'Breaking Bad' face off: Gus Fring/Giancarlo Esposito talks about THAT SCENE

It’s safe to say that Walter White’s most formidable obstacle in his pursuit of wealth for his family and, increasingly, his assertion of himself as the dynamic force in his own life, has been Gus Fring, the deceptively meek fast-food-chicken store owner, philanthropist, and drug lord played by Giancarlo Esposito with consummate meticulousness in the season of Breaking Bad that concluded on Sunday night.

SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this unless you’ve watched the Breaking Bad finale. Well, we saw what messing with the now-relentless Walter gets you. Turns out the episode title “Face Off” was meant literally, as Gus lost half his head in an explosion deviously devised by White in collusion with Hector Salamanca. Savoring what he thought was a victory over his old nemesis, Gus was lured into a trap, as Hector detonated a bomb with that damn bell of his.

Certainly the most stunning visual of last night was the shot of Gus walking out of the exploded room in left-side profile, followed by a shot of him full-frontal, at which point we saw that half his face had been blown away, to reveal his skull and some bloody bits.

“That make-up took five hours,” says Esposito, who was flown from the show’s set in Albuquerque, NM, to Los Angeles under what he calls “top-secret” circumstances to have the exploded-face created. Working with special effects expert Howard Berger, Esposito had a full cast of his head made — “a bust of me,” he says, laughing — which was then transformed into half of a prosthetic face he could wear for filming.

“It was glued to the side of my head,” says the actor. “Howard is so meticulous, he put little craters in that part of my face, for where the explosion would have splintered what flesh was left.” Oh, and the little touch of straightening his tie before he collapses? “All in the script,” says the actor admiringly of show creator Vince Gilligan’s writing and directing of the episode.

Esposito, who is more voluble and warm than the character he plays (I know: how could he not?), says, “I was stunned when I first read the script.” The actor had had discussions with Gilligan in the middle of filming season four about the probable demise of Gustavo Fring. The character was, he says, “a great gift”: “It’s a little saddening that he’s gone, but who knows? He could come back in flashbacks, right?”

Oh, and one more thing: What about Gus’ uncanny instinct to walk away from his car in the show’s previous, penultimate episode? Debates ranged across the Internet about how The Chicken Man could have known or guessed that Walt had planted a bomb underneath it. Esposito has an answer:

“Gus returns to that vehicle, sees it there all by itself, and he said to himself, ‘Hmmm, I left no one with that car. I did not cover that angle. I am not going there.’ It’s pure instinct. I felt that in my soul, that Gus would have that reaction.”

What do you think?

Be sure to read Melissa Maerz’s full recap of the show.

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (117 total) Add your comment
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  • Ace

    One word: Wow.

    Amazing finale.

    • kate32

      My best friend has just announced her wedding with a great man who is a cele+brity!
      They met-via { millionaireluv`c`o’m}
      It is nice club for rich men or pretty girls mate.
      You do not need to be wealthy or famous, but you can meet your true love, it’s worthy a try.

      • Roger

        I do not ask God for much. I don’t want to bother Him.. But I am asking for a favor now, Please God, allow me to live long enough to see the final 16 shows. Amen.

      • God

        Look dude, I’m kinda busy at the moment with the whole world falling apart to worry about your problems. Satan is the one who is in charge of this industry, you can ask him directly yourselves.

      • Satan

        I’m a little busy doing deals with the politicians in Washington. If you want I can farm the task out to my minions in the Parents Television Council.

      • Parents Television Council

        We have no problem keeping you alive to watch the rest of the violent and bloody Breaking Bad. HOWEVER you HAVE to promise to not disrobe for the next year as per our agreement.

      • octoberman

        If Esposito doesn’t get the Emmy I’m gonna stop believing in God.

  • Matt

    Absolutely amazing finale. Cannot wait for the final 16 episodes to see how it all plays out. Walt vs Jesse vs DEA

    • wino

      ohhh, the showdown btw Walk and Jesse will be as golden as the showdown btw the guys and the DEA/Hank. oh my! i cannot wait. last nite was one of the best hours ive ever seen on television.

