Expect the Unexpected

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Giancarlo Esposito gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

From his humble appearance on Sesame Street with Big Bird to his killer performance as Gus Fring on Breaking Bad, Giancarlo Esposito has built a hige fan base.

From his humble appearance as a kid on Sesame Street to his killer performance on Breaking Bad as crime boss Gus Fring, Giancarlo Esposito is one of the hardest working actors in show business.

Giancarlo Esposito outside my newspaper office. —Bryan Haeffele photo

Giancarlo Esposito outside my office. —Bryan Haeffele photo

Actor Giancarlo Esposito is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!

The announcement was made last week in Hollywood after Jennifer Lopez was presented with the Walk of Fame’s 2,500th star.

Giancarlo Esposito is part of the “Class of  2014,” announced David Green, Chairman of the Walk of Fame selection committee. Other celebrities who will have their stars added next year include Orlando Bloom, Sally Field, Jessica Lange, Matthew McConaughey, Liam Neeson, and posthumously Phil Hartman and Tupac Shakur.

Quite a list, and I’m thrilled for Giancarlo Esposito, who I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing in 2011.

The interview didn’t fall into my lap. These things rarely do. I had to go after it. As a huge fan of the TV show Breaking Bad, I had just watched the season finale where Giancarlo Esposito’s character Gus Fring met a devastating demise. In my opinion, it was the most dramatic and exciting ending for a TV character, ever. Brilliance, Mr. Vince Gilligan, sheer brilliance.

The next day, we were discussing the show at my newspaper office and someone told me Giancarlo Esposito lived in Ridgefield, Conn, home of one of my company’s sister papers.

It was a thrill to meet Giancarlo Esposito, an actor and person I truly admire.

It was a thrill to meet Giancarlo Esposito, an actor and person I truly admire.

WHAT? I had to interview him! It would stick in my craw forever if I didn’t seize the chance. I pitched the idea to an editor, “It will be about how things are breaking good for a local actor,” I said. The story got the green light, and would run in Arts & Leisure Magazine which is distributed to a large number of the company’s papers to reach the most readers.

Now the hard part. How do I reach Giancarlo Esposito? I didn’t have his phone number or email, so I had to think, who would? If I went the usual studio PR route I wouldn’t get through. Everyone wanted to interview him after that explosive finale, I’d just be put on a “list.” I started making calls, hoping someone would know someone who would know someone. Pay dirt! I was able to reach Mr. Esposito directly and he graciously agreed to come to my office for an interview.

Giancarlo Esposito's character Gus Fring was so popular, Vulture website made a mask of him. He graciously signed a copy for my son.

Giancarlo Esposito autographed a “Gus Fring” mask for my son that Vulture.com created.

We had a really good talk. As the Danish-born son of an Italian father and African-American mother, Mr. Esposito has performed on stage since he was seven. He had a recurring role on Homicide: Life on the Street, but it wasn’t until Breaking Bad that he became a household name — and face!

He told a story about an encounter he had while waiting in line on an airplane to use the bathroom. A woman behind him looked at him and began hyperventilating, distressed to come in close contact with “dangerous mob boss” Gus Fring. “I re-assured her I wasn’t really Gus Fring, that I wouldn’t bite her, I was really a nice guy,” Mr. Esposito said.

And he is a nice guy. Devoted to his daughters, he often flies them across country when he’s filming, just to keep them close. He likes to tell jokes and has a passion for yoga.

He also has a huge social conscience. In 2008, before Breaking Bad came along, he poured his heart out into the film Gospel Hill, which he co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in, opposite Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, and Danny Glover. The film is about racial tensions in a South Carolina town that unite a black civil rights activist and a white sheriff. The kind of film you can tell comes from the heart.

His stint on Breaking Bad, led to bigger breaks. He has a recurring role on ABC’s Once Upon A Time, and is a lead in the futuristic series, Revolution on NBC. Along the way, Giancarlo Esposito has built a legion of fans. When I started following him on Twitter a few years ago he had 100 followers. Today he has 30,219.

This journeyman actor has come a long way, and judging from his tweets below, he is enjoying the ride. Congratulations Giancarlo Esposito!


Giancarlo Esposito’s tweets after learning he has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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