Giancarlo Esposito, best known for his role as the villainous Gus Fring in AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” put aside his written speech on Tuesday to discuss his life lessons and the “key to life” with Weber State University students.
Esposito spoke to more than 600 students in the Shepherd Union Ballrooms about appreciating life and pursuing their dreams.
“Your biggest obligation is to be happy and to choose something that you connect to. Choose something you love to do,” Esposito said. “If you don’t do that, then what are you doing here? What is your mission? What is your purpose? That’s the first key.”
Talking about the beginning of his college career, when he worked at a car wash and as a waiter, Esposito shared with students his struggles of supporting his mother and brother while dreaming of becoming an actor someday.
“You probably share a bit of what I had inside me, and that was desire,” he said. “If your desire is strong and your aim is true, and you are willing to sacrifice some things in your life now, then you are able to realize your goal.”
Esposito spoke to students about pursuing his acting career by acting in small roles before landing his breakout role in director Spike Lee’s Oscar-nominated film “Do the Right Thing.” He also shared his experiences working on “Breaking Bad” and the role he tried to capture as the villain for the second, third and fourth seasons of the series.
“I believe that I created a character that has some villainy in him, but basically is good,” Esposito said. “Nobody is intrinsically bad. I believe people are good, but they struggle with their own personal demons.”
Austin Hatch, a WSU senior, said he was surprised while listening to Esposito’s speech.
“You expected him to be a lot like his character in the show, but he’s not at all,” Hatch said. “Giancarlo’s a very cool and down-to-earth guy.”
At the end of the speech, the audience and Esposito shared a few laughs when students were able to ask questions. The first question was a request to him to take a photo with a student, followed by a request for him to sign a T-shirt. Many students thanked Esposito for his contribution to film and television entertainment.
As Esposito was getting ready to leave, he reminded students to remember who they are and to not forget his words.
Spencer Hart, a WSU junior and fan of “Breaking Bad,” said he was impressed with Esposito’s encouragement.
“I thought it was cool that he went out and fulfilled his dream and then he inspired us to do the same thing,” Hart said. “He told us to do something that we love and keep trying until we get it. Don’t give up.”
The WSU Student Association arranged for Esposito to come speak to WSU students. Courtney Woodfield, programming vice president of WSUSA, said she brought Esposito to get students excited and involved with campus activities.
“‘Breaking Bad’ was such a huge show and we knew a lot students were fans, so we decided to give them what they wanted,” Woodfield said.
Woodfield said WSUSA wants students to take advantage of its Convocations series.
“We’re open for suggestions and criticism, and we take the criticism to heart,” she said. “We’re going to listen to the students that speak up, because we want to make them happy. So if people want to email me and ask, ‘What’s the possibility of getting Michael Jordan?’ I would be more than happy to look into it for them.”