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Bryan Cranston

44 Podcast Episodes

Latest 18 Jul 2021 | Updated Daily

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Bryan Cranston & Robin Dearden

Double Date with Marlo Thomas & Phil Donahue

Bryan and Robin met as actors when he had to kidnap her on a TV show. Friends first, their attraction blossomed later — like a lightbulb turned on that reveals everything. He proposed in a hilarious way – in a bathtub. They are serious about their relationship, they’re funny and sweet and we learned a lot from them.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com


12 Jul 2021

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Bryan Cranston - 'Your Honor'

Awards Chatter

The revered stage and screen actor reflects on his decades of commercials and guest spots before becoming famous at 43, the happy accidents that led Vince Gilligan to cast him on 'Breaking Bad' and what it was like, seven years after that show ended, to return to TV in the limited series format.Credits: Hosted by Scott Feinberg and produced by Matthew Whitehurst. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 15mins

30 Apr 2021

Similar People

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03/30/21 DPS Hour 3 Bryan Cranston

The Dan Patrick Show

Bryan Cranston talks to Dan about his ranking in the the NCAA bracket challenge. Bryan admits that he does not do a lot of his own running in his movies. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com


30 Mar 2021

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Bryan Cranston on the 'Breaking Bad' Series Finale

That Scene with Dan Patrick

Bryan Cranston breaks down the iconic final scene in the series finale of 'Breaking Bad.'See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


9 Mar 2021

Most Popular

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112. Bryan Cranston and Dos Hombres Mezcal

What We're Drinking with Dan Dunn

On this special episode, Bryan Cranston is THE ONE WHO KNOCKS back mezcal with Dan. Dos Hombres Mezcal, that is, the brand Bryan started with his friend and former “Breaking Bad” co-star Aaron Paul. Among the topics discussed are the many ways to enjoy mezcal, the current state of the American bar scene, and the go-to cocktails of some of Bryan’s most iconic characters. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


16 Feb 2021

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Bryan Cranston

Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend

Actor Bryan Cranston feels very lucky about being happily paid to be Conan O’Brien’s friend. Bryan sits down with Conan to talk about brushes with Charles Manson, establishing contact with Vince Gilligan on The X-Files, and portraying characters with complex moralities from Breaking Bad to his new show Your Honor. Later, Conan responds to a listener voicemail regarding his strangest purchases. Got a question for Conan? Call our voicemail: (323) 451-2821. For Conan videos, tour dates and more visit TeamCoco.com.


1 Feb 2021

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Bryan Cranston Won’t Play Donald Trump


Bryan Cranston has built his reputation playing powerful men, from President Lyndon B. Johnson to  Walter White in "Breaking Bad" to  Michael Desiato in "Your Honor." On this episode of "Sway," the Tony and Emmy-winning actor breaks down his method, the motivations behind the larger-than-life men he plays and why he draws the line at playing the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz" or the President currently in the White House.You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at nytimes.com/sway, and you can find Kara on Twitter @karaswisher.


19 Jan 2021

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Ep. 22 - Bryan Cranston (feat. Dames Marvin)

Munsons at the Movies

Welcome to the Munsons at the Movies Podcast. Each episode we delve into the filmography and impact of a randomly selected actor. In this episode, we explore the career of the Emmy and Tony-winning actor, Bryan Cranston. Best known for his roles as Walter White in Breaking Bad, Hal in Malcolm in the Middle, and Jack O'Donnell in Argo, Cranston has been extremely busy on-screen, on-stage, and behind the camera. Joined by guest Munson, Dames Marvin of the CF3: Cult Fans, Films & Finds Podcast, we discuss Cranston's commanding stage presence, his unsung performances in movies like Wakefield and All The Way, and our thoughts on Halloween candy, the election, and Power Rangers conspiracy theories. Where does Cranston's career rank on the Munson Meter? Listen to find out. 

1hr 33mins

5 Nov 2020

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Bryan Cranston Live + Tim Minchin

Carolla Classics

1. Adam's east coast travel with Matt Fondiler (2013)2. Tim Minchin (2011)3. Bryan Cranston live (2010)4. Military Rotten Tomatoes (2016)Hosted by Chris Laxamana and Giovanni GiorgioRequest clips:Classics@adamcarolla.comTWITTER:https://twitter.com/chrislaxamanaINSTAGRAM:http://instagram.com/chrislaxamana1 https://twitter.com/giovannigiorgioWebsite: https://www.podcastone.com/carolla-classicsApple Podcasts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/carolla-classics/id1454001697?mt=2Support the show:Visit MedisonReedMr.com and use the code ADAM10Visit TommyJohn.com/ClassicsVisit Geico.comVisit LifeLock.com/AdamVisit Butcherbox.com/Adam

1hr 41mins

25 Oct 2020

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Bryan Cranston, Legendary Actor-Producer-Writer-Director-Episode #132

