5 Giancarlo Esposito's Lesser-Known Roles Before Breaking Bad

5 Giancarlo Esposito's Lesser-Known Roles Before Breaking Bad
Image credit: Legion-Media, MGM

Giancarlo Esposito wasn’t always playing the bad guy.

Most people recognize Giancarlo Esposito for his roles in Mandalorian, The Boys, Godfather of Harlem, Westworld, and of course, Breaking Bad.

While the role of the brilliant and calculating drug lord Gus Fring skyrocketed Esposito’s career, there are hidden gems in his career that showcased his talent as an actor long before Breaking Bad.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

One of Esposito's notable early roles was in Spike Lee's groundbreaking film, Do the Right Thing, released in 1989. Set in Brooklyn during a scorching summer day, the movie delves into the racial tensions and conflicts that arise in a diverse neighborhood.

Esposito played the character of Buggin' Out, a local resident who becomes increasingly agitated about the lack of black representation on the walls of a pizzeria.

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991)

In the movie Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, he starred alongside Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson, playing the character Jimmy Jiles.

It came out in 1991 and became a cult favorite, even though the critics weren't too thrilled about it.

Homicide: Life on the Street (1998–1999)

In the late 90s, Esposito had a recurring role in the critically acclaimed TV series, Homicide: Life on the Street. From 1998 to 1999, he played the character of FBI Agent Mike Giardello, bringing a mix of charm and authority to the role.

Esposito totally nails the role, and you can easily forget that he stepped in to take over after Andre Braugher left the show.

The Usual Suspects (1995)

But Homicide: Life on the Street wasn’t the first time Esposito portrayed an FBI agent.

In the 1995 film, The Usual Suspects, directed by Bryan Singer, that follows a group of criminals brought together for a mysterious heist, Esposito portrayed Jack Baer, an FBI agent investigating the criminals' activities.

Despite having a relatively small role, Esposito managed to leave a lasting impression.

Mo' Better Blues (1990)

In the 1990 Spike Lee film, Mo' Better Blues, Esposito demonstrated his musical prowess alongside his acting skills. Set in the world of jazz, the movie revolves around the life of a talented trumpet player named Bleek Gilliam, played by Denzel Washington.

Esposito portrayed the piano player Left Hand Lacey.