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Fargo Star On His Character And How The Godfather Played A Huge Part - Exclusive

Salvatore Esposito is already a star in his native Italy, where he appears on the wildly popular crime series Gomorrah. Now, with a memorable role on season 4 of FX's hit show Fargo and Gomorrah set to premiere on HBO Max in late 2020, Esposito's star is quickly rising in the United States.

On the new season of Fargo, which also stars Chris Rock and Jason Schwartzman, Esposito portrays Gaetano Fadda, an unhinged Italian mafia gangster in 1950s Kansas City, Missouri. Brother to newly-anointed crime lord Josto Fadda (Schwartzman), Gaetano was raised in Sardinia, away from his family, and came of age killing communists for Mussolini. His unwavering bloodlust is quickly apparent, and by the season's third episode, he's overstepping his more cautious brother to call for a hit on a rival gang leader's son, starting a turf war and setting up a family showdown between Gaetano and Josto.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Esposito chatted about what motivates Gaetano, where his character's storyline is headed, and how The Godfather has influenced his acting.

Salvatore Esposito sees his Fargo character as a raging bull

Esposito's performance on Fargo evokes Marlon Brando and James Caan in The Godfather, a movie that Esposito says has greatly influenced his acting style.

"For me, The Godfather is like a religion," says Esposito. "Who doesn't love The Godfather and its amazing cast? Growing up, I followed actors like Brando, Pacino — they are like gods to me. And with Gaetano I tried to do my way of gangsters in the '50s; a gangster that comes from Italy, but [lives] in the U.S. So he's a mix."

Esposito wanted that mix to be prominently on display when it came to Gaetano's personality. "I talked with [showrunner] Noah Hawley and the writers and said, 'Look, I want to mix my lines — I want to say some lines in Italian and some in English. I wanted to mix my ways of acting, so I created with them the way Gaetano looked and acted. I hope I did a good job."

Another aspect Esposito specifically focused on was Gaetano's eyes, which are very expressive. "His eyes are always like a raging bull," the actor explains. "For me Gaetano is like a bull, he can kill you at any moment. So with his eyes and his way of breathing, you see rage inside of him."

Salvatore Esposito's Fargo character is power hungry

As we see in the third episode of Fargo's fourth season, Gaetano quickly establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with when he orders one of his henchmen to kill the son of Loy Cannon (Rock), leader of the rival gang. In sidestepping the authority of his brother Josto, Gaetano sets up a potential war between gangs — and brothers.

"Gaetano is a crazy bomb that can explode at any moment, and to Gaetano, Josto is not enough of a boss," says Esposito. "Gaetano is ready to make moves to fight against the Cannon family and, in a certain way, to fight against his own brother. He wants to become the head of the family. Having grown up in Italy during the World War, he's ready to fight and ready to go to war. So he wants to make a move, because he feels Josto [is weak]."

When it comes to trying to understand why Gaetano is so ready to shed blood, Esposito speculates: "He says something to Josto in episode two [that sums up his mindset]: 'business, family, country.' This is a state of mind for Gaetano. He wants to fight for his family, for the business, and he wants to take control. Like the bull I mentioned, he's always angry and thinking of power, of rage, of fighting. He's never empty of those things. He always wants to fight because of this enormous rage he has inside. By the end of the season you will understand why."