    • Howard Moon

      vs. Mike. He will be reckoned with.

    • Bennett

      I’m not convinced that Mike will be angry when he gets back. Remember he liked Jesse in the last few episodes. Maybe Jesse will explain to Mike how Gus had threatened them, and Mike just might understand why Gus had to go.

  • Michael

    Best tv show EVER! My jaw literally dropped as they showed Gus’ full frontal face shot, shutting me up after i said WHAATTT!? when they first showed Gus walking out. Awesome scene awesome show. Why in the world have they already decided to only do 16 more episodes?? cmon guys cant we drag it out for a few more seasons! I have been watching since episode 1 and thanks for the wildly entertaining albeit soon to be over, ride.

    • Slevine

      LITERALLY dropped? So you looked like Fring?

      • Peter

        “Dropped” does not have to mean “fell on the floor”. It can simply mean “rapidly descended”. There’s no reason Michael’s could not have literally dropped. Thanks for your pedantry.

    • AB

      Me too! My first reaction was “No fing way ,he walks away from that?! How did he walk away from that?” because he’s straightening his tie, then they show the full frontal and I gasped, my jaw dropped, and I just kept saying “holy s@$!” I think my eyes were as big as Hector’s were right before he started to press that bell.
      But I knew as soon as Jesse said it was Lily of the Valley that Walt had poisoned Brock. My mind went back to when he was playing spin the gun and I thought, “the gun ‘landed’ pointing away from Walt the third time, why? Gilligan never shows us anything that isn’t important at some point; why show us that?” And sure enough, they showed us the Lily in the backyard, the pot of flowers the gun had been pointing to.
      Genius, but it takes away all remaining sympathy from Walt. He IS Gus now, and he will go down. He’ll lose everything next season, and at the end of it, he’ll go down. I just hope he doesn’t take Jesse down with him.

      • Argent

        And why should Jesse be spared? Wasn’t Jesse producing a lethal, horribly addictive poison which doesnt just ruin lives, but entire communities? Did not Jesse murder Gayle?

        Jesse knew Jane was a recovering addict, but ended up doing meth with her (but let’s be honest, she wore the pants in that relationship) and she died.

        Oh, and how did he meet Andrea? Let’s see…he deliberately targetedpeople who were trying to recover from addiction. He was trying to SELL her meth, KNOWING she was in a weakened state.

        Jesse’s got some good qualities, no doubt about it. But he belongs either in jail or the grave- he is certainly no better than Walt.

      • Kaylee

        But Jesse is such a tragic figure. A lost boy who has no one (and keeps loosing everyone he cares for) and feels he is nothing. He turns to the only thing he knows how to do and the only person he THINKS cares about him. Poor poor Jesse. BUT, I hope next season is finally his. Give Walt what’s coming to him Jes!

  • bklyngirly

    Outstanding from beginning to end–that closing shot was a kicker. Emmy for Giancarlo Esposito. A great interview with Vince Gilligan was posted on the NY Times last night after the finale!

    • Elsa

      Giancarlo definitely deserves and Emmy. He was phenomenal. He will be greatly missed.

  • CG

    That was the sweetest scene in the finale. I thought at first he was alive when they showed the right side of his face til they showed his whole face and saw that half was blown off. Then he just staggers a couple of steps straightens his tie and dies

  • J

    Amazing. And the lilly of the valley mystery also. Every year I am left asking ‘What are they going to do next year”….and they always deliver. Too bad great series like this have planned obsolescence and crummy ones go on and on.

    • Ava

      Often though crummy ones that go on and on were once really great series.

  • jfms777

    This is the “Breaking Bad” man who deserves Emmy next year.

    • Mae

      can’t he tie with Aaron Paul?! I want them both to win!

      • wino

        maybe he can enter as a special guest star? leaving the supporting category to Aaron Paul?

      • Corinne

        I too was hoping he could be in it for a guest star Emmy leaving supporting to Paul or Norris, but according to an interview he gave, when he negotiated coming back for the season, it was as a supporting cast member. Looks like they’ll have a Modern Family type issue next year at award season, although, any of them are deserving of the honor.

