“In his real life, he’s an embracing, loving, wonderful man. He’s sweet and engaging, he makes eye contact, he’s this kind of spiritual guy,” co-star Bryan Cranston says.
Adds series creator Vince Gilligan: “I don’t know how he does it, because in real life he’s this sweet, goofy guy with an infectious smile, just a wonderful, warm, loving, human being. Where he pulls the character of Gus from I don’t know, but it’s amazing.”
(Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen the season premiere. Or at least peruse our recap first.)
In the climactic scene of Sunday’s season premiere, Gus coldly kills his lieutenant, Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui), to prove a point to Walt (Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) — and he utters not a word for an excruciatingly long time, until the very end of the scene. It’s a bravura piece of work, and at the show’s premiere in late June, Esposito told Zap2it how he gets into character:
“I just try to get really calm, get really relaxed. I do some meditation so I don’t sort of scorch myself as I play Gus,” he says. “And I’m present. I pay very close attention to what the other character is saying to me and try to just channel some energy that’s really, really calm and relaxed.”
Esposito says he sees Gus as someone who’s ruthless about expanding his empire, but also “cultivating talent that could work for him, but also help them in their lives. … He’s allowing opportunities and giving opportunities in ways where they wouldn’t be available before. He’s very clear about that, but I think if you don’t — I know if you don’t do what he wants you to do or suggests you do, then you’re in trouble.”
No kidding. Cranston describes what it was like to film the scene: “When [Esposito] plays that bad character, his eyes go dead, and all it takes is to look into his eyes. … It was painful, but beautifully crafted, and reasonably so. He holds all the power in that scene. There’s no reason for him to speak, no reason for him to say a word. But me, I’m tap-dancing to stay alive, so I’m trying to justify why you can’t kill me, why you shouldn’t kill me, because I know this and I know that, and this guy doesn’t know anything. I’m dancing as fast as I can.”
After that, we can’t wait to see where “Breaking Bad” goes from here.