Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito
Giancarlo Esposito
Real name:
Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito
Who is:
Birth date:
(66 y.o.)
Place of birth:
Copenhagen, Denmark
5'8 ft ()
165 lb (75 kg)
Birth Sign:
Chinese zodiac:

Biography of Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito is an American actor who gained widespread recognition for his role as Gustavo "Gus" Fring in the crime drama "Breaking Bad" and its spin-off "Better Call Saul."

Additionally, his filmography includes the incomparable character Moff Gideon in the sci-fi action series "The Mandalorian," Stan Edgar, the head of the Vought corporation in "The Boys," and Leo Pap, the main character in the thriller "Kaleidoscope." Among his many roles, he has portrayed numerous villains, but the worst one, according to Esposito himself, is the Latin American dictator Anton Castillo from the video game Far Cry 6.
Actor Giancarlo Esposito
Actor Giancarlo Esposito

Childhood, Youth, Family

Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito (full name of the actor) was born in the spring of 1958 in Copenhagen, to a family of Giovanni (John) S. Esposito and Elizabeth (Liz) Foster. His father, originally from Naples, was a carpenter and stagehand. His mother was an African American singer from Alabama with a classical music education. In the 1950s, she played leading roles in the touring production of George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess."

Giancarlo's parents met in a small opera theater in Milan when Elizabeth's tour was ending. According to Esposito's memories, music always filled their home, his mother loved to perform operatic arias before the family, and from an early age, he dreamed of becoming an artist.

The boy was five years old when the family first moved to Elmsford (New York), then to Cleveland (Ohio), and eventually settled in the heart of New York City – Manhattan.

A few years later, Giancarlo appeared on Broadway in the production of "Maggie Flynn."

"When I first started, I played an African American, a black child slave," Esposito recalled. For a long time, he was only offered such roles. He knew he wanted to play expansive, emotional characters, but at the end of the sixties, the choice of roles available to black actors was extremely limited. That's when Giancarlo resorted to a little trick:
Even when I was little, I realized the power of my hair. I could slick it back, smooth it down, and look Latino. Thanks to my musical ear and language skills, I perfected a Spanish accent. It was hard, but I expanded my repertoire.
After finishing school, Esposito enrolled in the Radio and Television department of Elizabeth Seton College in New York.

Acting Career

Giancarlo made his film debut in 1979, playing a minor role in the movie "Running." He also had small parts in the Canadian horror film "The Changeling," the drama "Taps," and the comedy "Trading Places."

In the late '80s, the aspiring actor began collaborating with the young screenwriter and director Spike Lee, who aimed to amplify the voice of African Americans in the film industry. Esposito played one of the lead roles in Lee's second film, the musical "School Daze," which addressed pressing issues such as racial and social inequality and statism. Esposito's character, Julian, is a vain "alpha male" who treats his girlfriend Jane as an object.

"School Daze" was released in 1988, and in 1989, Esposito appeared in Lee's next drama, "Do the Right Thing." In this film, which was more commercially successful than "School Daze," the actor played a secondary role as the agitator known as Buggin Out. About this role, the actor recalled:
I was a revelation for African Americans, although I had started my career long before that. They recognized me, which, of course, was wonderful. I felt great. But in my soul, I was always black. Black and Italian. My father Giovanni watched this film and said, 'Too much swearing, Giancarlo.' And I replied, 'Okay. What else did you see?' And then I realized he didn't understand what it's like to be in my skin.
Giancarlo's breakthrough in acting was just around the corner – he landed a role in the once-popular crime drama "King of New York" alongside Laurence Fishburne and Christopher Walken.

He also starred with Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson in the musical drama "Mo' Better Blues." Overall, in the '90s, he acted frequently, mostly portraying stereotypical "villains." Audiences could see him in films like "Nothing to Lose" (Charlie Dunt), "Fresh" (Darryl), "Taps" (George), "Big City Blues" (Georgie), and "The Usual Suspects" (Jack Baer).

In the early 2000s, Esposito felt typecast, playing "someone else's vision" of what an African American is, as opposed to his own. He was still being playing "a street thug and drug dealer."

Giancarlo appeared in various TV series and played lead roles in the films "Sherrybaby" and "Monkeybone," but he wanted to play completely different roles, such as Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. He recalled how he went to auditions and saw the baffled expressions on the faces of casting directors, who repeatedly turned him down:
Then I made a decision—I want to play people in general. I didn't want to play people of a certain skin color. I didn't want to play people of a certain race. I wanted to take on roles of ordinary people. And I'm not claiming that there are black actors, white actors, and Giancarlo Esposito. But maybe that's what I mean. So I started looking for roles that would allow me to play ordinary people.
And then, in 2009, Esposito's filmography featured the role of his most beloved villain, for which he was nominated for an Emmy – Chilean drug lord Gus Fring, a cold and cunning criminal leading a double life. He first appeared in the second season of the series "Breaking Bad," and was also a crucial character in its spin-off "Better Call Saul."

