Bryan Cranston is considered one of America's most versatile actors having conquered film, Broadway, and television to critical acclaim. His ability to develop a character and to morph into the physical and psychological deportments of each role is truly remarkable, causing fellow actors and directors to be keen to work with him. Growing up in southern California, his childhood was chaotic: his father left when he was 11, his mother took to drinking, and Cranston and his brother were left to a hardscrabble life. However, the future thespian’s path was aligned with the stars. While in college studying police science, a chance encounter in an elective acting class changed the trajectory of his life forever. At age 20, while on an Easy-Rider-ish 2-year motorcycle trip across America with his brother, he set his mind firmly on becoming an actor.
The 1980s were kind to Cranston, who had steady work as a young actor on some of the decade’s most popular television shows – CHiPs, Falcon Crest, Baywatch, Hillstreet Blues, Airwolf, but his rise to fame was a slow burn. It was not until 2000 that his career really took off, after he landed a leading role as the jinxed dad in the comedy series Malcolm In the Middle. But it was the year 2008, when he bagged the career-defining part of Walter White — the ordinary, but dying and strapped for cash high-school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin — in the AMC show Breaking Bad, that magic happened. The show, which was shot in the Route 66 city Albuquerque, developed a cult-like following and has been labeled one of the greatest shows in TV history. Cranston’s embodiment of antihero Walter White and his talent in taking audiences to unimaginable places, not only turned him into a household name, but also into a megastar.
With over 30 movies, including Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Godzilla (2014), Trumbo (2015) and All the Way (2016), and over 20 television series appearances, to his credit, the Academy Award-nominated and multiple Emmy-winning actor, writer and director candidly shares with ROUTE on his turbulent childhood, his life-defining motorcycle trips across America, his favorite places in Albuquerque, and a whole lot more.
Cranston is warm and funny and as we discovered, one heck of a fascinating, nice guy.
A Conversation with Bryan Cranston - By Brennen Matthews, Photographs by Joey L
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