Giancarlo Esposito Contemplated Arranging His Own Murder For Life Insurance Payout Before Being Cast In ‘Breaking Bad’

Giancarlo Esposito
Jim & Sam Show

Beginning in earnest with his breakout role as Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, Giancarlo Esposito has become one of the most prolific actors in modern television. From getting to reprise that role in Better Call Saul, to his villainous turns in Star Wars’ The Mandalorian and The Boys, Esposito is an on-screen force of nature who’s game for just about anything.

In a recent interview with Jim Norton and Sam Roberts (h/t Culture Crave) to promote his AMC series Parish, which he stars in and executive produces, Esposito opened up about how tough things got right before Breaking Bad, mentioning that he toyed with some very morbid schemes to better provide for his family.

These included thoughts of ending his own life, or setting up his own murder, in order to trigger a life insurance policy payout:

“My wife’s father — God rest his soul, Pops McManigal — was in insurance. And so I asked her, I started poking around. ‘How much am I insured for? And she told me. My way out in my brain was…’Hey, do you get life insurance if someone commits suicide? Do they get the bread?’ And my wife said, ‘Well that’s kind of tricky.’ She had no idea why I was asking this stuff…

Then I just started scheming: If I got somebody to knock me off, death through misadventure, they would get the insurance. I had four kids. I wanted them to have a life. Like it was a hard moment in time, I literally thought of self-annihilation so that they could survive. That’s how low I was.

So that was the first inkling that there was a way out, but I wouldn’t be here to be available to it, or be a part of it or be there for my kids. Then, I started to think, that’s not viable, because the pain I would cause them would be lifelong — and lifelong trauma that would just extend the generational trauma which with which I’m trying to move away from. The light at the end of the tunnel was Breaking Bad.”

Goes to show that cliché of never knowing what somebody’s going through, or has been through, can really hold true.

Until checking out this interview, I couldn’t have imagined that Esposito was in such dire straits. He seems so self-assured, with immense charisma and confidence often on display in his work.

Granted, acting is a fickle profession, and the entertainment industry is a beast to navigate. Nevertheless, given Esposito’s frequent early collaborations with Spike Lee and the raging success he’s enjoyed lately, I just assumed that he had a pretty steady career of work since those Lee joints like Do the Right Thing, School Daze and Malcolm X among others. Evidently, Esposito’s journey was a little more complicated and adversity-stricken than that.

Big ups to Esposito for being this open and vulnerable. He goes on to explain some other aspects of that difficult period in his life, and how whenever he’s found himself in that spot, all he tries to do is build. For instance, Parish was a product of the work Esposito continued to do throughout the pandemic when everything was shut down. The man is a grinder, and even as he’s about to turn 66 next week, Esposito is showing no signs at all of slowing down. Sure looks like he’ll just keep adding credits to his increasingly prolific filmography.

Esposito is in the horror movie Abigail that’s opening right now, and in July he’ll appear in MaXXXine, the third film in Ti West’s Mia Goth-starring X trilogy. Oh yeah, and Esposito has a key part in Francis Ford Coppola’s self-financed, $120 million passion project Megalopolis. That will have its official premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, hopefully followed by some sort of theatrical release. There’s no current distribution deal in place.

To say the least, Coppola’s long-gestating film is extremely intriguing.

Like whether it’s good or not, Coppola is one of the greatest directors of all-time, has a cast that includes Esposito, Adam Driver, Aubrey Plaza, Laurence Fishburne, and many others, and a wildly original story. What’s the challenge to market and sell that? Isn’t everyone thirsting for original story ideas, and apparently fatigued from superhero fare?

That’s neither here nor there. To tie this all back to Esposito, he was also just in the Netflix series The Gentlemen, which debuted in March, and has signed on for another show at the streamer titled The Residence. It’ll be set at The White House and follows an investigation into a murder at a state dinner. Giancarlo Esposito is inevitable! He cannot be stopped!

See what I’m getting at here? All these points just go to show how hard to believe it is that Esposito almost schemed to end his own life before all of this happened. And mind you, he was around 50 years old back when he was mulling these harebrained self-annihilation schemes. Talk about pulling yourself up off the mat. Damn.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock