BEVERLY HILLS — Giancarlo Esposito is intimidating without meaning to be.
Best known for his Emmy-nominated role as drug kingpin Gus Fring on "Breaking Bad" and now as a ruthless militia leader on NBC's "Revolution" (10 p.m. Monday, WBIR, Channel 10), he has baggage.
"I'm not one of those actors that people like to approach," Esposito says, sitting in a pool side chair during a cool summer day. "I'm really a nice guy."
Convincing fans isn't easy. While the swagger-free Esposito says the public is savvy enough to know he isn't the roles he plays, he's also seen as imposing.
On "Revolution," an early new-season hit (in Knoxville, it rides the coattails of ABC's "Castle"), he's lives in a world where a global power outage has put civilization back to a pre-industrial age. Now, the rules have changed.
Esposito plays Tom Neville, who was an insurance adjuster and now leadsa militia in an effort to reinvent his image. "There are people who want to get the power back for their own reasons and people who may not want to get it back," he says.
Tom will do anything not to go back to his old and less adventurous life.
The son of carpenter and a club singer and raised in Manhattan, Esposito's first break came at age 8 in a short-lived play with Shirley Jones.
After 45 years in which he has played psychopaths, the thin and unassuming Esposito, 54 and married with no children, has found his niche.
"What I love about creating a bad guy is to make him somehow good, doing something bad for a good reason," he says. "This guy is somewhat different in that he is the one step that is keeping everyone safe.
"Without him there would be total anarchy. Is he as bad as you think he is? Wait and see."
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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