Bronx native Giancarlo Esposito at the New York Botanical Garden.
Giancarlo Esposito, now starring in Atlantic Theater Company’s world premiere production of John Patrick Shanley’s play STOREFRONT CHURCH is featured with a New York Times “Arts & Leisure” feature this week.
New York Times – June 3, 2012
Chameleon Sheds His Camouflage
By Rob Weinert-Kendt
Most actors create one or two memorable characters in a career, if they’re lucky. The portraits etched by the mercurial Giancarlo Esposito, on the other hand, are so distinct that you can imagine them playing scenes off each other.
It’s tantalizing, for instance, to imagine Buggin Out, the Brooklyn gadfly who led a pizzeria boycott in Spike Lee’s film “Do the Right Thing” (1989), stopping for fried chicken at Los Pollos Hermanos and having some choice words with the chain’s owner, Gustavo Fring, the buttoned-up criminal mastermind who sent an electrifying chill through recent seasons of “Breaking Bad” on AMC.
You could go on for a while like this, given a career that spans 47 years (he began recording radio commercials at 7), every conceivable medium, and roles on both sides of the law and myriad points on the racial spectrum.
“I have been called a chameleon, and I rather like that, because it means that the things I choose are never the same,” Mr. Esposito said recently over lunch in a tiny Bronx diner. “I don’t want to play myself over and over again.”
But wouldn’t it be nice to play himself at least once? He may be closer than usual with Donaldo Calderon, the fictional Bronx borough president in “Storefront Church,” a new play written and directed by John Patrick Shanley at the Atlantic Theater. (Now in previews, the play, the third in a trilogy that includes “Doubt” and “Defiance,” opens on June 11.) Like Calderon, Mr. Esposito, 54, grew up, at least partly, in the Bronx; and like the half-Italian, half-Puerto Rican Calderon he’s multiethnic, the child of an African-American opera singer and an Italian carpenter she met and married while on a European tour.
The play’s central conflict, a battle between a bank and the owners of a defaulting property that includes the Pentecostal church of the title, also rings a few bells.
“The play is resounding for me in that in the last economic downturn I had a house that went into foreclosure,” said Mr. Esposito, who lives in Ridgefield, Conn. “And my mother, after being an opera singer, became a minister and had a little storefront church in our home in Elmsford, N.Y. She called it a Place of Light Continuing. I think Shanley must have channeled my life, or my life must be very much like his.”
Read the rest of the feature: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/theater/giancarlo-esposito-an-actor-known-for-divergent-roles.html?_r=2&ref=theater