RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — On day one of GalaxyCon Raleigh I caught up with Giancarlo Esposito.
Some know him as Gus Fring on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Most people in the Raleigh Convention Center know him as Moff Gideon from the series The Mandalorian. I remember him as Julian “Dean Big Brother Almighty” Eaves from the Spike Lee hit School Daze. No matter how you remember him, one thing is for certain: I had a chance to talk with him briefly before he met the fans on Thursday during a one-on-one question and answer session.
Question: How is it to be back out and about meeting fans at events again after being away for so long?
Answer: I’m so happy to be here at GalaxyCon in Raleigh, North Carolina. The key for me is to be around people who are excited, who are in wonder and expectation who are living out their dreams of being superheroes. After this pandemic, most people feel a little bit sheltered and a little bit lost, and I think coming to an event like this allows them to be acknowledged by someone like me. Someone who says “you are a superhero”. Just to be able to get here and be courageous enough to come out. Whether you’re vaccinated or not, we hope you are (able) to keep other people safe, and able to connect again – that’s what’s really important.
Question: When developing the characters you play, do you start from scratch or is there something you have from certain types of characters you will play?
Answer: I start with nothing each time I create a role and that’s been an interesting process for me. The building blocks sometimes resemble each other. Whether I’m playing a historical character, as I have recently done in Godfather of Harlem, I do a lot of research and find out who that character is. But I don’t really try to relate any character to another.
I try to allow the new freedom of creativity with each character to begin afresh and anew. There may be some personality differences or even similarities between some characters I play, but I really try to start with a clean slate and start from scratch each and every time. I find something in doing that, I find something new for example: the difference between Moff Gideon and the difference in Gus.
Gus is very comported and very contained, whereas Moff Gideon does all of his own badness. He’s able to fly the Tie Fighter, he is able to shoot. He is a little bit of a different character in that way, although stern and powerful there’s a reason behind it. As there is with other characters I play, like Gus, what he does and what I love about him is he is intricately available in terms of his intellectual process. He knows everything, you know, you have something I want. You may not think you know what you have, but it means the world to me. He’s very honest and very straightforward and tells you ‘hey, he’s like the gunslinger that says if you draw on me you’re gonna die, but if you don’t draw on me and you put your hands together and let me cuff you, you have a chance, the judge may let you live’, but that’s Moff Gideon.
Question: How interesting is it to see the large group of fans recognize you from your earlier Spike Lee films, and now from your work in Breaking Bad and the Mandalorian?
Answer: It’s really wonderful to see all the Spike Lee movie fans. The audience grows wider and larger with each day as young people start to realize that there’s a black culture of fraternity that they didn’t know existed. And, that there is a community in Atlanta that has African-American colleges where people who have never been able to have that experience go and see where some of the great minds, writers, artists come from.
There’s a very big difference between that particular audience and the audiences for Star Wars – one of the biggest franchises in the world. After the first movies, you know, I fell in love with Princess Leia, I wanted to be Darth Vader. I have some similarities to Darth in my character now, maybe except, I don’t wear the helmet and don’t have a covered head, but that is the world of dreams. Dreams are made in this world, this particular world, because you see all the very different grades of people who are struggling with light and dark and it’s a wonderful thing.
You can watch this wonderful show by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni that allow us to dream again to feel like we too can be super and the truth is we already are.