Storybeat with Steve Cuden

The extraordinary actor-producer-writer and director, Bryan Cranston, is an Academy Award nominee, and the winner of the Emmy®, Golden Globe, SAG, Tony® and Olivier Awards. Bryan has been seen recently in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, also on the big screen starring opposite Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman in The Upside, and most recently streaming on Disney+ in The One and Only Ivan. On television, Bryan is best known for his portrayal of Walter White on AMC’s Breaking Bad and as Hal in Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle. He’s currently in production on the Showtime limited series, Your Honor, in which he stars and also executive produces. Bryan made his Broadway debut as President Lyndon B. Johnson in All The Way and went on to produce the film adaption of the play through his production company, Moonshot Entertainment. He recently finished a Broadway run of Network based on the iconic film written by Paddy Chayefsky. Moonshot Entertainment has also developed three television series for Amazon including Sneaky Pete, The Dangerous Book for Boys, and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and also the animated series Supermansion for Sony Crackle. Aside from his acting career, Bryan is the New York Times bestselling author of his terrific autobiography, A Life In Parts, in which he revisits the many parts he’s played on and off camera. Ultimately his memoir is about the transformative power of hard work. I’ve read A Life In Parts and can tell you it’s as illuminating and inspirational as it is great fun. I highly recommend it to you. Most recently, Bryan proudly released an artisanal Mezcal, “Dos Hombres” with his longtime friend and occasional cooking partner, Aaron Paul. In 2016, StoryBeat host, Steve Cuden, had the great privilege of interviewing Bryan live on stage at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. TRANSCRIPTION AVAILABLE BELOW WEBSITES: Bryan Cranston on Wikipedia Bryan Cranston on the IMDB IF YOU LIKED THIS EPISODE, YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: Javier Grajeda, Actor-Episode #8 Melody Thomas Scott, Legendary Actress-Nikki Newman on The Young and the Restless-Episode #126 Hawk Koch, Legendary Movie Producer-Episode #101 Andy Tennant, Screenwriter-Director, Episode #92 Michael Colleary, Screenwriter-Producer-Episode #109 George Newbern, Actor-Episode #36 Todd Robinson, Writer-Director-Episode #89 Phil Proctor-Encore-Episodes #33 and #34Read the Podcast Transcript STORYBEAT WITH STEVE CUDEN STEVE CUDEN INTERVIEWS ACTOR-PRODUCER-WRITER-DIRECTOR BRYAN CRANSTON ANNOUNCER: This is StoryBeat with Steve Cuden, a podcast for the creative mind. StoryBeat explores how masters of creativity develop and produce brilliant workers that people everywhere love and admire. So join us as we discover how talented creators find success in the worlds of imagination and entertainment. Here now is your host, Steve Cuden. Steve Cuden: Thanks for joining us on StoryBeat. We’re coming to you from the Steel City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. StoryBeat episodes are widely available at StoryBeat.net, YouTube, Apple podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Stitcher and numerous other podcast apps and platforms. So please, why don’t you take a moment to subscribe to StoryBeat wherever you listen to podcasts. Well, we’ve got a really special show for you today. You’re likely already a fan of my guest, the extraordinary actor, producer, writer and director Bryan Cranston. Bryan’s an Academy Award nominee and the winner of the Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, Tony and Olivier Awards. Bryan has been seen recently in El Camino: a Breaking Bad movie. Also on the big screen starring opposite Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman in The Upside, and most recently streaming on Disney+ in the One and Only Ivan. On television, Bryan is of course best known for his portrayal of Walter White on AMC’s Breaking Bad and as Hal in Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle. He’s currently in production on the Showtime limited series, Your Honor, in which he stars and also executive producers. Bryan made his Broadway debut as President Lyndon B. Johnson in All the Way, and went on to produce the film adaptation of the play through his production company Moonshot Entertainment. He recently finished a Broadway run of Network based on the iconic film written by Paddy Chayefsky. Moonshot Entertainment has also developed three television series for Amazon, including Sneaky Pete, the Dangerous Book for Boys and Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams, and also the animated series Supermansion for Sony Crackle. Aside from his acting career, Bryan is the New York Times bestselling author of his terrific autobiography, A Life in Parts, in which he revisits the many parts he’s played on and off camera. Ultimately, his memoir is about the transformative power of hard work. I’ve read A Life in Parts and can tell you, it’s as illuminating and inspirational as it is great fun. I highly recommend it to you. Most recently, Bryan proudly released an artisanal mezcal Dos Hombres with his longtime friend and occasional cooking partner, Aaron Paul. In 2016, I had the great privilege of interviewing Bryan on stage at Point Park University. So I’m doubly honored to have a second crack at him today on StoryBeat. Bryan, welcome to the show. Bryan Cranston: Thank you. So glad to be here. Steve Cuden: Well, it’s such a privilege for me. Thank you so much. So all right. You’ve been a working actor for virtually your entire adult life. And in your book, A Life in Parts you relate that your father and mother met in an acting class. So you were already Hollywood-centric as a young boy, and your dad wanted to be a star. And you and your brother even produced your own amateur productions. Did you know back then, as a boy, that acting is what you wanted to do for your life’s work? Bryan Cranston: Oh, gosh, it was just fun. They were