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Television

Gus Fring, ‘Breaking Bad’s’ fast-food chicken king /drug kingpin, is back in ‘Better Call Saul’

2017 Winter TCA Tour - Day 10
Actor Giancarlo Esposito passes out boxes of “Los Pollos Hermanos” chicken during the ‘Better Call Saul’ panel at the Television Critics Assn. press tour.
(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

You can’t keep a good villain down, particularly when he was both the head of a fast-food chicken chain and a drug kingpin.

Gus Fring, the soft-spoken but vicious criminal who met an explosive end in “Breaking Bad,” is returning to life in AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” the prequel to the landmark drama that revolved around the rise and fall of drug king Walter White.

The resurrection of Fring, played by Giancarlo Esposito, was unveiled Sunday during a panel promoting the upcoming third season of “Better Call Saul” at the Television Critics Assn. press tour when a faux commercial showing Fring at his Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant was shown. Esposito  then entered the room of TV writers and helped hand out boxes of “Los Pollos Hermanos” chicken.

Esposito said he was thrilled to be reviving the character in “Better Call Saul,” which traces the evolution of JImmy McGill, a small-time Albuquerque attorney who transforms into Saul Goodman, the shifty lawyer for White.

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The actor said he was particularly interested in exploring the back story of Fring, or, as he put it, “a show about the rise of Gus.”

Jonathan Banks, who plays “fixer” Mike Ehrmantraut in the show, joked during the panel about whether Esposito had played hard ball with the show’s executive producers Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. “Did you hold their feet to the fire?” asked Banks. “How much are they paying you?”

“Not as much as you,” Esposito replied.

Fring, who was killed off memorably in an explosion in the finale of the fourth season of “Breaking Bad” (half his face was blown off) is one of the show’s most memorable characters. Several action figures of Fring — both with his full face and without — have been sold in the last few years.

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greg.braxton@latimes.com

Twitter:@GeBraxton


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