Giancarlo Esposito (Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito)
Actor, director and producer (Copenhagen, Denmark, 26.4.1958)
Giancarlo Esposito is an American actor, director and producer. He is best known for his portrayal of Gustavo “Gus” Fring on the AMC series Breaking Bad. He is well known for his roles in Spike Lee films such as Do the Right Thing (1989), School Daze (1988), and Mo’ Better Blues (1990). Other notable films include The Usual Suspects (Brian Singer, 1995) and King of New York (Abel Ferrara, 1990).
Esposito was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of an Italian father, Giovanni Esposito, and an African-American mother, Elizabeth Foster. 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 6. 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. 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.
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. 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 had roles also in three films involving Italian production companies. In the 1990s he acted notably in the above mentioned King of New York, alongside Lawrence Fishburne, Wesley Snipes and Theresa Randle, and in Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth (in Italy released as Taxisti di notte, 1992), starring also Isaach de Bankolé, Pascal N’Zonzi, and Emile Abossolo M’bo. In 2016 he is the guest star of the first feature film starring comical trio The Pills (Luca Vecchi, Luigi Di Capua, Matteo Corradini), directed by Luca Vecchi, in the role of Tyler Bangla .
King of New York (Abel Ferrara, 1991, ff, act), Taxisti di notte (Jim Jarmusch, 1991, ff, act), The Pills – Sempre meglio che lavorare (Luca Vecchi, 2016, ff, act)
Frame taken from:
The Pills – Sempre meglio che lavorare. Dir. Luca Vecchi. EatMovie, Mediaset Premium, Ifitalia Gruppo BNP Paribas, De Rigo Vision, 2016.
Contributors: Leonardo De Franceschi
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