garage productions of different plays that my brother would write and he directed he was my first director. And I did some commercials when I was a kid, when my dad was producing some things. And then I would go with him to the studio. So I was in my realm since I was a child. And I always felt there was a special sensation. When driving on to a movie lot. Steve Cuden: Oh sure. Bryan Cranston: Paramount or MGM or Fox or it’s just something special. Steve Cuden: Do you still feel it when you go on a lot? Bryan Cranston: To this day. To this day, I still feel empowered, and a special treatment of being able to drive on to a studio lot and go “I’m supposed to be here now.” And produce stories for people all around the world to hopefully enjoy. Steve Cuden: There’s nothing more thrilling than driving into a studio a lot. I mean, I had the privilege of doing that a number of times and every single time it was a big thrill. Bryan Cranston: It’s steeped in folklore and rumor and glamour and just larger than life personas and characters. It was fantastic to be able to be a part of that. But to answer your question, I did not think at the time. It just wasn’t a real thing to me. But I did know baseball players. And I’d look at them and I said, “I want to be able to do that.” And so that was my goal as a child to become a baseball player. And I would have had it not been for one little thing. Steve Cuden: What’s that? Bryan Cranston: Talent. Didn’t have the talent. Steve Cuden: Yeah, but you managed to find talent in other ways, that’s for sure. What position would you have played? Bryan Cranston: I was always an infielder. I played shortstop and third base and I pitched. So I had a pretty good arm. And it was fun. I but I enjoyed the game more than I was talented at it. I made all-star teams and Little League and things like that. But then I got hurt in high school, and my parents had split up. And so it felt like I was walking in slow motion in high school looking around wondering, “What am I doing here? What is the point of all this?” It really threw me for a loop. Steve Cuden: You traveled a lot as a young man, you actually got on the road and went out and went to places and you also held lots of different jobs. In your book you write and I quote, “The best teacher is experience, find the educational in every experience.” Close quote. How valuable were your early life experiences to forming the actor that you’ve become? Bryan Cranston: You know, I always have felt this and I’ve taught my daughter this, that even when you’re experiencing something that feels bad or negative at the time, it might make a very good story. Steve Cuden: Sure. Bryan Cranston: And because only really good stories come out of challenging times. And I think now of being in the COVID lockdown, and the fires raging and all of us in our country, feeling this restriction to our lives and freedoms and for very good reasons. But still, it’s there and the anxiety. And I think what are the great stories that are going to come out of this? But yes, in the times when things are not going well. Life is a teacher. And it’s important to note those moments in your life when things are not going well as a way of cathartically getting through it. And possibly who knows if you’re a storyteller down the road, you might be able to write about it. Steve Cuden: For almost 40 years I’ve had the attitude that everything is a life lesson, no matter what you’re going through good, bad or indifferent. It’s a lesson that you should be taking, absorbing that as part of your life’s experience. Bryan Cranston: Yeah, celebrate the good times and note the bad ones try to get through it. And when you get through it, write it down. Steve Cuden: When you were a young person, you made a decision at some point, according to your book that was in 1978 on a motorcycle trip, and that you made a conscious decision to become an actor. What triggered that? Bryan Cranston: Well, I left my home state of California in September of 1976. I was 20 years old. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just finished two years of junior college thinking that I was going to become a police officer, and I would transfer to UCLA to complete it. Because I was poor. So that was the best way to go about it. But I had an experience in the junior college that really threw me for a loop. And that was an acting experience that I my job was to kiss this really pretty young girl… Steve Cuden: Rough job. Bryan Cranston: … in a scene and do it believably. And I thought it spun me around and I asked this girl out after the scene, I asked her out for a date. And she said, “No, I have a boyfriend.” And I was floored because I thought “My God, this girl was amazing. I thought she really liked me.” But she was just acting. So not only did an 18 year old at the time, get his head leveled and realize oh my god that we were kissing. That was my job in this class was to kissing this pretty girl. Was that. And then the second thing was, “Oh, she didn’t like me. She was acting.” So this twofold hammer hit my head and spun me out. So I did take that trip. I left for two years. I was on a motorcycle with my brother. He had a motorcycle I did too. And for two years, we left the state to try to figure out what we wanted to do in our lives. And along The way we get jobs here and there and in carnivals, or cafes and back then in the mid 70s, as you know Steve, don’t try to pass yourself off as a youngster. Steve Cuden: Oh, trust me we’re the same age, believe it or not. Bryan Cranston: So in those days you can get a job, you didn’t need all the paperwork and everything, you can get a job anywhere they’d pay you under the table. So we would get jobs and little cafes and bus tables for a little bit. They’d give us 10 bucks, and we fill our stomachs and fill our gas tanks and off we’d go. And we spent two years traveling the states, we went to nearly every… The only state we didn’t get to is North Dakota. Every other state we went to. Steve Cuden: Alaska. Did you get up to- Bryan Cranston: Well, I went to Alaska on a