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Giancarlo Esposito Realized The Key To Playing Gus In Breaking Bad Was To Do Nothing

When it comes to the best TV villains of all time, there's one that stands above the rest: Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) of "Breaking Bad" fame. First introduced in the last few episodes of Season 2, the narcotics dealer and Los Pollos Hermanos proprietor became a fearsome foe for Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul). For his performance as the diabolical Gus, Esposito received a Supporting Actor nod at the 2012 Emmys. While the "Breaking Bad" actor didn't walk away with the statue, his performance as Gus cemented his legacy as one Hollywood's most interesting working actors.

While Esposito was a notable actor prior to "Breaking Bad," his performance as the drug dealer catapulted him to success, paving the way for future acclaimed villainous appearances in Prime Video's "The Boys" and Disney+'s "The Mandalorian." He received two further Emmy nominations for his turn as the nefarious Moff Gideon in the "Star Wars" series. Esposito ultimately returned as Fring for "Better Call Saul," the highly-laughed "Breaking Bad" spin-off.

The role of Gus has gone on to define Esposito's career, a connection that isn't lost on the thespian. The actor is so interested in the character that he hopes to one day give him a prequel series, telling Esquire in 2022 that he's already determined the character's origins. "In my brain, he was high up in a military government," the actor said.

What goes hand-in-hand with being part of the military? Stoicism, or showing a lack of emotion or reaction. It's not surprising that Esposito, in his words, imagines Fring as someone from "political royalty," as the actor has realized the best way to approach Gus was to do absolutely nothing.

The Gus Fring actor says it's important to slow down

While breaking down his various iconic roles throughout the years with GQ, Giancarlo Esposito revealed his secret to tackling Gus Fring: doing nothing. Discussing a scene from Season 4 Episode 1, titled "Box Cutter,"  where his character is silent, Esposito brought up how his work in the theater led him to discover Harold Pinter's "Pinter Pause." London Theatre Direct describes it as a device that demands the "rejection of perfection in favour of realism." In short, it's a form of incorporating pauses (a.k.a silence) in a performance to make it more intense. "Sometimes that space is an interminable amount of time but it allows you to refocus and it gets your attention. I thought of this when creating Gus," Esposito said.

"So for me, my contribution was, I realized, you can't mess with the words, they were good," the "Breaking Bad" actor continued. Approaching Gus then became a matter of figuring out how to slow down the character's timing. "Slowing down the timing" allowed Esposito to hear more, be contemplative, and allow space to affect his performance.

For Esposito, slowing things down is the same thing as doing nothing. "When someone would say something to me, I wouldn't answer right away. I would really hear them, study them," Esposito. Consider how Gus' biggest power move in "Breaking Bad" was his menacing glare and lack of neediness for a response. Esposito continued by revealing how this approach, alongside his breathing practice of yoga, made him realize that he didn't have to do anything to manifest fear. "The best actors don't do anything ... You have to think it and project it ..."