      • Elsa

        Aaron is fantastic. But, he already won, and will be eligible for next season. Giancarlo only has one chance to win. He deserves it.

    • rob l

      deserves more than an emmy

      • wino

        fruit basket?

      • heehee

        bouquet and tiara like Melissa McCarthy’s win? lol

  • remmez

    Indeed and the emmy goes to!

  • Linda

    Once again, Walt saves Jessee’s ass. Love the finale with Gus’ look on his face when the bell is being rung. The light bulb was definitely on.
    And the little boy is fine (lily of the valley, stroke of genius). Great writing!

    • Kevin

      How did he “save” Jesse? He wouldn’t have even been involved in any of this if Walt hadn’t been playing puppet-master for 2 seasons now.

      • Q

        They were only on Gus’ bad side in the first place because of Jesse.

      • Ara

        Jesse was dealing with Krazy 8 and Emilio before he started working with Walt. Either one of them could very well have put a bullet between Jesse’s eyes WITHOUT Walt ever being involved. Or Jesse could’ve EASILY ended up like his best bud Combo. Neither one would necessarily be better off without the other at this point.

      • Anonymous

        I agree Kevin. Jesse would never have been in this mess at all if Walt hadn’t blackmailed him into cooking in the first place. Walt is a bad man. Jesse needs to finally break free of him.

      • Q

        Even if Walt had never gotten Jesse to cook with him in the first place, Jesse wasn’t exactly a good person. He was a drug dealer and a junkie. The way Jesse’s life was going before he met up with Walt, his life probably would have turned out bad anyway.

      • malaw

        This looks like a fun widdeng! The setting is gorgeous! We went to a widdeng last fall that had a photo booth. They cut the pics apart on the strips and put them beside your name in a guest book which I thought was cute. I love widdengs!

  • Bubblegum

    Who are they going to give the Best Supporting Actor Emmy to? Esposito has been brilliant. Aaron Paul has been brilliant. Jonathan Banks (Mike) has been brilliant. Dean Norris (Hank) has been brilliant. I think in the end it will be an Esposite vs Paul situation but DAMN, it should just be a two-way tie. This season was a mind-blower.

    • Josh

      Who else do you give the Emmy to? The cast of Modern Family! They’re so good they should be nominated in all categories! Seriously though, Esposito.

      • A

        As far as comedies go, the cast of Parks and Recreation > cast of Modern Family.

  • Joe

    if Esposito doesn’t win the Emmy next year than there is something very wrong with the Emmys!

    • Joe


      • Nabila

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  • bill

    my sisters friend makes $50 an hour on the internet. She has been unemployed for 8 months but last month her cheque was $6200 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go here Ca shHa rd.c om

  • Tyler

    What about giving a best supporting actor nod to the guy who plays Hector Salamanca? What a great performance.

    • TR

      Yeah And without saying one word! That’s acting at its best. ding ding ding

      • Darrin

        A… E… I… O…. DING! That whole bit was hilarious.

    • MarcDom7

      I think he’d be put up for Guest Actor instead. And it’s up to the show whether or not they want to put up Esposito for Guest or Supporting.

  • Mae

    This show better win Best Drama – I can’t believe it’s never even been nominated for the Emmy in that category.

    • Joe

      Mae, it was nominated for Best Drama in 2009 and 2010.

      • Mae

        ack – i meant won.

  • Anitamargarita

    I just wanted to commend the Headline writers for putting out something that clued in those in the know what it was about without spoiling it for those who haven’t yet seen it.

    • ries

      not really. it’s the title of the episode. quit being a female dog.

    • Kelley

      What are talking about ries? Do you have a problem with reading comprehension? Or are you a troll?

      • Sanja

        everybody has been in a children choir, iuenldcd me but I still lack of range and captivating vocal timbre, yep he uses an instinctive technique which works for him, but not for other types of voice, also brian johnson is the same, so seeking for lessons cause your goal is singing like axl or brian is just stupid, there’s nothing academic on them. it’s just pure nature

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