Better Call Saul co-creator Vince Gilligan admits he did “everything as wrong as you could possibly imagine” in trying to get Breaking Bad actor Giancarlo Esposito to return to his character Gus Fring.
Luckily, the actor forgave him – and the result is Gus will feature in Better Call Saul season three, currently streaming weekly on Netflix UK.
Gilligan and Call Saul co-creator Peter Gould had always planned to bring Gus back, even hiding a cryptic clue in the episode titles of season two. The trouble was, they had set up the clue before asking Esposito whether he would actually do it…
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“I felt so foolish after that,” Gilligan says after fans solved the puzzle in double quick time. “I still think it’s fun to put little clues and hints and puzzles in whenever the spirit moves us. I was so surprised and ultimately felt like kind of a schmuck for how easily that was for everybody!”
Gould adds, “That’s the grand truth. I think our idea was that we would drop a little hint in between seasons and say, ‘Hey, you might want to take a look at those titles’. Instead, people had it down before even the last couple of title were released.”
Unfortunately for the showrunners, the first that Esposito knew about their plans for Gus Fring was when people started reporting that they had solved the clue.
“Of course the scariest detail about the whole process was that people figured it out before we even had a deal with the actor,” Gilligan said. “We did everything as wrong as you could possibly imagine! Thank God Giancarlo Esposito is such a wonderful human being.”
So, how did he talk Esposito round?
“The thing that drives him the most is he wants to do good work with good people, and he wants to make the best possible show he can make,” Gilligan says.
“His big concern, God bless him for it, was not about money or any of those things. His concern was, ‘I love this character Gus Fring, he was one of the highlights of my career, and I don’t want to come back to this if it’s not up to the level of quality of Breaking Bad’.
“That was our concern too – that’s always our concern going forward – and luckily we talked to him about it, once negotiations began in earnest.
“How do we ensure that the continuation of this characterisation is up to snuff? That was his concern, and we put his mind at ease as much as possible. People will see what came of it.”
We sure will.
Better Call Saul season three streams weekly on Netflix UK