'Awards Chatter' Podcast — Giancarlo Esposito ('Better Call Saul')

The great character actor reflects on his four collaborations with Spike Lee, subsequent struggles that left him suicidal and the career renaissance made possible by Vince Gilligan's 'Breaking Bad' and its prequel.
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"I feel so grateful," says actor Giancarlo Esposito as we sit down at the offices of The Hollywood Reporter to record an episode of THR's 'Awards Chatter' podcast. The 61-year-old, who is one of the most respected character actors in the business, has excelled for over a half-century on radio, stage and screens big and small, most notably in four films directed by Spike Lee, including the 1989 classic Do the Right Thing, and two TV series overseen by Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad (2009-2011) and its prequel, Better Call Saul (2017-), playing the fastidious Los Pollos Hermanos proprietor/drug kingpin Gustavo 'Gus' Fring on both.

Today, Esposito is riding high — the best supporting actor in a drama series Emmy nom that he received in July for Better Call Saul, seven years after being nominated in the same category for Breaking Bad, makes him one of only a handful of performers ever nominated for playing the same character on multiple shows. But it wasn't that long ago that Esposito, depressed about a failing marriage and career, found himself at the wrong end of a 12-gauge shotgun, ready to take his own life. He is "grateful," he says, because, "I have had the ability to recover — flip my head back around, take that gun out of my mouth, go get help, go to a rehab, do all of the things that I needed to do to get my head together, and then allow myself to see the positive side of my existence." Another Emmy nomination is thrilling, he acknowledges — "But I've won already."

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LISTEN: You can hear the entire interview below.

Past guests include Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Gal Gadot, Warren Beatty, Angelina Jolie, Snoop Dogg, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Colbert, Reese Witherspoon, Aaron Sorkin, Margot Robbie, Ryan Reynolds, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matthew McConaughey, Kate Winslet, Jimmy Kimmel, Natalie Portman, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Gervais, Judi Dench, Quincy Jones, Jane Fonda, Tom Hanks, Amy Schumer, Justin Timberlake, Elisabeth Moss, RuPaul, Rachel Brosnahan, Jimmy Fallon, Kris Jenner, Michael Moore, Emilia Clarke, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Helen Mirren, Tyler Perry, Sally Field, Spike Lee, Lady Gaga, J.J. Abrams, Emma Stone, Ryan Murphy, Julia Roberts, Jerry Seinfeld, Dolly Parton, Will Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Carol Burnett and Norman Lear.