different trip. Steve Cuden: You got all the states in the contiguous United States. Bryan Cranston: Contiguous United States. Yeah. Except North Dakota. Anyway. But that was it. And I was in the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia, in ’78. And it was raining, pouring rain. And my brother and I put our motorcycles up on this cement slab that had four posts, and a roof, open air and a picnic table. And we thought, well, we’ll have to ride it out. Because it’s you can’t see anything. And there’s no GPS back then. So you didn’t know how far away you really were from a town. So, there we stayed. We pulled out our bedrolls and we hunkered down and lit up our little gas stove and made our Top Ramen and bouillon cubes or Sanka or whatever little packages of whatever, and saltine crackers. Steve Cuden: Top Ramen. Bryan Cranston: Yeah. And I was reading a book of plays, and I was reading Hedda Gabler, Ibsen’s play. And I remember reading it to pass the time and I started it and finished it. And when I finished it, I looked up and it was already night. And that struck me because I had never missed the transition from day to night. And I thought, “How could that be?” I realized the power of this story took me away. And I didn’t notice my surroundings during that time. And I felt the impact of that. And it’s at that point on the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia that I said, “I’m going to try to become an actor. And I have to really work hard to get there. But it’s something that I love to do. And I hope to become good at,” as opposed to something I was good at but didn’t love. So that was my credo. Steve Cuden: And that was a pivotal moment for you. It was an epiphany. Bryan Cranston: It was exactly that.  It was this, try it. You got to try it. And I tell kids that all the time now that when they come up to me and say “What should I do? What should I do?” And I said, “Do you have a burning desire to be an actor?” “No, I like it. But I think…” I said “Then go do the other thing. Do the other thing.” That you also like, but you should only become an actor, or a writer or director, if you can’t do anything else, if you wake up thinking about acting and wanting a chance, then that’s a good signal. Steve Cuden: I’m so glad to hear you say that. Because I tell my students all the time, if you don’t have a burning desire to do this thing, you’re in the wrong business, you’ve got to want it badly. Bryan Cranston: Yeah. Because I can guarantee you that the other guy or the other woman, they do have the burning desire. And that is what can sustain. It’s I tell young kids now I said, “It’s no different than a committed relationship with a lover. If you’re committing to a wife or a husband or whatever, you are making a commitment for life.” This is not something that you go, “I’ll give it two years. And if I don’t become a star in two years, then I’m out.” I can tell those people like “I can save you two years of frustration. If you just do something else now.” Steve Cuden: Well, you know better than most. All right, I want to ask you about teachers for a moment. You’ve had many acting teachers over time, and you list them in your book. And I just wonder do you believe in schooling and training or… Talent won’t carry you have to have some kind of training, whether it’s on the job or in a formal setting. Do you believe in formal training? Bryan Cranston: Absolutely. I when I go and speak at colleges like your own school when I was in Pittsburgh, I want to tell them “You’re doing the right thing. Be here, absorb take it in just be a dry sponge to everything that’s being said. No, you don’t have to absolutely use every single thing that a teacher tells you to try to use. Let it come in and come out. But first be the dry sponge first take it in.” And I tell them my story and I say “Look, you already have more formal training and acting that I’ve ever had, because of where you are right now, your second year, third year. I didn’t have that. I was on a different track, I thought I was going to do something else in my life.” And when I went back to California, I got into an acting class and then another acting class then a comedy improv class. And it was kind of a potpourri approach to it. Because I was on my own since I was 17. And I didn’t know any better. And so I just went right at it in those acting classes. But I think there’s a little part of me that says, I wish I had gone to a four year college and really just had that luxury of just absorbing and not worrying about performance. Steve Cuden: I would submit that you’ve done okay without it. Bryan Cranston: Yeah, yeah. Okay. I’ve done okay without it. At some point, I really, I think I will go back to school just to be a student, again. Steve Cuden: I think that that’s a wonderful thing. I didn’t go back to graduate school till I was in my 50s. So, I understand about going back to school later in life. And that’s absolutely something that if you have to… Again, it’s the same thing, if you have a burning passion and desire to do that, do that. Go learn what you want to learn or get an advanced degree in what you already know, or whatever that would be. Alright, so you were alluding a little earlier to the journey of being an actor is quite a challenge sometimes, and you are a perfect example of this. You made your living, working as a journeyman actor for a very long time. And so you didn’t really become a star till you’re in your 50s. And that means you stuck to it a long time. So you’ve surely had times in your career when you were between jobs and facing uncertainties about your future? What did you do during those periods to stay positive and forward thinking and to keep your head in the game? How did you manage those uncertainties? Bryan Cranston: It’s going to be with every actor on their journey. I got Malcolm in the Middle when I was 40, 41, 40. And Breaking Bad started when I was 50. So that kind of success, that level hit me late. But I totally honest with you, my greatest professional accomplishment was when I was 25 years old. And from that