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Bankrupt Giancarlo Esposito Contemplated Planning His Own Murder In Insurance Scheme Before Landing ‘Breaking Bad’ Role

Trigger warning: Giancarlo Esposito, known for his role as Gus Fring in “Breaking Bad,” revealed that the hit TV show saved him during a period of deep desperation. The acclaimed actor was contemplating planning his own murder as a means to secure insurance money for his family.

Photo via Instagram, @thegiancarloesposito

Esposito, a father of four, was struggling financially and unemployed at the time, a situation that took a drastic toll on him. Then, his pivotal role in “Breaking Bad” not only transformed his career but also provided a lifeline during a challenging period in his life.

What Esposito Planned and Why

Esposito opened up about the depths of his despair on SiriusXM’s Jim & Sam Show, on which he was promoting his new series “Parish.” According to the actor, he was concerned for his children’s future.

“My way out in my brain was: ‘Hey, do you get life insurance if someone commits suicide? Do they get the bread?’” Esposito told the hosts.

Esposito’s financial struggles stemmed from his divorce from his wife, Joy McManigal, in 2005. Following the divorce, he filed for bankruptcy, placing him in a precarious financial situation, with a bank preparing to foreclose on his house in Connecticut. 

Esposito: “I was a man up against the wall 10, 15 years ago — completely. Went bankrupt. Lost my house. Divorced, you know, wound up living in a goat barn for a while. … Didn’t know if I’d ever get my career back on track. Just didn’t have any sense of hope — that’s where Gray is — until a moment where I thought of some desperate ways to have my family survive,” he said.

He continued, “My [ex-]wife had no idea why I was asking this stuff. I started scheming. If I got somebody to knock me off, death by misadventure, [my kids] would get the insurance. I had four kids. I wanted them to have a life.”

The exact date of Esposito’s suicidal contemplation was not provided, but it was before his breakthrough role on “Breaking Bad,” which premiered in 2008.

Originally Esposito was supposed to have a small guest role on “Breaking Bad.” However, the creators realized how compelling the Gus character, the villainous drug kingpin and manager of the Los Pollos Hermanos fast food restaurant in the show, became under Esposito’s chilling portrayal. As a result, they upgraded Gus from a minor, two-episode character to a series regular starting in season 3.

It’s not that Esposito wasn’t a seasoned actor, having become a staple in early Spike Lee films in the late ’80s and early ’90s, such as “School Daze,” “Do The Right Thing,” “Mo’ Better Blues,” and “Malcolm X.” But “Breaking Bad” took him into a whole new realm in Hollywood.

Following that role, he received numerous opportunities, including starring roles in shows such as Amazon Prime’s “The Boys,” Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” and most recently, Netflix’s “The Gentlemen.” He also made an appearance in “Better Call Saul,” the prequel to “Breaking Bad.” He was almost cast as a cameo in the “Breaking Bad” spinoff movie “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” but he ultimately declined the offer. He believed that the film should concentrate only on the most important characters in Jesse Pinkman’s life, and Gus was not one of them, New York Magazine reported.

The extent of the turnaround “Breaking Bad” provided for Esposito reportedly included earnings of $65,000 per episode, according to Celebrity Net Worth, a figure that is not verified.

In 2013, around the start of “Better Call Saul,” Esposito purchased a $1.95 million home in Los Angeles, according to Celebrity Net  The following year, on April 26, 2014, he was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television.

His current estimated net worth is around $4 million.

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