Wednesday, January 14, 2015

TV Watch: "Better Call Saul" is almost here. (Patience, people! It's just a few more weeks.) Now how 'bout "The Rise of Gus"?


"Money is not 'beside the point.' Money is the point."
-- Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), aka Saul Goodman,
in AMC's Better Call Saul

by Ken

Thanks for clarifying that, Saul . . . er, Jimmy. Note that as we edge closer to the two-night premiere of Better Call Saul, February 8 and 9, AMC has released this "extended trailer."

Which still leaves the matter of a second possible Breaking Bad prequel that has been discussed, The Rise of Gus. While rummaging around online, I found this interview with Giancarlo Esposito which was posted in May 2014. You've probably seen it, but I hadn't.

Amid the enormous gallery of memorable characters created by the Breaking Bad team, two always stood out for me as just plain riveting -- Saul Goodman, of course, but also the chicken magnate who happened also to be a big-time vicious drug lord, Gus Fring. In this interview Giancarlo has lots of fascinating things to say about the way he fleshed out a character who was originally written as a waiter appearing in one or maybe two episodes. By the time he got off the plane after finishing that first episode, he tells us in the interview, his phone was ringing asking him back. He also talks fascinatingly here about the experience of working with Bryan Cranston.

Giancarlo tells us that a phrase he was given by BB mastermind Vince Gilligan triggered his imagination in creating Gus: "hiding in plain sight." From that germ he imagined the character who was so meticulous and methodical and also personally gracious -- "someone we all might know" who is at the same time "doing something quite different from what we might expect."

In particular, Giancarlo talks about his hope that we may yet see a Rise of Gus spinoff from BB. Apparently Vince G and his people talked to the AMC people about spinning off either Gus or everybody's favorite shyster, Saul Goodman, and the Saul project, being more fully developed in the creative team's minds and also promising to be fun to do, won out.

As of the time of the interview, Giancarlo said he'd been asked to make an appearance on Better Call Saul, but said he was inclined to pass, to leave the Gus we know fully created, unless he could do several episodes which would allow us to see more of who Gus was. I have no more recent information, so I have no idea how those conversations turned out, but Giancarlo is awfully persuasive in suggesting that the way should be wide upon for showing us The Rise of Gus.

One thing we certainly saw in BB, thanks to Giancarlo's incredibly meticulous portrayal, was Gus's almost compulsive attention to detail just as a businessman, in the no-detail-too-small-to-obsess-over, service-driven way he ran Los Pollos Hermanos, his chicken restaurant. Back in the day, before I had Gus's name lodged in memory, in chatting with our Noah and about BB, I always referred to this guy, who after all was a big-time drug lord, as "The Chicken Guy." And while it's true that, as Giancarlo says, Gus was always hiding something, he also thinks there's more to his personality as "a citizen of our society," with a deep sense of responsibility that was shown in the elaborate lifetime-care plan he arranged for his chemist.

(I think my next two nominees for BB Hall of Fame-dom would be Jonathan Banks's Mike, Saul's one-man clean-up and enforcement squad, and David Costabile's Gale, Walter White's spectacularly competent meth-cooking assistant -- who, come to think of it, in the end, long after his own demise, is responsible for Walter's.)

Giancarlo would also like us to see Gus's prehistory in Chile, and what happened to twist this scion of a prominent family, whom he imagines as a "rogue son" in the manner of Osama bin Laden. He makes clear that he's happy for everyone involved in what became Better Call Saul, but he thinks there's still room for, say, a 13-episode Rise of Gus.

I find references fromJune and July in which Giancarlo continued to talk up the Rise of Gus idea, but I have no more recent information. So how 'bout it, Vince and AMC?

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At 6:36 PM, Blogger CNYOrange said...

Although I loved the Saul Goodman character I actually think a show based on Gus has better potential. How can't a show featuring a "hiding in plain site" drug lord be great?

I seem to remember a character played by Steve Bauer whom Gus ended up killing, he would be a great reprise also.

At 7:37 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

I'm guessing Vince G and his people won't need much selling, CNYO, so if we can just sell the AMC folks . . . Listening to Giancarlo E talk about it, it sounds like he's already got 13 episodes' worth of story ideas.


At 6:33 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

"How can't a show featuring a "hiding in plain site" drug lord be great?"

There was this show called Breaking Bad... It was great


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