Last Minute Julio
1984 Go Tell It on the Mountain Elisha
1984 The Cotton Club Bumpy Hood
1985 Desperately Seeking Susan Street Vendor
1986 Maximum Overdrive Videoplayer
1987 Sweet Lorraine Howie
1988 School Daze Julian
1989 Do the Right Thing Buggin' Out
1990 Mo' Better Blues Left Hand Lacey
1990 King of New York Lance
1991 Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man Jimmy Jiles
1991 Night on Earth YoYo
1992 Bob Roberts John Alijah "Bugs" Raplin
1992 Malcolm X Thomas Hagan
1994 Fresh Esteban
1995 The Usual Suspects Jack Baer
1995 Klash Stoney
1995 Blue in the Face Tommy
1995 The Keeper Paul Lamont Also co-producer
1995 Waiting to Exhale David Matthews Uncredited
1997 Nothing to Lose Charlie Dunt
1997 Big City Blues Georgie
1998 Twilight Reuben Escobar
1998 Phoenix Louie
2001 Josephine Spike
2001 Monkeybone Hypnos
2001 Ali Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.
2001 Piñero Miguel Algarín
2003 Ash Tuesday Karl
2003 Blind Horizon JC Reynolds
2004 Noise Hank
2004 Doing Hard Time Captain Pierce Direct-to-DVD
2004 A Killer Within Vargas
2005 Hate Crime Det. Esposito
2005 Chupacabra: Dark Seas Dr. Peña Direct-to-DVD
2005 I Will Avenge You, Iago! Director
2005 Back in the Day Benson Copper
2005 Carlito's Way: Rise to Power Little Jeff Direct-to-DVD
2005 Derailed Detective Franklin Church
2006 Last Holiday Senator Dillings
2006 Sherrybaby Parole Officer Hernandez
2006 Rain Ken Arnold
2007 Racing Daylight Fred / Drifter
2007 The Box Detective Dwayne Burkhalter
2007 Mano Nino Short film
2007 Feel the Noise Roberto
2008 Gospel Hill Dr. Palmer Also director and producer
2010 Rabbit Hole Auggie
2011 S.W.A.T.: Firefight Inspector Hollander Direct-to-DVD
2011 Certainty Father Heery
2012 Alex Cross Daramus Holiday
2012 Dreaming American Daytona LeMans Short film
2014 Requiem for the Big East Narrator [17]
2014 Son of Batman Ra's al Ghul (voice) Direct-to-DVD
2014 Batman: Assault on Arkham Black Spider (voice) Direct-to-DVD
2014 Poker Night Bernard
2015 Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Jorge
2016 The Pills – Sempre meglio che lavorare Bangla Boss
2016 The Jungle Book Akela (voice) [18]
2016 Money Monster Captain Marcus Powell
2016 Brother Nature Congressman Frank McClaren
2017 The Show Mason Washington Also director and producer
2017 Stuck Lloyd
2017 Okja Frank Dawson
2017 Unacknowledged Narrator
2018 Maze Runner: The Death Cure Jorge
2018 MFKZ Mr. K (voice) English dub
2019 Line of Duty Volk
2019 Coda Paul
2020 Stargirl Archie
TBA The Long Home William Tell Oliver Post-production

Television films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Gentleman Bandit Jamie
1985 Finnegan Begin Again Intruder
1986 Rockabye Marcus
1998 Stardust Mr. Peavy
1998 Creature Lt. Thomas Peniston
1998 Thirst Dr. Lawrence Carver
1998 Naked City: Justice with a Bullet Chaz Villanueva
2008 Xenophobia Young
2013 Over / Under Oliver Ohrt

