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SPOILER ALERT: "Revolution" storyline and character spoilers ahead.
On "Breaking Bad," he was a seemingly mild-mannered fried chicken entrepreneur who doubled as a cunning, international drug lord. On "Revolution," he was a even-tempered insurance adjustor who became a deceptive militia leader in a post-apocalyptic world. Viewers have loved Giancarlo Esposito in both series, and in a chat with Yahoo TV, the Emmy nominee discusses the possibility that we might see both Gustavo Fring and Tom Neville in primetime again.
Esposito, who in the space of 10 days this month will have turned 56, gotten a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and finalized a divorce, tells us there's great heartbreak and rage ahead for Neville in the last four episodes of "Revolution" in Season 2, as he deals with the death of his son.
As for Gus, Esposito tells us under what circumstances we could see the character on the upcoming "Breaking Bad" spinoff series "Better Call Saul"... and how he would be very happy to star in "The Rise of Gus," his own "BB" spinoff.
"Revolution" returns after a heartbreaking episode, and Tom is going to have to deal with the death of his son. What is his journey going to be like across these final four episodes of the season?
It's a depressed place that Tom gets to in regard to his family. He is a man who came from nothing, a very good man who was crapped on. He was mistreated. He lost his job. He had to learn to survive. He became a soldier. His family is everything to him, and this is going to be the test of his mettle. Is he a good man or a bad man? This is what I'm constantly asking. I feel like with characters like Tom, or as complicated as he is… you don't know. This is the test. When people are under duress, do they get nicer? Do they get meaner? [Laughs.] You know what I mean? When we're under pressure, it tells something about us. I know it from my own experience. I want to be nice, but things are going wrong. Then out of the fear of that and the pressure of that determines who I really am. It's like a character builder. I'm appreciative of our really great writing. [Series creator] Eric Kripke has really created a show that I think has such great potential. I think it has the ability to go even deeper.
What might a Season 3 Tom be like?
Tom is going to be on a rampage. He's hurt deeply, and when you have nothing to live for, you do some things that maybe you're not going to be proud of later. It's going to be very interesting to see. The ending of our season is steeped with that angst. I'm hoping that we are able to get a pickup for the third season just to be able to explore who he really is. Really take the mask off. I think he'll have to go through some dark nights to come out the other end and realize he made some mistakes. That scene where he's talking to Jason, and he says, "Don't turn your back on me. Come back here." His son walks away from him. I had those moments with my father where you just cut the tie. You want to be your own man; you don't want to be told what to do anymore. And all that your parents have done to teach you to be a great human being is in there, but at some point you've got to walk away from it because you have to do the work. That moment resounds for me… that is where Tom is at right now.
We have to ask about "Better Call Saul," the upcoming "Breaking Bad" spinoff. Has there been any talk about you appearing as Gustavo Fring, one of the greatest characters in TV history, on "Saul"?
I would love to. I love Vince [Gilligan]. I love what he does. I've got to wait to see what the show is. I'm really on the fence. I've got to be really honest with you. When the show ended, I was so quick to say I would go back and do anything Vince does. I still feel that way, but part of me knows [Gus] is an icon. I did "Do the Right Thing"… it's the 25-year anniversary of that [in June]. That guy [Buggin' Out] became iconic. I don't want to go back and take away anything. When Spike [Lee] asked me to go back and do the sequel to "Do the Right Thing," "Red Hook Summer," I said no. That felt like that guy is done. And these characters will live on way beyond me. People call me Gus on the street. They don't even know my name.
I'm really having a hard time figuring out how I would ever go back and [play Gus] again. Not that I don't feel like I could do it. I feel like maybe this has got to live on just the way it is, because it's bigger than me. It's greater than me. I have to be in deep prayer to figure it out… to go back and do one or two episodes as Gus, I don't know. I know they could render it real. They'd have to show me a script, and I'd have to decide.
Part of the reason viewers want to see Gus again is that there's still so much more about him we want to know. Do you feel like that too?
Yes. Absolutely I feel that. But if it's not going to be about Gus … you know, look, I'm very clear that "Breaking Bad" was the story of Walter White. Not the story of Gus. The show changed when Gus came on. Everyone tells me it became a different show, "You made the show," all that stuff. That's all great for my ego, but unless I can go back and really explore Gus — and that's not going to happen in one episode — then I don't want to do it. I know that Vince had two [ideas] in mind: "Better Call Saul" or "The Rise of Gus." If I can go back and do the rise of Gus, I'll do it. Because that's a complete investigation. If it's not going to be a complete investigation, and this is not about my ego … it's like, there's more to be told about Gus. I want to tell it. I just don't want to just sort of tell it. [Laughs.] You know?
If Vince and AMC wanted to do a separate Gus spinoff series, would you be on board with that?
Are you kidding me? Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, that's interesting to me. I certainly would. That would be fulfilling and wonderful. Gus has his own breath, his own life, and if I could go back and do that or do more than one episode on "Saul" and really learn about Gus, I would do it. I want the fans to be satisfied. I really honor the fans now, and I know what that means to me on a different level then I ever understood before. The ["Breaking Bad"] fans are bright, wise, and smart, and I want to serve them as well, but I would want to do it completely. Not just a little taste. I don't think that would honor the life of this character that Vince created for me and that I stepped up to, [where] we inspired each other and [what Gus] became.
You know, just considering the possibility of this, fans are never going to stop talking about and wanting to see "The Rise of Gus."
[Laughs.] Well, tell Vince.
This has been an all-around good April for you, with these big episodes of "Revolution," a birthday — Happy Belated — and you got a star on the Walk of Fame on Tuesday. How much does that mean to you?
It's almost surreal. In fact, it is surreal, not even almost surreal. I'm pinching myself to try to get with the program and stay present, understand what's really happening. [Laughs.] You know what I mean? I walked down that street when I was starting to do this… I walked down Hollywood Boulevard at 10 years old, and I used to love some of the older actors, who my kids don't even know who they are. Glen Ford, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Gene Hackman... Paul Newman, who became a friend of mine. I worked with Burt Lancaster. Bette Davis, I worked with when I was young. All their names are on that street, and I don't think I ever imagined that I would be joining those ranks. I tell my kids, they'll be able to walk on me forever now. [Laughs.] If they ever need to walk on Papa, have any aggression or angst, they can just walk Hollywood Boulevard and stomp on my star. Or they can regard it with a great reverence, as I will be doing.
"Revolution" returns Wednesday, April 30 at 8 p.m. on NBC.