He was up pretty early anyway, though.
“I had a little bit of nervousness surrounding it and just wanted to get to it — is it or isn’t it?” Esposito tells Zap2it. Now that he knows he’s been nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a drama, he’s “over the moon.”
“It’s really exciting. It really is,” he says of his first Emmy nod. “… It couldn’t be a more auspicious moment for me to have this nomiation, I’ve got to tell you.”
Esposito chose the “Breaking Bad” episode “Hermanos” — which flashes back 20 years to a time when his character, Gustavo Fring, was not nearly the collected, powerful man he is in the present — for his Emmy submission. He says playing such a different version of the character presented a big challenge.
“It rocked my world as an actor. I had to find something new,” he says. “In episodic television, you have sort of a basic groundwork for the character you’re portraying — new things come up, but they’re smaller and more subtle. In ‘Hermanos,’ I had to speak all in Spanish, and that was a challenge with six different Spanish speakers who were in the scene with me, all with different [dialects]. … Not only that, but I had to act, and I also couldn’t be the strong Gus Fring I was used to being. For me, it taught me to trust my fellow actors, trust my gut feeling.”
Esposito will be vying for an Emmy opposite his “Breaking Bad” co-star, Aaron Paul (who whon the award in 2010) and last year’s winner, Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones.” Jim Carter and Brendan Coyle of “Downton Abbey” and Jared Harris of “Mad Men” are also nominated.
Naturally, Esposito hopes to win the award at the Sept. 23 Emmy ceremony, but he’s trying to keep it in the back of his mind.
“Of course being acknowledged is fantastic, and of course going all the way would be even better,” he says. “I don’t want to think about all those things because the work is all different, and I can’t judge it. But it certainly is an honor to be in this position.
“One of my managers said, ‘Peter’s not only a brilliant actor, he’s also a little guy, and that gets people’s attention,'” Esposito adds with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘Come on, guys. Leave me alone.’ … What’s supposed to be is what will be.”