Esposito at the 2017 South by Southwest
Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito
April 26, 1958
(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).
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 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.
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. 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.
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". 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.
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 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. 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". 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.
Esposito married Joy McManigal in 1995; they later divorced. He has four daughters.
|1979||Running||Puerto Rican Teenager|
|1981||Taps||Cadet Captain JC Pierce|
|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|
|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|
|1995||The Usual Suspects||Jack Baer|
|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|
|2001||Ali||Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr.|
|2003||Blind Horizon||JC Reynolds|
|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|
|2007||Racing Daylight||Fred / Drifter|
|2007||The Box||Detective Dwayne Burkhalter|
|2007||Feel the Noise||Roberto|
|2008||Gospel Hill||Dr. Palmer||Also director and producer|
|2011||S.W.A.T.: Firefight||Inspector Hollander||Direct-to-DVD|
|2012||Alex Cross||Daramus Holiday|
|2012||Dreaming American||Daytona LeMans||Short film|
|2014||Requiem for the Big East||Narrator|||
|2014||Son of Batman||Ra's al Ghul (voice)||Direct-to-DVD|
|2014||Batman: Assault on Arkham||Black Spider (voice)||Direct-to-DVD|
|2015||Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials||Jorge|
|2016||The Pills – Sempre meglio che lavorare||Bangla Boss|
|2016||The Jungle Book||Akela (voice)|||
|2016||Money Monster||Captain Marcus Powell|
|2016||Brother Nature||Congressman Frank McClaren|
|2017||The Show||Mason Washington||Also director and producer|
|2018||Maze Runner: The Death Cure||Jorge|
|2018||MFKZ||Mr. K (voice)||English dub|
|2019||Line of Duty||Volk|
|TBA||The Long Home||William Tell Oliver||Post-production|
|1981||The Gentleman Bandit||Jamie|
|1985||Finnegan Begin Again||Intruder|
|1998||Creature||Lt. Thomas Peniston|
|1998||Thirst||Dr. Lawrence Carver|
|1998||Naked City: Justice with a Bullet||Chaz Villanueva|
|2013||Over / Under||Oliver Ohrt|
|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|
|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|
|2014||Payday 2||The Dentist / Dr. Helmann||Voice and likeness|
|2021||Far Cry 6||"El Presidente" Anton Castillo||Also likeness|
|2013||The Law of The Jungle||Father||Trailer for the video game Destiny|
Awards and nominations
- Ferraro, Thomas J. (2005). Feeling Italian: The Art of Ethnicity in America. ISBN 978-0-8147-2730-0.
- LeVasseur, Andrea (2003). "Giancarlo Esposito Pictures, Biography, Filmography, News, Videos". All Movie Guide. Starpulse. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
- "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
- "Giancarlo Esposito and confrontation". Los Angeles Times.
- "Giancarlo Esposito heads to Reggae Film Festival". Jamaica Gleaner. March 26, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
- "Bio: Giancarlo Esposito", Starpulse.com; accessed June 14, 2017.
- "Giancarlo Esposito".
- 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. Mail.com Media Corp. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
- "Major Tom Neville". IMDB. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
- Kronke, David (February 17, 2012). "Exclusive: Giancarlo Esposito Talks About His Community Guest Shot". TV Guide. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- 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.”
- The Deadline Team (July 28, 2014). "Disney's 'Jungle Book' Adds Christopher Walken & Giancarlo Esposito". Deadline. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
- 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.
- "Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito Is Working On A Big Video Game That He Can't Tell You About". GameSpot. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
- Thier, Dave. "'Far Cry 6' Villain Leaks, And It's A Change For The Series". Forbes. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
- Heisler, Steve (October 7, 2011). "Giancarlo Esposito". AV Club. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Spender, Sheldon. "ICYMI: The week on Front Row PLUS Inside new #BigEast 30 for 30 film debuting Sunday". ESPN.
- "Disney's 'Jungle Book' Adds Christopher Walken & Giancarlo Esposito". deadline.com. July 28, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- 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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