Keynote: Giancarlo Esposito
Friday, January 6
Giancarlo Esposito is a celebrated film, television, and stage actor, director, and producer with a career spanning nearly five decades.
Esposito is well known by television audiences for his iconic portrayal of drug kingpin Gustavo “Gus” Fring in AMC’s critically acclaimed, award-winning series “Breaking Bad,” for which he won the 2012 Critics Choice Award and earned a 2012 Emmy® nomination. He reprised his role in AMC’s critically acclaimed prequel “Better Call Saul,” which was nominated for an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Drama Series, and completed its run in 2022.
Esposito appeared in The Death Cure, the third film in 20th Century Fox’s hit blockbuster action franchise The Maze Runner, which debuted in 2018. He also starred in the second film in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, which was released in 2015. Esposito will also star in the upcoming film Shriver, alongside Thomas Haden Church.
Esposito narrated the Netflix series “Dear White People,” which launched on the platform in 2017. The 10-episode first season was based off of the critically acclaimed 2014 film of the same name. The series’ fourth and final season was released in 2021.
Esposito also had a recurring role in Baz Luhrmann’s critically acclaimed Netflix series “The Get Down,” which looks at the birth of hip hop in New York in the 1970s. He was also the 2014 and 2018 voice of the Winter Olympics for NBC.
Under his production company, Quiet Hand Productions, Esposito made his feature directorial debut with the film Gospel Hill, which won over nine awards at various acclaimed film festivals. In the film, he co-starred with Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, Julia Stiles, Taylor Kitsch, and Samuel L. Jackson. Quiet Hand Productions aspires to make “conscious content” films that focus on the inspirational. Esposito will direct, produce, and star as Frederick Douglass in the independent historical drama Patriotic Treason opposite 4-time Academy Award® nominee Ed Harris, who will play abolitionist John Brown.
Esposito directed his second feature, The Show, in which he also stars. The drama centers around a disturbing reality game show in which contestants end their lives for viewer entertainment. The film had its world premiere at the 2017 SXSW Festival and was released by Grindstone in theaters and on-demand the same year.
Esposito can also be seen in director Bong Joon-Ho’s 2017 sci-fi film Okja, alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, and Paul Dano. The film was released globally by Netflix. The story follows a Korean girl who risks everything to prevent a multinational company from kidnapping her best friend, a beast called Okja. The film had its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews.
Esposito also starred in director Claude Lalonde’s The Gift, opposite Sir Patrick Stewart and Katie Holmes.
Esposito’s most memorable performances can be seen in films such as Rabbit Hole, The Usual Suspects, Smoke, The Last Holiday, and Spike Lee’s films Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, School Daze, and Malcolm X. Esposito’s other film credits include The Jungle Book, Money Monster, Poker Night, Alex Cross, SherryBaby, Ali, Nothing to Lose, Waiting to Exhale, Bob Roberts, King of New York, and The Cotton Club. In 1995, Esposito was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his work in Fresh.
His other television credits include “Revolution,” “Community,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Homicide: Life on The Streets,” “Law and Order,” “Bakersfield PD,” “Touched by an Angel,” and “Kidnapped.”
Giancarlo’s notable roles extend to Broadway as well. In 2012, he starred in Atlantic Theatre Company’s world premiere of “Storefront Church,” which was the final installment of the trilogy “Church & State.” Esposito won two Obie Awards for “Zooman and The Sign” at the Negro Ensemble Company and “Distant Fires” at Atlantic Theatre Company, where he continues to perform and teach as a company member. His list of Broadway credits includes productions of “Sacrilege,” “Seesaw,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” and “Lost In The Stars.” He also co-starred on Broadway with James Earl Jones, Terrence Howard, and Phylicia Rashad in Debbie Allen’s rendition of the great classic Tennessee Williams play, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
Esposito is a yoga enthusiast and spends his free time riding his motorcycle and practicing the saxophone. He lends his support to various charitable organizations that support the arts and education, including the Waterkeeper Alliance, Kids for Peace, and World Merit USA.