Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito (born April 26, 1958) is a Danish-born American actor, director, and producer of African-Italian descent. He is best known for his portrayal of Gustavo "Gus" Fring on the AMC series Breaking Bad, for which he won the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama award at the 2012 Critics' Choice Television Awards and was nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series award at the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards. He is well known for his roles in Spike Lee films such as Do the Right Thing, School Daze, and Mo' Better Blues. Other notable films include The Usual Suspects and King of New York. He has portrayed Sidney Glass/Magic Mirror on ABC's Once Upon a Time and Major Tom Neville in the NBC series Revolution.
Esposito was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of an Italian father and an African-American mother. His mother was an opera and nightclub singer from Alabama, and his father was a stagehand and carpenter from Naples. Esposito lived in Europe until the family settled in Manhattan when he was six.
Esposito made his Broadway debut (1966) at age eight playing a slave child opposite Shirley Jones in the short-lived Maggie Flynn.
During the 1980s, Esposito appeared in films such as Maximum Overdrive, King of New York, and Trading Places, and TV shows such as Miami Vice and Spenser: For Hire. He played J.C. Pierce, a cadet in the 1981 movie Taps. In 1988, he landed his breakout role as the leader ("Dean Big Brother Almighty") of the black fraternity "Gamma Phi Gamma" in director Spike Lee's film School Daze. Over the next four years, Esposito and Lee collaborated on three other movies: Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, and Malcolm X. During the 1990s Esposito appeared in the acclaimed indie films Night on Earth, Fresh and Smoke, as well as its sequel Blue in the Face. He also appeared in the mainstream film Reckless with Mia Farrow and Waiting to Exhale starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett.
Esposito is known for his portrayal of FBI agent Mike Giardello on the TV crime drama Homicide: Life on the Street. That role reflected both his black and Italian heritage; he portrayed the character during the show's seventh and final season. Mike's estranged father, shift lieutenant Al Giardello, is portrayed as subject to racism, something Esposito's character practiced in School Daze. Another biracial role was Sergeant Paul Gigante in the television comedy series, Bakersfield P.D. (Fox Broadcasting Company, 1993â"94).
In 1997, Esposito played the role of Darryl in Trouble on the Corner and Charlie Dunt in Nothing to Lose. Other TV credits include NYPD Blue, Law & Order, The Practice, New York Undercover, and Fallen Angels: Fearless.
Esposito has portrayed drug dealers (Fresh, Breaking Bad, King of New York), cops (The Usual Suspects, Derailed), political radicals (Bob Roberts, Do the Right Thing) and even a demonic version of the Greek God of Sleep Hypnos from another dimension (Monkeybone). He played Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. in Ali and Nuyorican poet Miguel PiÃ±ero's friend and collaborator Miguel AlgarÃn in PiÃ±ero, both released in 2001.
In 2006, Esposito starred in Last Holiday as Senator Dillings, alongside Queen Latifah and Timothy Hutton. Also in 2006, he played an unsympathetic Detective named Esposito in the 2006 film, Hate Crime. The film explores homophobia.
Esposito played Robert Fuentes, a Miami businessman with shady connections, on the UPN television series South Beach. He has appeared in New Amsterdam and CSI: Miami. He recorded a public service announcement for Deejay Ra's hip hop literacy campaign to encourage reading about Muhammad Ali. In Feel the Noise (2007), he played ex-musician Roberto, the Puerto Rican father of Omarion Grandberry's character, aspiring rap star "Rob".
Gospel Hill (2008) was Esposito's directorial debut; he also produced the film and starred in it. New York theatre credits for Esposito include The Me Nobody Knows, Lost in the Stars, Seesaw, and Merrily We Roll Along. In 2008 he appeared on Broadway as Gooper in an African American production of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Debbie Allen and starring James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, and Terrence Howard.
From 2009 to 2011, Esposito appeared in seasons 2 through 4 of the AMC drama Breaking Bad, as Gus Fring, the head of a New Mexico-based methamphetamine drug ring and the show's primary antagonist in the fourth season. Esposito received critical acclaim for this role. As noted above, he won the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama award at the 2012 Critics' Choice Television Awards and was nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series award at the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards, but lost to co-star Aaron Paul. Esposito appears in Rabbit Hole (2010), with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. He also appeared in an episode of the series Leverage, reuniting with his Taps co-star Hutton.
Esposito appeared in the first season of the ABC program Once Upon a Time that debuted in the fall of 2011. He portrayed the split role of Sidney, a reporter for The Daily Mirror in the town of Storybrooke, Maine, who in actuality is the Magic Mirror, possessed by The Evil Queen in a parallel fairy tale world. Esposito appeared in Revolution as Major Tom Neville, a central character who kills Ben Matheson in the pilot and escorts a captured Danny back to the capital of the Monroe Militia in Philadelphia.
Esposito has also appeared in Community as a guest star for an episode entitled "Digital Estate Planning". He then reappeared in the fourth season, in the episode titled "Paranormal Parentage". Esposito has additionally appeared in a video of the action role-playing sci-fi first-person shooter Destiny, as well as playing The Dentist, a non-playable story character, in the game Payday 2.
He has joined the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series. He played Ra's al Ghul in Son of Batman and is set to portray Black Spider in the upcoming Batman: Assault on Arkham.
Esposito married Joy McManigal in 1995; they later divorced. He has 4 daughters.
Awards and nominations
- Giancarlo Esposito at the Internet Movie Database
- Giancarlo Esposito at the Internet Broadway Database
- Giancarlo Esposito at AllMovie