Giancarlo Esposito can arguably be called the king of peak TV, playing a key role in some of the most critically acclaimed TV of this era. Just this past year, he appeared in Disney Plus’ “The Mandalorian,” Netflix’s “Dear White People,” Cinemax’s “Jett,” Amazon Prime Video’s “The Boys,” Epix’s “Godfather of Harlem” and, of course, AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” In the latter, the extremely well-rounded actor continues to revisit his iconic “Breaking Bad” character, Gus Fring, who this season methodically recruited Mike (Jonathan Banks) to be his henchman by demonstrating a sort of elegance that his rivals, the Salamancas, lack.
Esposito: Gus knows a lot about Mike. And he knows that Mike, probably out of all of the characters in our show, could be closest to himself. What Gus sees in him is incredible potential and incredible loyalty. Mike is a lone wolf but so is Gus. But Gus wants to cultivate that because he needs something from Mike.
[In Episode 5], Gus speaks very personally to him. He says to him, “Look, do you really want to go on living the life you live? Fighting with street punks? Basically being angry and belligerent? You could be doing something else that might be more fulfilling.” So he shares a very interesting piece of information with Mike in that scene [at a Mexican villa where Gus has taken him]. There are people with guns. There’s all this strong-arm fear happening, keeping these people here. But the more the story is unfolded through Mike’s eyes — down to the children running from school and the little girl dropping her knapsack — he starts to see more of a utopian village that Gus has in mind. He gets a glimpse into what Gus is really trying to figure out on a larger scale. Gus has a bigger vision than Mike ever imagined.
This particular episode is really beautiful in a way, because this conversation takes place around a memorial to someone that Gus lost who he really believed in and invested in, who was taken away from him by the Salamancas. Gus is adamant in saying, “I’m not like them.” He’s trying to elevate the business. He’s more than likely trying to take fewer lives and allow a smoother operation to take place. And this is all jammed up and has become quite muddled by this younger Salamanca, Lalo, who’s a hothead who wants to do it his way. So Gus knows he needs Mike to be able to straighten things out. And he needs Mike to know that he will take care of him in every way possible.
I can’t say that Gus doesn’t have some of those [psychopathic] qualities [like Lalo does]. But when you mature and you realize, “Oh, wow, look at my 20s and 30s. I was a maniac!” — that’s not to say I’m not a maniac now, but at least I can take a step back and think through what my actions might be, and take responsibility for them. That’s the difference between maturity and non-maturity: I’m going to take a second, think about what I’m going to say before I speak it. Think about what I really want, what the endgame is, what the long game is, and how to straighten this out so we can remain anonymous as a business, but move forward in our greater remuneration.