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Giancarlo Esposito reflects on dark thoughts before ‘Breaking Bad’ success: ‘That’s how low I was’

Esposito says he was near bankruptcy before appearing on "Breaking Bad."
/ Source: Variety

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources.

Giancarlo Esposito appeared on a recent episode of SiriusXM’s “Jim & Sam” show while promoting his new AMC drama series “Parish” and revealed that he was so broke prior to landing his iconic role of Gus Fring on “Breaking Bad” that he once considered arranging his own murder so that his children could have some financial protection courtesy of his life insurance money.

The actor considered this around 2008, a year before “Breaking Bad” inextricably changed his career and opened the door for roles in “The Mandalorian,” “The Boys” and more.

Asked how he got out of near bankruptcy around 2008, Esposito said, “My way out in my brain was: ‘Hey, do you get life insurance if someone commits suicide? Do they get the bread?’ My wife had no idea why I was asking this stuff. I started scheming. If I got somebody to knock me off, death by misadventure, [my kids] would get the insurance. I had four kids. I wanted them to have a life. It was a hard moment in time. I literally thought of self-annihilation so they could survive. That’s how low I was.”

“That was the first inkling that there was a way out, but I wouldn’t be here to be available to my kids,” Esposito added. “Then I started to think that’s not viable because the pain I would cause them would be lifelong, and there’d be lifelong trauma that would just extend the generational trauma I’m trying to move away from. The light at the end of the tunnel was ‘Breaking Bad.’”

Esposito appeared as Gus Fring on 26 episodes of “Breaking Bad,” then reprised the role on the prequel series “Better Call Saul” for 34 episodes. He told British GQ earlier this year that he is highly interested in playing Gus for a third time in a prequel series about the villain.

“Yeah, I would love that,” he said. “My backstory is he was a military guy who worked his way up through the ranks and could have become president, even possibly the dictator and have taken over. But he wanted to do something that could not be controlled by others, and he wanted to control his own destiny. And so he took off to create a new life for himself in America and become a meth dealer, a businessman.”

“I think, in his younger years, he was someone who could have been more Tony Montana,” Esposito continued. “But he worked his way into becoming level enough to listen, hear, and see through his emotional state. We would hope that it might be ‘The Rise of Gus.’”