Giancarlo Esposito Pitches a Breaking Bad Prequel About the Rise of Gus Fring

Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul star Giancarlo Esposito reveals his pitch for a Gilligan-verse prequel called The Rise of Gus Fring, about the drug kingpin's shadowy past. Esposito originated the character in the Vince Gilligan-created Breaking Bad, playing the crime lord who buys and sells the meth cooked by Walter White (Bryan Cranston), and reprises the role in prequel series Better Call Saul. As the spinoff heads into its sixth and final season, where chief rival Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) targets Fring's drug empire, Esposito envisions a prequel shedding light on the secret history only hinted at in Breaking Bad:

"I have this whole storyline in the back of my head that he came from political royalty," Esposito told Esquire. "I feel like Gus came from the world of order. And that his order came. He was a military man. Out of the military, he gained the ability to observe. You can't lead unless you can follow."

He continued, "In my brain, he was high up in a military government. He could have stayed there and ran the country. It was handed to him. But he chose a different path to be his own man and to find his own power, regardless of what he was handed. This is what he chose."

In Breaking Bad, it's learned Fring is a Chilean national who emigrated from Chile to Mexico and then from Mexico to the United States. DEA Agent Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) is unable to uncover any information about Fring older than 1986, and arch-enemy Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) insinuates Fring was a general in Augusto Pinochet's military when he refers to him as "generalissimo."

Fring and Don Hector become heated enemies when, in Season 4 episode "Hermanos," a late 1980s-set flashback reveals Hector murders Max Arciniega (James Martinez) during an attempted deal gone bad. Fring and Arciniega were close friends and business partners, and may have had a romantic relationship.

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Esposito reports "being told I have a lot to do" in Saul Season 6, which the actor says could begin filming in March after a months-long delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic. After the release of spinoff movie El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, about White's drug-dealing partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) set after the Breaking Bad series finale, Gilligan said he had no plans to continue the Bad universe after ending Saul.

"I don't have any plans right now to do anything more with the Breaking Bad universe except for helping [Saul showrunner] Peter Gould and the writers finish up Better Call Saul. Having said that, I have surprised myself in the past, clearly," Gilligan told Entertainment Weekly in 2019. "But I'm starting to think — I used this expression a lot [when Breaking Bad ended] in 2013 — I don't want to overstay my welcome. I hope I haven't at this point."