point on, I only have made a living as an actor. And that’s why I say that’s my proudest professional moment. Because something happened. It was actually strange. I was living in Los Angeles and auditioning and I got this audition for a soap opera in New York City. And I got it. Steve Cuden: Loving. Bryan Cranston: Brand new soap opera called Loving on ABC. And I’m 25 years old, and I moved to New York, I have this job. And it wasn’t the content of doing a soap opera because that’s very challenging. They had to pump out those stories over and over and over again. And the methodology behind it is two steps forward, one step back, you’re constantly taking a step forward and a step back to keep the audience aware of where the story is. And so it wasn’t that it was just, it felt like I crossed a threshold. That I worked hard enough for three years to get this job. And from that point on, I never looked back. I kept my nut low. And I would always keep my head down. But I married an actress, and we had a great relationship and in the beginning, and she was working more than I was at the beginning. And we saved our money. And we bought a little house and we had a baby. And that’s 32 years ago. And we’re still married. But not to sugarcoat it, because there were times before Malcolm in the Middle that it would be difficult. And I felt like I can’t, to use a sports metaphor, I can’t seem to get off the bench. I’m on the team. But I say that they’re not calling my name to get into the game. And it was frustrating to watch it unfold in front of me, and you’re not able to get in there and do it. And to those actors who are experiencing that. All I could say is that this is a journey, and that it will give you a tremendous appreciation later on when your luck comes in. You will have faith. And I never take anything for granted and I don’t feel entitled to anything. You have to work for everything and I’m exceptionally grateful for the good fortune that I’ve had. Steve Cuden: Well, I assume that coming to you so late in your life being in your 40s and 50s that it really had a big impact on you that you appreciated it in ways that someone had in their 20s or earlier would not appreciate. Bryan Cranston: I think that’s my story. Others will bust out of the gate fast and do some work early and then go through a lull, it’s bound to happen. But if you are committed, like we talked about earlier, Steve, if you have that flame inside of you, if you’ve committed to this as your life, then it’s your life. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve had, “Oh, I had a good year last year, and this year is not as good. Well, okay. And next year will be better.” It’s a rollercoaster ride. But it’s better to be on the ride than to be an observer. Steve Cuden: Absolutely, absolutely. Okay. So what then? Because I know you say it well in the book, but what’s your philosophy toward auditioning and casting? Do you use any special techniques or thoughts that may help up and coming actors to work their way through that process? Bryan Cranston: Well, first of all, there is no replacement for hard work. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a genius. Everyone works hard. Everyone really studies a lot, comes to their work prepared with options and ideas. So that’s the first thing, and there is no magic dust. There is no… Some actors will say, “Well is there a shortcut. No, there’s no shortcut. Just all the energy, you’re trying to find a shortcut, just do the work. Just put your nose down, do the work. And if you’re talented, and you need to be talented, eventually, at some point, it will rise to the top and you will be noticed. But the most important thing that I’ve discovered was about 30 years ago now. I’ve been doing this for 41 years. And it was about almost 30 years ago. And what I realized is that I was looking at auditions as a job interview, I was going there to try to get a job. And all of a sudden, I had this epiphany that I’m doing this all wrong. And here’s why. When you want or need something from someone else who has the power? That other person has the power. But if you go into a situation where you don’t want or need anything from someone else, you are there to give them something, you have the power. That blew my head off. It’s a perception thing. And you have to work at it. But if you truly take it on and own it, you will then go into auditioning, realizing I’m here to help solve their problem. They have a problem in trying to find this character to cast right now. And I have an idea of what they can do, whether they choose it or not. It’s up to them. But I’m here to help you. I’m not here to get your approval. I’m not here to get a job, I’m here to help you. Once that happened, I took command of that room, of that audition room. I would ask the casting director to position him or herself in a way that I wanted, or I asked them to stand up, or I’d move a piece of furniture because it was my room. My time, I own that time. And not in an arrogant way, not in a chest pounding way. Just in a polite, “Here’s what I’d like to do. I have a couple ideas. I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do this. Would you stand up, please, thank you very much. Come over here.” And then I’d take a moment and then launch into it. Again. Nothing replaces time that you put in on that audition. Steve Cuden: Sure. Bryan Cranston: But by going in there wanting to give them something as opposed to getting something was all the difference in the world. And I put it in this sentence. You don’t go in there to get a job, you go in there to do a job. That’s the big difference. You’re going in there to do a job. And once you do that job, which is to serve the text, and develop a character that they might find interesting. And that’s your job. And once you finish, say goodbye and see you later and out you go and then you’re done. Don’t think about it. Don’t call your agent. Don’t worry. Don’t wonder, you did it. Walk away. Steve Cuden: You had an opportunity to act at that moment. Bryan Cranston: That’s right. Steve Cuden: Even