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1982 Sesame Street Mickey 5 episodes
1982 Another World Willie Armstrong Episode: "4498"
1982–1983 Guiding Light Clay Tynan Unknown episodes
1984–1985 Miami Vice Luther / Ricky / Adonis Jackson 3 episodes
1985 CBS Schoolbreak Special Kyle Episode: "The Exchange Student"
1985–1986 American Playhouse Elisha / Simon Fernandes 2 episodes
1986 The Equalizer Jumpin' Jack Episode: "The Line"
1987 Spenser: For Hire Ramos Episode: "On the Night He Was Betrayed"
1987 Leg Work Tyson Episode: "Blind Trust"
1990 Lifestories Julio Episode: "Jerry Forchette"
1993 The American Experience Dr. Kenneth Clark Episode: "Simple Justice"
1993–1994 Bakersfield P.D. Detective Paul Gigante 17 episodes
1995 New York Undercover Adolfo Guzman 3 episodes
1995 Fallen Angels Paris Minton Episode: "Fearless"
1996 Chicago Hope Cherchez LaFemme Episode: "Right to Life"
1996 Swift Justice Andrew Coffin 3 episodes
1996–1998 NYPD Blue Ferdinand Hollie / Jamaal 2 episodes
1996 Living Single Jackson Turner Episode: "Kiss of the Spider Man"
1996 The Tomorrow Man Jonathan Driscoll Unsold TV pilot
1996 Law & Order Mr. Baylor Episode: "Good Girl"
1998 The Hunger Vampire Episode: "Fly-By-Night"
1998–1999 Homicide: Life on the Street Federal Agent Mike Giardello 22 episodes
2000 Touched by an Angel Antonio Episode: "Here I Am"
2000 Homicide: The Movie Officer Mike Giardello Television film
2000–2001 The $treet Tom Divack 12 episodes
2001 Strong Medicine James Bell Episode: "Mortality"
2001 100 Centre Street Jacob Lenz Episode: "Andromeda and the Monster"
2002 A Nero Wolfe Mystery Ambassador Theodore Kelefy Episode: "Immune to Murder"
2002 The Practice Ray McMurphy Episode: "Pro Se"
2002 Third Watch Father Romero Episode: "The Unforgiven"
2002 Girls Club Nicholas Hahn 9 episodes
2004–2005 Law & Order Rodney Fallon 3 episodes
2004 5ive Days to Midnight Tim Sanders 4 episodes
2004 NYPD 2069 Lt. Garner Unsold TV pilot
2004 Soul Food Jules 2 episodes
2005 Law & Order: Trial by Jury Orlando Ramirez Episode: "Boys Will Be Boys"
2006 South Beach Robert Fuentes 5 episodes
2006 Ghost Whisperer Ely Fisher Episode: "Fury"
2006 Bones Richard Benoit Episode: "The Man in the Morgue"
2006 Las Vegas Reggie Archibald Episode: "White Christmas"
2006–2008 CSI: Miami Chief Braga 2 episodes
2007 Kidnapped Vance 2 episodes
2008 New Amsterdam Special Agent James Lawson Episode: "Legacy"
2009–2011 Breaking Bad Gus Fring 24 episodes
2010 Leverage Alexander Moto Episode: "The Scheherazade Job"
2010 Lie to Me Beau Hackman Episode: "Black and White"
2010 Detroit 1-8-7 Eddie Henderson Episode: "Shelter"
2011 Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Gordon Ramirez Episode: "The Time is Now"
2011–2017 Once Upon a Time Sidney Glass / Magic Mirror 14 episodes
2012–2013 Community Gilbert Lawson 2 episodes
2012 NYC 22 Harvey Williams 2 episodes
2012–2014 Revolution Tom Neville 41 episodes
2013 Timms Valley Pruit Normings (voice) Unsold TV pilot
2013 Axe Cop Army Chihuahua (voice) 2 episodes
2015 Allegiance Oscar Christoph 7 episodes
2015 Drunk History Andrés Pico Episode: "Los Angeles"
2016–2017 The Get Down Pastor Ramon Cruz 10 episodes
2017 Rebel Charles Gold 4 episodes
2017–present Better Call Saul Gus Fring 29 episodes
2017–present Dear White People Dr. Edward Ruskins / Narrator 23 episodes
2018 Westworld El Lazo / Robert Ford Episode: "Reunion"
2018 Dallas & Robo Victor Goldsmith (voice) 5 episodes
2019 Jett Charlie Baudelaire 9 episodes
2019–present The Boys Stan Edgar Episode: "You Found Me"
2019 Creepshow Doc Episode: "Gray Matter"
2019 Godfather of Harlem Adam Clayton Powell Jr. 10 episodes
2019–present Harley Quinn Lex Luthor (voice) 4 episodes
2019–present The Mandalorian Moff Gideon 2 episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Payday 2 The Dentist / Dr. Helmann Voice and likeness
2021 Far Cry 6 "El Presidente" Anton Castillo Also likeness[19]

