The award winning television drama, Breaking Bad, became legendary during its 62 episode run – creating a sizeable fanbase for the show and turning its characters into household names. Beginning as an exploration of the descent of one science teacher – Walter White (Bryan Cranston) – from respectability to terrifying master of the criminal underworld, the show built an entire community around the cancer-stricken educator, including the popular character of Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Now that the Breaking Bad prequel series – Better Call Saul – is into its third season, Fring has appeared to play his part in the story of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk).
Esposito recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly while promoting the series and provided some details on what fans can expect from him here. When asked about his early reluctance to agree to reprise his Breaking Bad role, Esposito explained that it was merely a reflection of the fact that, at first, he could not imagine where Gus would belong within that specific narrative.
“I didn’t really know how Gus would fit into a show about Saul. I knew that Saul was conceived as a comedy and then got to be a dramedy. Loved the show, loved what Bob does, didn’t know how Gus would fit into it. So I heard, like the public, rumors that Gus might come to the show. And I got a phone call of inquiry: Would I be willing?
“I said I’d be willing predicated on a conversation with Vince [Gilligan, Breaking Bad‘s creator who created Saul with Peter Gould]. Then another six or eight months passed, and Vince and I had a terrific conversation… He assured me that they were going to find the way that would be intriguing and interesting, and I said if that could happen I would come back. It had to be for more than one episode. I’m imagining what Vince was thinking is to take it up to where we begin in Breaking Bad — possibly.
“Gus is primarily a mystery, which means that mystery has to unfold in a slow-burn manner. Of course we want to know more about Gus, of course it has to be balanced with Saul, and I think they’ll do it brilliantly. What excited me specifically was my own imagination about who Gus was six years prior to us meeting him. Who is that guy? I want to chart his rise in a specific way. In other words, maybe the possibility of having him be more vulnerable and less maniacal and obviously in control but also very scheduled out. He has a very big brain. It’s the big brain that creates the business, or several businesses like this. So that’s what intrigued me — that I could find some other delicate areas of Gus to unveil to the public, and people would go, “Oh, yeah! Right! He’s younger, he’s more brash. There’s a different kind of balance in a younger man and a man who’s also in the prime of charting his plan.”
Esposito also spoke of a spinoff idea centred on Gus Fring, which he referred to as The Rise Of Gus. This is perhaps one of the most interesting snippets to come from his interview, but is not something that Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has initiated. This idea has come from Giancarlo Esposito, as he worked to create the iconic and terrifying Gus Fring in the first place.
“It’s been something I’ve mentioned over and over again. Maybe Vince or Peter haven’t seen it or maybe AMC and Sony haven’t seen it. I certainly have mentioned it to my people, it’s out there. In all fairness to Vince, they’re folks who have a lot on their plate and are focusing on making this one show great. A reporter said to me the other day, “Let’s face it, we’re in the third season of Saul. Two more seasons and then you have your bookends in a way. What’s after that?” That comes up very, very quickly. So I keep talking about it because maybe it’s a reality, although I feel like if we explore all the places of Gus in Saul that I’m satisfied with, there may be no need for The Rise of Gus.”
But, before there’s any real talk of a Gus Fring spinoff, there’s plenty of action planned for the character within the upcoming episodes of Better Call Saul – and we should prepare ourselves for a glimpse of why Gus is so intimidating in later years.
“I would hint that he is very, very compassionate to his enemies. But behind that compassion, through an incident that takes place this season, you see his bigger plan for this particular character…. I think it’s a fascinating moment for the audience and for Gus. He’s so self-assured that that moment will come that he takes an action to not have that moment happen now. (Laughs) Pretty brilliant to me.
“It’s a multi-season commitment, barring something else that I’m developing, which, in my brain, we would juggle. In this third season, there are some reveals, but I’d like for deeper and more complicated reveals into Gus’s past in season 4 that link him and bring us deeper into that cartel region.
“You might want to say Gus is a savior. Who knew?”
The beauty of Vince Gilligan’s work within the confines of the Breaking Bad universe is that as many loose ends are tied up as are left hanging. The difference is that, we know the way that Gus Fring’s story ends. Will we get a full and robust view of where his story begins in Better Call Saul, or will that story one day take the form of its own spinoff? Only time will tell.