if you weren’t being paid for it. Bryan Cranston: That’s right. Well, there’s a huge difference between someone who enjoys acting, and someone who feels that they need to be a professional at it. And we’re constantly… When you’re on a working actor, you’re constantly working for nothing. You’re auditioning all the time. So you better get used to that and you better not carry any resentment towards that. Because it won’t last. Steve Cuden: Same thing for writers. You’re constantly writing spec scripts. And nobody’s paying you anything and you’re always on the hope that someone will. Bryan Cranston: Yeah, exactly. Steve Cuden: Same kind of thing. Alright, so you have worked for many different exceptional directors over the years like Vince Gilligan, Steven Spielberg, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson, Steven Soderbergh, Tom Hanks, Ben Affleck, Jay Roach, and many others. That’s just a few of who you’ve worked for. What would you say are the important lessons you’ve learned from the great directors over time? Bryan Cranston: What I’ve learned from them is not one size fits all. You as a director, you need to be really flexible, malleable, even, to say what is this person going to respond to? How does this actor different from this actor. One feels that they need nourishment, and nurturing to be able to do their best. Another feels like he needs a coach, like “Come on, get in there, give them hell.” So you have to suss out the differences between all the actors and not be so rigid in how you present yourself. So I find that the best directors have a real good tendency to listen a lot. And get an idea of how that particular actor likes to operate. And then they adjust to fill the need of that person. Some actors need a therapist, some need a coach, some need the fawning fan, some need… And it’s like you kind of move and it’s not that you placate someone or patronize them, but you do want to figure out what motivates them. I also think that there’s two other things that I learned from all those great directors is be open, have a game plan, but be open to change it. When you see something taking off in a different direction, that was your plan, go with it. Have the courage to go with that different direction, on your instinct. And the other thing was a lot of those men and women they weren’t afraid to say “I’m not quite sure. I don’t quite know what to do at this moment. Give me a moment. Let me think about it.” We’re feeling that taking a moment or saying I’m not quite sure is a sign of weakness, but actually, it’s a sign of great maturity, being able to say I need to take a second to figure something out. Steve Cuden: Well it’s absolutely a sign of maturity is when you can rely on someone else to help you rather than you thinking you have to solve everything yourself. Bryan Cranston: Right. Steve Cuden: So I want to talk briefly about Breaking Bad. Obviously, that’s the big kahuna for you. That’s what really put you over the top. I met Vince Gilligan briefly in 2009, in a class at UCLA, and he told us what the pitch of that show was, when he went into sell it. Which was that it’s Mr. Chips become Scarface, and immediately you go, “Who would have ever thought of that.” No one ever thinks of that, because it’s the first time in TV history, I believe, in which a lead character turns from a sympathetic character into someone evil. So you also said in your book, quote, “Once the character appears to me, everything else can blossom,” close quote. What for you was the key into Walter White? How did you get there? That’s really remarkable. Bryan Cranston: Well, every actor starts off with the faith and hope that a character will seep into their soul. And therefore being able to really house that character inside them, to perform. The more that we understand the character, the more handles we have on that character, the more secure we feel in performing. Steve Cuden: And how did you get there with him? Because that’s off the charts. Bryan Cranston: Yeah. Well, for example, on Malcolm in the Middle, it became pretty apparent to me quickly, that Hal my character, his main, emotional core, was fear. He was afraid of everything. His was afraid of being a bad husband, losing his job, then, and then it went on to oh, he’s afraid of spiders, afraid of people walking in on him, afraid of heights afraid of… And that lent itself to a lot of humor. But it came from a real place. He was fearful. And so that was great. And that’s how I built him. When it came to Walter White, it was much more difficult. I’m trying to find his emotional core. And I would ask Vince, all these questions like well, “Why did you make him a teacher? Why A teacher? And he said, “Well, I have a family full of teachers and I just thought that’d be a good place for him to start.” And it’s like, basically, “Oh, figure that out for yourself.” Okay. Well, I always write backstories to my characters anyways, just kind of stream of consciousness to help invite idiosyncratic ways about a character, and allow them in. So I was doing that and I started trying to figure out where is he? And I couldn’t figure out and I couldn’t figure out and the reason I couldn’t figure it out, is because I realized that Walter White’s emotional core was calloused over. Over years and years and years of self-oppression. He didn’t allow himself to feel. He pressed it down and pressed it down and pressed it down until it was no longer a functioning part of his life. And that’s why… And then all of a sudden, I went, “Oh, I got it.” So that’s why I said, “I think you should be overweight, a little pudgy. I think he should have clothes that blends into the wall. He’s invisible to himself and to others, his mop of hair just always looks like it needs a haircut.” I had the mustache that I called my impotent mustache that looked like a caterpillar. I wanted people to think that’s kind of neither here nor there. That’s what I wanted. I wanted him to get lost. He doesn’t know who he is. He didn’t have a handle on his core. And then all of a sudden, it breaks open because of the