It's not like Breaking Bad has any shortage of creepy villains – but once Giancarlo Esposito showed up as the homicidal meth lord Gus Fring, the show officially came into its own as the most stomach-wrenching crime drama of our time. Gus, an apex predator in a sweater vest, keeps his allies even more terrified than his enemies. His killings are all the more shocking for being completely emotionless business transactions: He kicked off the season by gouging his own henchman's throat with a box cutter, just to let Walter White, the high-school-chem-teacher-turned-meth-cook, know what it feels like to take a bath in a weaker man's blood. Esposito – best known for his work with Spike Lee – sees Fring as the ideal nemesis-mentor for Walter, who is still in the awkward-adolescent phase of becoming a drug kingpin. "Gus hides in plain sight," says Esposito. "He's an upstanding member of society. He really wants to nurture Walter – he's the matriarch of the family." But "a showdown between Walter and Gus is inevitable," adds Esposito, with a note of Gus-like disappointment in his voice. "There has to be a final reckoning."
By Julia Holmes