Gus Fring lives!
What, you didn't actually believe Breaking Bad's menacing drug overlord was killed in this season finale, did you?
Kidding! Sort of: Giancarlo Esposito, whose Emmy-worthy (hint hint) portrayal of Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) chilling archenemy is returning to TV Sunday night in ABC's Once Upon a Time.
Read on to hear what the loveliest of all actors (really!) told us about his new fairy-tale role, his first reaction to the news of Gus' demise—and how he plans to return to Breaking Bad next season!
Showrunner Vince Gilligan broke the bad (no pun intended) news two weeks after Gus' shocking murder in B.B.'s season premiere, Esposito revealed—but the actor didn't make it easy for him. After chatting with the actor in his office, Gilligan got up to close the door. "I said, 'No you can't do that!'" Esposito cackled. After several protestations, the actor finally let the "extremely nervous, stumbling over his words" showrunner announce the inevitable. "I said, 'Look, if you gotta kill the guy, you gotta make it good—we gotta go big.'"
Gilligan obviously agreed, delivering a shocking end to the coldblooded killer. "When I saw it I of course was stunned because a part of me dies too every time I have a character death." Esposito was just as surprised about the fans' reaction, especially those insisting Gus managed to survive.
"I'm really ecstatic because it seems that people like Gus," he said. Holla! "I wanted to create a villain that is not only villainous and meticulous and intelligent but someone people would love and hate. That to me is the ultimate villain you can create...I'm really grateful to be inspired by the writers and to have my performance inspire them to bring Gus to such a beautiful conclusion."
Now Esposito is embarking on a new beginning: playing a drastically different character in Once Upon a Time. Make that two characters: Snow White's famous Magic Mirror and Sydney, the browbeaten newspaper editor in the "reality world" of Storybrooke. "Once Upon a Time is quite delicious, actually," he said, adding that like Breaking Bad, the fairy tale drama "is not without its darkness as well."
"It's not black or white," Esposito explains. Showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz "really have dug deeply to find the edginess of the fairy tales. I have four girls, and when you read fairy tales some of them are really frightening and awful."
Esposito's Magic Mirror/Sydney is appearing in four episodes—and hopefully more if the show gets picked up. (Yes, please!) And although he calls his dual role the "best of all worlds," he "had tears in [his] eyes" when he found out filming will prevent him from spending Halloween with his family—especially given their costume plans. He made copies of New York Magazine's Gus Fring two-face mask for his oldest daughter, and he said, "I was even considering going as myself—as Gus." Um, terrifying much? Can you imagine Gus ringing your doorbell with a Pollos Hermanos trick-or-treat bucket?
Here's a consolation for Gus fans: Esposito might actually return to Breaking Bad—this time behind the lens.
"I am hoping and praying that I'll have an opportunity to direct an episode next season. Bryan [Cranston] is keen on it and Vince would like to have it happen. I've directed my own feature film, so I'm hoping to blend that in with the possibility of Gus coming back, of course—in however or whatever fashion he may show up again."
Who wouldn't want another serving of Gus, even if it's only in flashback sequences? Meanwhile, don't forget to tune in to ABC Sunday night at 8 p.m. for Esposito's Once Upon a Time debut.
Were you as shocked by Gus' spectacular exit as we were? Excited to see Giancarlo back on TV—with his whole face?