Other work[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 The Law of The Jungle Father Trailer for the video game Destiny

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1995 Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Male Fresh Nominated
National Board of Review Best Cast The Usual Suspects Won
1999 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Homicide: Life on the Street Nominated
2011 Breaking Bad Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Guest Starring Role on Television Nominated
2012 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor on Television Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2013 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor on Television Revolution Nominated
2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Better Call Saul Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2020 Pending
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series The Mandalorian Pending


  1. ^ Ferraro, Thomas J. (2005). Feeling Italian: The Art of Ethnicity in America. ISBN 978-0-8147-2730-0.
  2. ^ LeVasseur, Andrea (2003). "Giancarlo Esposito Pictures, Biography, Filmography, News, Videos". All Movie Guide. Starpulse. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  3. ^ "Giancarlo Esposito Biography (1958–)". Film Reference. NetIndustries, LLC. Retrieved April 10, 2009. Giancarlo Giuseppi Alessandro Esposito; born April 26, 1958, in Copenhagen, Denmark; raised in New York, N.Y., father, a stagehand and carpenter; mother, an opera and nightclub singer; married Joy McManigal (a producer), June 1995; children: Shayne Lyra, Kale Lyn
  4. ^ "Giancarlo Esposito and confrontation". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "Giancarlo Esposito heads to Reggae Film Festival". Jamaica Gleaner. March 26, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "Bio: Giancarlo Esposito",; accessed June 14, 2017.
  7. ^ "Giancarlo Esposito".
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 18, 2011). "TV BITS: Giancarlo Esposito To Join ABC Series, Howie Mandel To Produce Reality Format, Ben Silveran To Publish Comic". Deadline. Media Corp. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  9. ^ "Major Tom Neville". IMDB. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  10. ^ Kronke, David (February 17, 2012). "Exclusive: Giancarlo Esposito Talks About His Community Guest Shot". TV Guide. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  11. ^ Romano, Nick (July 30, 2019). "The Boys showrunner unpacks the finale cliffhanger, cameos, and season 2 plans". Retrieved June 2, 2020. Esposito will have a larger role to play in season 2. “Sure enough, in season 2, that becomes a really important character,” Kripke confirms. “So I had to call him and go, ‘Hey, remember that cameo you did for me as a favor in season 1?… Now I need you for four to five more episodes.’ To his credit, thank God, he’s available and enthusiastic.”
  12. ^ The Deadline Team (July 28, 2014). "Disney's 'Jungle Book' Adds Christopher Walken & Giancarlo Esposito". Deadline. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  13. ^ Boucher, Geoff (December 12, 2018). "'Star Wars: The Mandalorian' Casting: Giancarlo Esposito, Carl Weathers And Werner Herzog Join Disney+ Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  14. ^ "Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito Is Working On A Big Video Game That He Can't Tell You About". GameSpot. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  15. ^ Thier, Dave. "'Far Cry 6' Villain Leaks, And It's A Change For The Series". Forbes. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  16. ^ Heisler, Steve (October 7, 2011). "Giancarlo Esposito". AV Club. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  17. ^ Spender, Sheldon. "ICYMI: The week on Front Row PLUS Inside new #BigEast 30 for 30 film debuting Sunday". ESPN.
  18. ^ "Disney's 'Jungle Book' Adds Christopher Walken & Giancarlo Esposito". July 28, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  19. ^ Watts, Steve (July 10, 2020). "Far Cry 6 Confirmed With Clip Featuring Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito". GameSpot. Retrieved July 10, 2020.

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