Giancarlo Esposito says he considered plotting his own murder when he was broke

Breaking Bad star thought if he had ‘death by misadventure’ his wife and four kids would get insurance payout

Shahana Yasmin
Friday 19 April 2024 07:42 BST
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Breaking Bad actor Giancarlo Esposito may be a household name now, but there was a time he was so down on his luck he considered hiring someone to murder him so his family would get an insurance payout.

The actor talked about going through two bankruptcies and a foreclosure on his home before he landed his iconic role as Gustavo Fring in Breaking Bad.

“My way out in my brain was, ‘Hey, do you get life insurance if someone commits suicide? Do they get the bread?’ My wife had no idea why I was asking this stuff,” Esposito recalled in an interview on SiriusXM’s Jim & Sam.

“I started scheming. If I got somebody to knock me off, death by misadventure, [my family] would get the insurance. I had four kids. I wanted them to have a life. It was a hard moment in time. I literally thought of self-annihilation so they could survive. That’s how low I was.”

This was around 2008, a year before Esposito’s turn as the villainous drug kingpin completely changed his luck. Even though Esposito had been working since the 1980s, it was only after his role in Breaking Bad that people took notice.

Giancarlo Esposito, from Spike Lee to Breaking Bad to his own material

“I started to think, that’s not viable because the pain I would cause them would be lifelong, and lifelong trauma that would just extend the generational trauma with which I’m trying to move away from,” he said.

“The light at the end of the tunnel was Breaking Bad.”

Esposito returned to play Fring in the spinoff Better Call Saul, but then decided against continuing.

“I did a guest spot on that show, and even then, after doing one guest spot, they come back to do another. They offered me a contract, I said, ‘No.’ It empowered me,” he said.

“The reason I said no is because it was the end of the third season and they wanted me to sign a contract where I had six months. They would have given me some money, which would have been great, would have been a holding fee, but I would have to go to them to say, ‘Can I do the Disney project? Can I do this? Can I do that?’ And I was in fear that they would say no. I also didn’t know what their intention was.”

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The actor has gone on to star in multiple major projects, like The Mandalorian, The Boys, and The Gentlemen.

However, the four-time Emmy-nominated actor isn’t completely against the idea of being a bigger part of the Breaking Bad universe. In an interview with British GQ in March 2024, he said he wouldn’t mind a prequel series centred on Gus Fring.

Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring in a still from Better Call Saul
Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring in a still from Better Call Saul (Shutterstock)

“Yeah, I would love that. My backstory is he was a military guy who worked his way up through the ranks and could have become president, even possibly the dictator and have taken over,” he said.

“But he wanted to do something that could not be controlled by others, and he wanted to control his own destiny. And so he took off to create a new life for himself in America and become a meth dealer, a businessman.”

Esposito is currently starring in Parish, based on the BBC One series The Driver, which follows Gracian “Gray” Parish, a New Orleans-based former getaway driver-turned law-abiding taxi entrepreneur whose life unravels after his son’s murder. Facing financial hardships, he entangles himself with a local Zimbabwe gang known for exploiting undocumented immigrants.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call or text 988, or visit to access online chat from the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to to find a helpline near you.

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