Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Remember Victor, Gus Fring's faithful overseer in the "Breaking Bad" meth lab?


If you can survive the full half-minute commercial, you'll see the principals of last season's Breaking Bad opener --- Bryan Cranston (Walter), Aaron Paul (Jesse), the unforgettable Giancarlo Esposito (Gus), and one of the executive producers, Michelle MacLaren -- talk about the events leading up to the shocking moment that's discussed at length in a new AMC interview with Jeremiah Bitsui, who played Gus's unfortunate lackey Victor.

by Ken

It's almost June, which means it's nearly almost July, and July 15 is when we get the premiere of Season 5 of AMC's Breaking Bad. The word is that this final season is going to be shown in two eight-episode arcs. Sixteen episode should be plenty of time for Walter and Jesse to get themselves and their loved ones into more -- and more gruesome -- trouble than any mere mortal should be able to imagine.

It's presumably thoughts of a Season 5 opener that set the wonderful gremlins at the AMC blog (often saluted here) to looking back to the Season 4 opener. When I saw this new interview with Jeremiah Bitsui, who played Gus's henchman Victor, I confess I didn't at first remember who the heck Victor was. As I read the interview, it came flooding back. And then with a mixture of eagerness and trepidation, I watched the clip thoughtfully provided. Ooh, poor Victor!
"You know, up until that point I'd never died in anything before. As a viewer, the first time I watched it was the premiere in L.A. Everyone was shocked and freaked out. It was a little eerie, the tone in the room." Jeremiah also reveals places he's most often recognized: Albuquerque, New York, and . . . well, you'll see.

Q&A -- Jeremiah Bitsui (Victor)

Actor Jeremiah Bitsui who plays Gus's erstwhile henchman Victor on AMC's Breaking Bad, talks to AMCtv.com about what it's like to get killed on set and why he gets recognized in unlikely places.

Q: The box cutter! What was it like getting your throat slit in the Season 4 premiere?

A: They brought me into a special effects house in North Hollywood and fitted me with the prosthetic that went around my neck. We practiced the choreography and we did a bunch of tests to see how the squirting was. I would get a little sponge bath in between takes but still there was blood on everything. There was so much blood shooting it that day that by the end of it my underwear was soaked. I've never done anything like that before.

Q: Were you bummed that your time on the show was over?

A: I was originally going to be in only one episode in Season 2, so when I found out that I was in Season 3 I was amazed. Everyone would look at me like I was a dead man walking because most bad guys hadn't lived that long up to that point. I was just thankful to have died that way rather than in a big gunfight and just been randomly shot.

Q: That scene inspired a lot of strong reactions, was it hard for you to watch as a viewer?

A: Yeah, you know, up until that point I'd never died in anything before. As a viewer, the first time I watched it was the premiere in L.A. Everyone was shocked and freaked out. It was a little eerie, the tone in the room.

Q: We don't learn much about Victor outside of his work for Gus. What did you imagine him to be like?

A: I didn't see him as a thug. I thought of him maybe as just a younger guy with a military background. Maybe he knew a lot about arms, explosives and warfare. I thought of him being comfortable with being a utility or tool, but of course later you realize that Victor does want to be higher up in the food chain. I grew up in and out of Albuquerque and I knew a lot of no-nonsense guys from somewhat shady backgrounds, so I had a wealth of people and characters to draw on.

Q: How did you land the role as Victor? Were there any other roles you auditioned for?

A: When I first read for Breaking Bad, it was actually a different role. This girl got it and I met her in the audition, but I had wanted that role. When I left the audition the casting director ran out -- and this was a signature thing for her -- and she grabbed me and was like, "We want you to read for another role." She gave me this cold read for the character that became Victor.

Q: Does anybody ask you about what it was like to play a bad guy on Breaking Bad?

A: Victor never really did anything horrible -- he wasn't like a gross character -- but what was amazing was a lot of people would come up and be like, "Oh, you were so bad, you were so mean." And I was like, "I never did anything or killed anybody!" When I create a character that is considered kind of a bad guy, I always try to find their redeeming qualities.

Q: You've acted in a bunch of big productions like Natural Born Killers. Has your role as Victor given you the most visibility?

A: Yeah, you know. I was really blessed enough to have been a part of Natural Born Killers, but Breaking Bad was awesome. The amount of times I'll get recognized in the rest room is really funny. Some guy this weekend was like, "Yo, Vincent!" and I was like "um," and he was like "Oh, Victor!" The three places I'm most recognized are Albuquerque, New York, and the rest room for some reason.


In it he revealed that Breaking Bad's imaginary chicken franchise, Los Pollos Hermanos, was actualy an Albuquerque Twisters ("a great chicken joint"): "We fry up the chicken in there and I do my favorite recipes back there behind the fryer along with the prop people. I love being there because the smell of that fried chicken really gets me going."

Asked if he "ever feel[s] like Gus carries over into your life off set," Giancarlo replied:
I was walking in New York going to meet a friend the other day and I started laughing to myself because I realized my posture was completely Gus-like. I said to myself, "Who is this right now? Is Gus taking over my spirit completely?" [Laughs] I've done my best to sort of grow my hair a little bit after playing Gus to sort of release him and let him go for awhile.

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