conditions of what happens in the story of Breaking Bad, that Walter White has terminal cancer. He decides to cook crystal meth to get his family set before he dies, and all the things that occurred and everything explodes. And so now his emotional core like a volcano just spews everywhere. Steve Cuden: It’s brilliant. Bryan Cranston: Yeah, he was a mess. Steve Cuden: Well, he was a mess. I have to ask you, because you open the book by talking about the scene with Jane’s death, which is one of the most powerful scenes in the history of TV, there’s just no question about it. It’s one that you just watch, and you just can’t believe you just saw what you just saw. You clearly went deep into your soul on that that’s where you watch her die. Can you for listeners that are trying to figure out and understand what it takes to get there? Would you mind recounting what you went through to reach such an indelible moment? Bryan Cranston: Sure. I mean, I think there are four things that you need to possess as an actor to be successful. One of them is talent. Let’s just say it, you have to have talent. Steve Cuden: Have to, have to. Bryan Cranston: And if I asked your students, point blank, do you have talent? I want them to say yes. Steve Cuden: Oh to be sure. Bryan Cranston: So let’s say that’s a given. And they have that they feel it, it’s there. The other thing is insatiable curiosity, a desire to do research into source material, reading, reading, if it’s a non-fictional character, you’re reading biographies and all these things. The third thing would be a willingness to go into your own life, your ability to open up the cavity of your life. If you’re not willing to show all that you are, all the vulnerabilities, the things, you’re afraid of the things you’re proud of the things that scare you, if you’re not willing to go there, you’re not going to be a very effective actor. You have to be willing to go to those scary places that you’ve really experienced. And the last thing is an imagination. So if let’s say you’re playing a murderer, well, you can read all about it. But if you don’t have a personal experience of being a murderer, hopefully you don’t, then- Steve Cuden: I don’t so far. Bryan Cranston: You don’t so far. But then you need to use your imagination to bridge the gap. So in those things, you pull all that together, and you start your work. Well, when I do a scene that’s emotional I always do a stream of consciousness writing about the potential of what could happen in that case, Walter White is deciding in an instant whether he should save the life of Jane. Jessie’s girlfriend, yes or no. He’s being blackmailed by her. Oh, that goes into the no’s category. And I made a really wrote yes or no, save her. Don’t save her. So I’m writing, “Oh, don’t save her. She’s blackmailing me.” What else is no? Oh, she hooked Jessie on heroin. That stuff. Yeah. What else? You know? And so what are the positives? Why should I save her? While she’s still a human being, a human being. And then one other thing I wrote was, “She’s young enough to be my daughter in real life. My own real daughter, so I wrote that down. She could be Taylor, my daughter, Taylor.” And I wrote down other yes’s and other nose and I and then you let it go. You’ve planted the seed already that there it is. You’ve done that homework. You’ve written what are the possible emotional ranges I could go to feel in the yes or no, what can I feel? And I’m writing down a range of emotions. And then throw that paper away. And let it go. Don’t be thinking about it. You cannot be in the scene thinking what else did I write? It’ll be there if it’s supposed to be there, trust that. And so we’re doing this scene and Krysten Ritter, beautiful actor is there giving it all, her all off camera, and the cameras are on me. And I was not thinking about this. But I’m hesitating, should I save? Or should I not saver, and all of a sudden, Krysten’s facial features just wiped away. And for a second and a half, two seconds, I saw my real daughter- Steve Cuden: Oh, wow. Bryan Cranston: … choking on our own vomit and dying in front of my eyes. And that choked me and caught me off guard. And that’s what they used in the take, they caught me off guard and I couldn’t believe it. And then as soon as it came, then it left. And I was looking at Krysten and again, it was like “Oh, God.” And what’s great about that scene is that his indecision was his decision. He couldn’t decide. So that made it up for him. And that’s the harrowing part of it. Steve Cuden: Just like the infamous Hollywood phrase, no answer is an answer. Bryan Cranston: No answer is an answer. Steve Cuden: So we’re running a little short on time and I want to cover two quick things. I have never seen you live on stage. I’ve only seen you on film on TV. But you’ve done a fair amount of stage acting. Do you have a preference between stage and film? Is there a difference for you? Bryan Cranston: There’s a vast difference. Assuming the play is great, and in my position, I don’t want to do anything that I don’t feel is great. So when I read a play that really moves me, and it feels important, and it resonates, I want to do it. And so when I did All the Way playing Lyndon Johnson, beautiful play, about the six months after President Kennedy was killed, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So it had historical importance, but it was also very well written by Robert Schenkkan. And funny and dramatic and tragic, and it’s just a beautiful play. And I love it. But I’ll tell you, it’s a hell of a lot more exhausting than doing a film. Steve Cuden: Oh, I imagine. Bryan Cranston: And that’s the big difference is that every day you are doing the beginning, middle and end whereas in the film and television business, you’re in the bits and pieces business. You do a little bit here, a little bit there. Steve Cuden: What Jimmy Stewart called little pieces of time. Bryan Cranston: (Imitating Jimmy Stewart) Little pieces of time. Steve Cuden: Thank you, George Bailey. Certainly when you’re doing stage, you’re getting an immediate