From Heisenberg to Ned: A Conversation with Oscar Nominated Actor Bryan Cranston for the Home Entertainment Release of WHY HIM?
Bryan Cranston is an Academy Award nominee, a four time Emmy Award winner, and a Golden Globe and Tony Award winner.
Bryan recently starred as the title character in Jay Roach’s TRUMBO. His performance garnered him nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a SAG Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Critics’ Choice Award in 2016 for “Best Actor.”
Next, Bryan stars in John Hamburg’s WHY HIM? alongside James Franco, which will be released nationwide on December 23, 2016. Later, he will appear as the title role in Robin Swicord's independent feature, WAKEFIELD. Bryan was also last seen in Brad Furman’s THE INFILTRATOR.
On stage, Cranston made his Broadway debut as President Lyndon B. Johnson in ALL THE WAY by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan. Bryan won the 2014 Tony® Award for his performance, as well as a Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and Theater World Award for “Outstanding Actor in a Play.” Bryan went on to produce the film adaption of the play through his production company, Moonshot Entertainment, along with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Tale Told Productions. It premiered on HBO in May 2016.
Moonshot Entertainment has also developed the drama series SNEAKY PETE for Amazon and the animated series SUPERMANSION for Crackle.
Bryan’s other feature film credits include: Gareth Edwards’ GODZILLA, Ben Affleck's ARGO, Len Wiseman’s remake of TOTAL RECALL, Nicholas Winding Refn’s DRIVE, Steven Soderbergh’s CONTAGION, Brad Furman’s THE LINCOLN LAWYER, Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris’ LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Steven Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and Tom Hanks’ LARRY CROWN and THAT THING YOU DO!, among others. Bryan has also lent his voice to DreamWorks Animation films KUNG FU PANDA 3 and MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED.
On television, Bryan’s portrayal of Walter White on AMC’s BREAKING BAD garnered him four Emmy® Awards, four SAG Awards and a Golden Globe Award. Bryan holds the honor of being the first actor in a cable series and the second lead actor in the history of the Emmy® Awards to receive three consecutive wins.
As a producer on BREAKING BAD, Bryan won two Emmy® Awards and a Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award for “Outstanding Drama Series.”
Behind the camera, Bryan was nominated for the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for BREAKING BAD (in 2014) and MODERN FAMILY (in 2013 and 2014). Cranston also wrote, directed, and acted in the original romantic drama LAST CHANCE as a birthday gift for his wife and star of the film, Robin Dearden.
Bryan’s career began with a role on the television movie LOVE WITHOUT END, which led to him being signed as an original cast member of ABC's LOVING. He went on to appear as Hal on FOX's MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, which ran for seven seasons and for which Cranston was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and three Emmy® Awards.
Cranston is also a spokesperson and longtime supporter of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC is the leading non-profit organization in the U.S. working with law enforcement, families and professionals on issues related to missing and sexually exploited children.
Given the extreme darkness of the last few seasons of BREAKING BAD, how did it feel to return to comedy?
Great! That's been part of the reason that I decided to do this, because I've been doing a lot of dramas lately, and I love doing them. You’re playing important characters and it’s good storytelling. But I missed just having silly fun on the set. Just the intrinsic value of laughter. I thought about this as a challenge. This feels like it's a challenge to be able, at my age, to do a lead in a comedy for a studio. “Yeah, let's do that. That sounds like fun.” Talking with John Hamburg a lot about the development of it, and wanting to make sure that the comedy is based in a foundational sense, and then you can go silly from there, that has been really rewarding.
How much did the script develop when you were brought on board?
I think good writers are able to adapt and be flexible to casting. They write to the strengths of people who are going to be playing those roles. We had several meetings with James and myself and John, each expressing our interest in a direction. In fact, this scene we’re shooting today, where it culminates in a boiling over point for these two men who are so aggressive to each other, wasn't necessarily to this extent in the script, and we both felt that it should get to the point where it just gets out of control and everything breaks apart. Once that happens, the physical breakage and carnage that's left behind matches the emotional carnage that's left behind, and then repair work has to be done. To me, that's a more satisfying storytelling process.
There are moments when you agree with Ned. Your loyalties as an audience member go back and forth, because neither of these people is “the antagonist”, in the traditional sense.
Yeah, because again, it's steeped in an honest experience. I think men my age will look at this and go, "I'd feel the same way." If my daughter had this lunatic as a boyfriend, it would drive me crazy. I have a 23-year-old daughter, so it wasn't a stretch for me to tap into that fear, and that worry or concern that that's going to happen. It's all steeped in reality. Ned just has this feeling about Laird. He is off his rocker. He's crazy. Then Ned goes a little obsessive himself, and the obsession then overlaps into competition with each other, and then it's game on. As men, we have full capability of being idiots, and that's what happens here.
How has that competitiveness been to play with James?
It is a lot of fun. What resonated with all three of us - the men who were in these meetings - was that it felt honest. It felt that, yeah, my guy would feel this way, and Laird would feel the other way. The one thing that we wanted to carefully maintain with this is the integrity of Laird, that he doesn't have the gear to lie. Sure, he's clumsy socially, and he can hurt feelings and he gives out too much information, and he doesn't have several filters, but he is not a liar. That's what Ned comes to realize, that he hasn't lied once throughout this entire experience, and yet Ned has lied over and over and over again. Who's the better man?
What we wanted to make sure, out of all this chaos, comes a lesson for both men. We each taught each other something we didn't even know we needed to learn. We're better people by the end of it. We can go to the theater, have fun, laugh, get a little crude, get a little silly. But if it's not steeped in some sense of reality, it's not as rich an experience.
Why Him? is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday May 1, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment