Breaking Bad almost missed out on its best villain, Gustavo Fring, due to early plans that would have limited the character’s role. Actor Giancarlo Esposito portrayed Gus for three seasons of the AMC crime drama. During much of that time, Gus served as Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) arch-nemesis and most dangerous rival.
Gus was first introduced in the back end of Breaking Bad season 2. The drug kingpin used the fast-food restaurant, Los Pollos Hermanos, as a cover for his illegal activities. Gus was initially against doing any kind of business with Walt, but he later agreed to buy large amounts of his meth. In season 3, Gus allowed Walt and Jesse to cook in his superlab. The partnership started to go south when Walt realized that another man was being groomed to take over the lab. Gus then grew into the prime antagonist for the second half of season 3 and all of season 4. The constant tension and deadly threats came to an end when Walt killed Gus in the season 4 finale.
Before Gus became the greatest villain in Breaking Bad‘s history, Esposito was initially only contracted for a one-episode guest spot. Before he returned home from his work on the episode, the Breaking Bad team contacted him to return for the season 2 finale. Esposito agreed to reprise his role, but he stated that would be the end of Gus unless they gave the actor a much more prominent role in the series. Yes, the series almost lost out on a character that would go on to be its greatest villain.
How Giancarlo Esposito Bargained For A Bigger Role In Breaking Bad
Following Esposito’s guest appearances in season 2, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and his team offered the actor a seven-episode stint in season 3. By that point, Esposito had fallen in love with the cast and crew. He also knew that his character was something special, so he declined the offer, stating that he would only return if he was bumped up to a regular character. Breaking Bad‘s producers were hesitant but Esposito put the ball in their court to up the offer. He was persistent in pushing the series into giving him a larger role, and ended up succeeding.
Esposito starred in all but four episodes of seasons 3 and 4. Breaking Bad‘s creative team was enamored by Esposito’s performance as a crime lord hiding in plain sight, and equally impressed with his chemistry alongside Cranston. Esposito used those aspects as leverage when pulling for a promotion, and it worked out very well in the end. Gus served as the most dangerous villain of Breaking Bad and a worthy foil for Walter White, and his popularity didn’t even diminish after the character’s death. Esposito was brought back to reprise the role of Gus for the prequel spinoff, Better Call Saul, which gave viewers more insight into the life of Gus before his time on Breaking Bad. The complex character is set to return when Better Call Saul season 5 debuts in 2020.