Giancarlo Esposito Talks Starring in the New Play, ‘Storefront Church’ and His Career: “It was a long journey to find myself”


Actor Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito, best known for his role as murderous Gustavo Fring on AMC’s Breaking Bad, is starring in John Patrick Shanley‘s new play, Storefront Church. The show, which also stars Ron Cephas Jones and Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins, is part three in a series that also includes the acclaimed play Doubt.  In an interview with The New York Times, Esposito spoke about his career that has spanned over 47 years (he started when he was just seven.)

Growing up, Esposito struggled with acceptance because of his multi-ethnic background (he’s half-Italian, half-Puerto Rican.) He said, “It was a long journey to find myself.  Partly that journey has been to seek out characters where I could just be human and didn’t have to represent a color, so that I could strengthen that in myself, so I didn’t have to fall into taking sides.”

The actor first broke out in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing in 1989, and then again gained rave reviews on Breaking Bad.  He also appeared this year on ABC’s Once Upon a Time in three separate roles: reporter Sidney Glass, the Magic Mirror, and Genie.  Esposito said, “I have been called a chameleon, and I rather like that because it means that the things I choose are never the same.  I don’t want to play myself over and over again.”

Despite his new small-screen success, Esposito is excited about his return to the theater.  The 54-year-old has a special connection to the role of Donaldo Calderon saying that the “play is resounding for me in that in the last economic downturn I had a house that went into foreclosure. And my mother, after being an opera singer, became a minister and had a little storefront church in our home in Elmsford, N.Y.  She called it a Place of Light Continuing.  I think Shanley must have channeled my life, or my life must be very much like his.”

Esposito’s next project is as Captain Neville in J.J. Abram’s new series Revolution.  The show will be airing on NBC in the fall, and Storefront Church opens June 11 at the Atlantic Theater.

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