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Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito (born April 26, 1958) is an Americanmarker film and television actor and director.

Early life and personal details

Esposito was born in Copenhagenmarker, Denmarkmarker to an Italianmarker father and African-American mother. His mother was an opera and nightclub singer from Alabamamarker, who once appeared on the same bill as Josephine Baker. His father was from Naplesmarker, and worked as a stagehand and carpenter. Esposito lived in Europe, New Yorkmarker, and Clevelandmarker until the family settled in Manhattanmarker when he was six.

Esposito remembers that he and his brother, young boys living in Germanymarker, ran and hid from an Ivorianmarker deliveryman; he was frightening because he was a dark-skinned Black man. Their mother realized they were unaware their parents had different color, and she determined to prepare them for the racism they would encounter when they moved to the United Statesmarker. The family later moved to Elmsford, New Yorkmarker, just north of New York City, where Esposito lived on the border between the town's black and Italian neighborhoods. He currently owns houses in Woodstock, New York and Ridgefield, Connecticut. He is the father of four daughters, and separated from his wife Joy McManigal.


He made his Broadwaymarker debut (1966) at age eight playing a slave child opposite Shirley Jones in the short-lived Maggie Flynn. He did not take offense at the play's racial politics then; he was thrilled. "I had a solo and everything."

In the 1980s, Esposito appeared in small roles in films such as Maximum Overdrive, King of New York, and Trading Places and TV shows such as Miami Vice and Spenser: For Hire. He played J.C. Pierce, a cadet in the 1981 movie Taps. In 1988, he landed his breakout role as a college student labeled a "wannabe" by his peers in director Spike Lee's film School Daze. Over the next four years, Esposito and Lee collaborated on three other movies: Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, and Malcolm X. He also appeared in Reckless with Mia Farrow.

Esposito is known for his portrayal of FBI agentmarker Mike Giardello on the TV crime drama Homicide: Life on the Street. That role reflected both his black and Italian heritage. He played it 1998–1999 until the series' cancellation. The character's father Al is portrayed as subject to colorism, something Esposito's character practiced in School Daze. Another biracial role was Sergeant Paul Gigante in the television comedy series, Bakersfield P.D. (Fox Broadcasting Company, 1993–1994).

Other TV credits include NYPD Blue, Law & Order, The Practice, and Fallen Angels: Fearless.

Esposito has portrayed drug dealers (Fresh), cops (The Usual Suspects), political radicals (Bob Roberts) and even a demonic version of the Greek God of Sleep from another dimension (Monkeybone.) He played Cassius Clay, Sr., in Ali and Nuyorican poet Miguel Piñero's friend and collaborator Miguel Algarín in Piñero, both released in 2001.

Mr. Esposito played Robert Fuentes, a Miamimarker businessman with shady connections, on the UPN television series South Beach. He has appeared in New Amsterdam and CSI: Miami. He recorded a public service announcement for Deejay Ra's Hip hop literacy campaign to encourage reading about Muhammad Ali. He is currently involved with AMC's Breaking Bad series, playing businessman/methamphetamine kingpin Gustavo Fring.

Gospel Hill (2008) was his directorial debut; he also produced the film, and starred in it.

His New York theatre credits include The Me Nobody Knows, Lost in the Stars, Seesaw, and Merrily We Roll Along. In 2008 he appeared on Broadwaymarker as Gooper in an African American production of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Debbie Allen and starring James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, and Terrence Howard.


He won Obie and Theatre World Awards for Zooman and the Sign, 1981; Obie award for Distant Fires, 1993.


  1. "Giancarlo Esposito." Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 9. Gale Research, 1995. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. Document Number: K1606000445. Updated: 05/18/2006. Fee via Fairfax County Public Library. Accessed 2009-04-10

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