Giancarlo Esposito Loves To Drive Through The ‘Parish’

Giancarlo Esposito (left) as Gray Bourgeois and Skeet Ulrich (back to camera) as Colin Broussard in PARISH. ©AMC Networks Entertainment LLC. CR: Alyssa Moran/AMC


Front Row Features

HOLLYWOOD-AMC’s new six-episode, high-octane crime thriller “Parish” is based on the British series “The Driver.” It stars Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” “The Mandalorian,”) as Gracian ‘Gray’ Parish, a family man with a successful business in New Orleans. When his son is violently killed in a carjacking, and his business collapses, an encounter with friend from the old days, when he worked as a getaway driver, ignites old habits and Parish is thrown back into the dangerous and dark lifestyle that propels him into a collision course with a violent crime syndicate.

Giancarlo Esposito joined the TV Critics Association at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena to talk about his new drama, which premieres on Sunday, March 31, 2024, at 10pm  ET/PT. Following that it will be airing at 9pm on Sundays.

Q: This is based on a series from England called “The Driver.” In your version why was New Orleans chosen as the city to set it in?

Giancarlo Esposito: New Orleans seemed like such a great place. It’s a city with demons and a city with great light.  It’s a city that has a majority of churches, more than any other city in America.  It’s a city where there are bars on every corner, and you can party till five in the morning.  It seems like a place where you have to make a choice.

Our show was a lot about the choices that Gracian Parish makes, whether they be good choices or bad choices, and how they affect his family.  Our show is so much about the family and community not only of the city.  So this was a city that we came on and knew it was the right one when we chose it.  There are other cities like this, and who knows where we could go in the future but, right now, New Orleans seems to be the place where you struggle with the ghosts of your past and the ghost of your future.

Q: Are you an excellent driver in real life?

Giancarlo Esposito:  I am.  I love driving, and it’s something that captured me from the first time I watched the original series, that the driving was a big part of [it.] I’m also a runner, and so when I drive fast or I run fast I have to ask myself what am I running away from, what am I driving away from? And so I’m a Popular Mechanics guy that loves speed and loves the car because it feels like it is a place of meditation in a way. It’s lulling and calming to me to take long drives in the country.

There were things that I had to learn about being safe on the set in regard to driving. But it’s a great, very electric part of our show. But [turning] it back to character, it really reflects the one strength that some of us have as human beings. What is your super power? What is your strength? That’s the one thing, the one place you can feel free. Freedom of the road is special to me.

Q: Can you talk about the difference between being an ensemble member and a lead who is also an executive producer? What kind of different responsibility do you feel towards the show?

Giancarlo Esposito: This show is really special to my heart because I’ve lived with it for so very long and through many different incarnations and developments.  It’s been about eight years.

What is asked of someone who is in an executive producer position and number one on the call sheet is just to be a leader. But it’s to be more organic, truthful, and honest about what the story really is. So, it becomes less about the number and less about the ego and more about what the committed story is.

Q: You’ve had a lot of great roles as a supporting actor in film and TV. When you were doing that work did you learned anything that either taught you what you wanted to do, or what you wanted to not do when you were the star, when you were the executive producer, when you were the guy who set the tone?

Giancarlo Esposito: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve worked with many wonderful actors. And some of those wonderful actors have attitudes, and others have no attitude whatsoever. Some lift other people up, and some do not. And I learned that in yearning to always be in a position where I could affect people in a positive way, that this was an opportunity. Sometimes I succeeded, and sometimes I didn’t. And when I didn’t, I had to stand up and say, I was wrong, I’m sorry. I didn’t deal with that quite the way I would have liked to. And that set me on a course to be the leader that I wanted to be for me.

Q: Your character really loves that car.  Have you ever owned a car that you loved?

Giancarlo Esposito: I had a 1964 Volvo B-122S, which I had to sell because I was bankrupt in Connecticut, and my girls were really young, and they came out and sat in that car. I redid it with my own hands. It was absolutely gorgeous. I had to give it up so my family could survive.  And I still think of that car and wonder if I could ever find it again and buy it back. I did the right thing. I let it go. I paid the mortgage. I eventually lost the house. That’s the way it went. It taught me to not be attached to anything.