He might not have gotten this role. The writer and director Vince Gilligan said that at first, he did not immediately think of Esposito – mainly because Gilligan doubted he would agree. But after the audition, he stated:
Watching Giancarlo's audition for the role of Gustavo Fring... I almost jumped out of my seat. I remember saying, 'My God, I didn't even know we had a chance to get this guy.' The moment we began watching, we thought, 'This is the guy.' The way he plays this character just blows your mind.
Thanks to the success of "Breaking Bad," Esposito had the opportunity to play any role he had ever dreamed of since his Broadway debut in his distant childhood. He brought his signature, yet elusive, "mix of grace and fire" to the southern charm of Adam Clayton Powell in "The Godfather of Harlem," the stoic composure of main antagonist Moff Gideon in "The Mandalorian," and the corporate heartlessness and calculation of Stan Edgar in "The Boys."

Director Eric Kripke spoke enthusiastically about Esposito's work in "The Boys," calling him "the most sparkling person on the planet":
I like how he conveys Edgar's upper-crust breeding, his polite cruelty, which makes the character simultaneously intimidating and absolutely charming.
One of Esposito's latest prominent roles to date is the thief Leo Pap in the crime action film "Kaleidoscope," where he worked alongside Rufus Sewell and Jai Courtney.

Also, an interesting character, Stanley Johnston, was created by the actor in Guy Ritchie's comedy series "The Gentlemen." The premiere took place in March 2024.

The Personal Life of Giancarlo Esposito

The actor isn't of interest to paparazzi and tabloids since he doesn't engage in affairs, isn't secretly dating anyone, and doesn't hide his four daughters from the public eye.

In 1995, he married Joy McManigal. She is now the CEO of The C4 Way, a motivational speaker, and a professional mentor. The couple lived together for twenty years before they divorced without any scandals.

The couple has four daughters: Shayne (born in 1997), Kale (born in 1998), Syrlucia (born in 2000), and Ruby (born in 2003). They regularly communicate with their father, who never ceases to be amazed by their successes.

Giancarlo Esposito Now

In 2024, the actor was very busy. Fans eagerly awaited the release of two horror movies featuring him: "Abigail" and "MaXXXine," as well as the sci-fi action film "The Electric State."

Additionally, he starred alongside Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker in the science fiction drama Francis Ford Coppola's "Megalopolis." The film will portray a rather frightening future: a New York destroyed by a disaster, with progressive ideas for its reconstruction facing resistance from the corrupt Mayor Frank Sisero. Details about Giancarlo's role are yet to be revealed.

Esposito will also play a leading role in the crime drama "Parish." His character, Gracian Gray Parish, is a taxi driver who gets caught up in an incredible whirlwind of events after agreeing to give a ride to a Zimbabwean gangster. Esposito also became one of the film's producers.

In addition, he expressed interest in playing Professor X from the famous "X-Men" comic series. Giancarlo shared his thoughts on how he would portray the character:
It would be great to play Professor X in some other form, not just in a wheelchair because the physical idea of being in a wheelchair every day doesn't appeal to me. I just don't feel that old, and I don't like sitting so much... Of course, we could come up with something. Professor X wasn't always in a wheelchair; it's part of the evolution of his character. I thought about it for some time, but not too long. Maybe one day I'll have an epiphany... and I would play this character with power, grace, and calmness. Someone who controls chaos but is also capable of lifting spirits and inspiring.

Interesting Facts

  • Giancarlo Esposito once starred in the brilliant music video "California" by Mylène Farmer, where he played two roles – that of a pimp and the heroine's boyfriend. Looking back on that period, the actor nostalgically remarked: "I played a dominant, aggressive, sexual type of character. There's a tension in the video; it's rough but at the same time very romantic. The video was directed by Abel Ferrara, and we finished it in four days. I recently saw a photo of Mylène and me in a French magazine – it was an unforgettable time."
  • Esposito is inspired by actor Sidney Poitier, the first black actor to win an Oscar.
  • He could binge-watch the series "Peaky Blinders" and even bought himself a cap like Thomas Shelby's.
  • The actor considers his weakness to be eating ice cream, but since he cannot do without daily exercise, he forgives himself this indulgence. He used to jog eight kilometers a day, cycle at least ten kilometers, and swim in the pool.
  • The actor believes that everyone should spend more time on themselves and their connection with the Universe.
  • If stranded on a deserted island, he would take a soccer ball, Tom Hanks as a "specialist," a bottle of water, and a knife.