feedback from an audience that you don’t get doing film. Bryan Cranston: That’s right. Steve Cuden: That’s got to be gratifying, in its own way. Bryan Cranston: Oh, it’s so great. And the audience tells you how they’re feeling. They will tell you if they’re following along. When there’s an ebb and flow when an actor is on stage and you say some of these words, you feel an energy coming back to you, or you don’t. And if you don’t, you need to make some adjustments, because you got to lead that audience. You got to take them by the hand and say, “Come with me. I’m going to tell you a story tonight. And trust me, you will enjoy this story.” Steve Cuden: And you can’t get that in a film because you’re doing it this little out of sequence pieces. Totally different thing. Bryan Cranston: But I’ve never been more exhausted than a long run of a play. Steve Cuden: Well, and especially when you’re this when you’re the lead in and on top of it. Bryan Cranston: Yeah. But I tell you, the other side of that is, I can’t imagine going to the theater and being backstage. I don’t want to be offstage. I want to be on stage. I want to be working my ass off, I want to be sweating, I want to be crying, I want to be screaming, I want to be loving, I want to be everything. Leave it all out there and be thoroughly exhausted afterwards. Steve Cuden: So you are incredibly versatile. You have this wide range, you did lots of comedy, you’ve done lots of serious, heavy stuff. Do you have a preference? If somebody said to you can only do one genre or another for the rest of your career? Would you ever preference? Bryan Cranston: Well, those hypothetical questions are always interesting to gauge. I’ll tell you that when doing the film, the most fun I’ve ever had on a film was on a movie called Why Him a little movie I did with James Franco. And it’s just fantastic. It was a fun movie. But every single day, we were cracking each other up and everybody in the cast Keegan Michael Key and Megan Mullally. It was just so much fun. Steve Cuden: Comedy. Bryan Cranston: Comedy. So comedy, going to work and doing comedy is uplifting. When I was doing Breaking Bad, and you go to work, and not every day, but many days it’s kind of a downer. And it was like… You have to wash that off of you. Even though the storytelling was superb. It kind of gets to you after a while. Steve Cuden: I’m not blowing smoke. That’s my favorite all time TV show. Period. Bryan Cranston: Oh, great, thank you. Steve Cuden: It just is, it’s still when it came on. I just watched every single second of it. And I’ve watched it more than once and it’s exceptional. And so all the kudos are more than well deserved. Bryan Cranston: And most of it goes to Vince Gilligan and his writing staff. Steve Cuden: I would concur with you, though you guys, you and Aaron, and all the rest of the folks on that show really brought it home as well. Bryan Cranston: Well, thank you. But Steve, I will say that in my professional history the hardest work I’ve ever had to do is on poorly written material. Steve Cuden: I believe you. Bryan Cranston: When you look at the characters are thinly drawn and it’s like “Well wait, how am I supposed to feel about her? After she said this and why is it… Oh god.” So it’s agonizing to try to develop something on the set, but when you read something like Vince’s script, ah, it’s just you turn the page and you realize, “Oh, I just have to memorize this. And don’t bump into the furniture. And say these words and that’ll guide me.” Steve Cuden: I can only wish that more executives in Hollywood would truly appreciate writers because the writing makes the difference. Bryan Cranston: I can tell you that, it’s my judgment, but I think there’s a lot of actors who would concur with this is that if you have well written material, you have a chance to be a good project. If you do not have well written material, you have no chance to be a good project. Steve Cuden: I believe that. I believe it’s in your book that you say “Meryl Streep with C grade material might raise it to a B, yet it’s not going to become an A.” Bryan Cranston: No. Steve Cuden: And I think that that’s absolutely true. When the writing is exceptional the performances usually are exceptional. Of course, you can screw it up in post, Bryan Cranston: Yes you can. Steve Cuden: But you have a head start with a really great script. Bryan Cranston: Yeah. Steve Cuden: So we are out of time. Bryan Cranston, this has just been awesome. I have to throw in here that I would like to thank our mutual good friend Javier Grajeda who’s a wonderful actor, by the way, and he stars as Juan Bolsa in both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. And I have to thank him for helping to make this interview possible. And I cannot thank you enough for coming on StoryBeat today. This has just been a wonderful show to… And so much wonderful advice for the listeners out there. Bryan Cranston: Well, thank you, Steve. It’s fun again. And next time we’ll do it in person like last time when I was in Pittsburgh shooting Last Flag Flying. Steve Cuden: Which I saw Saturday night for the first time. Bryan Cranston: You did? Steve Cuden: Yes. Bryan Cranston: It’s a sweet movie. It’s a little sleeper movie. Go see Last Flag Flying. Steve Cuden: Steve Carell. Fantastic. Laurence Fishburne, fantastic. And I didn’t expect your performance at all. That was unexpected. Where’d that come from? Bryan Cranston: Yes, exactly. Steve Cuden: So, Bryan, again. Thank you so much. And I would love to see you again in person and do this again. Bryan Cranston: Appreciate it Steve. Thanks so much. Bye bye. Steve Cuden: And so we’ve come to the end of today’s StoryBeat. If you like this podcast, please take a moment to give us a rating or review on whatever app or platform you’re listening to. Your support helps us bring more great StoryBeat episodes to you. Until next time, I’m Steve Cuden. And may all your stories be unforgettable. The post Bryan Cranston, Legendary Actor-Producer-Writer-Director-Episode #132 appeared first on Storybeat with Steve Cuden.


6 Oct 2020