For over two decades Bryan Cranston has been a mainstay on our television screens. From playing an inept suburban dad on Malcom in the Middle to tackling his iconic chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin on Breaking Bad to the conflicted father/judge Michael Desiato in Your Honor – the actor has made a career of delivering layered, complex characters that demand your attention.
When taking on a role it is crucial for him to have something to say, to explore new sides of the character and to never take the easy path. When it came to returning as Walter White in the final season of Better Call Saul, he was willing to because show runner (and genius) Vince Gilligan had a vision for the character and the series. The same goes for a second season of Showtime’s Your Honor, one that was very different than the first. In Cranston’s eyes it was not automatically going to happen unless the proper care was put into exploring Michael Desiato in ways that expanded on our understanding of the character.
All it takes is a a few seconds of hearing Cranston dissect his roles and you quickly realize how passionate he is about character driven performances. Luckily, Bryan Cranston spoke with Awards Radar (again, after having previously chatted with Joey here) not only for a few second but for a lengthy and fascinating conversation where the actor explored his characters and work in depth. Just some of the topics he explored include: the moral tug-of-war his Your Honor characters faces, how Walter White came to be, the long wait before appearing on Better Call Saul and if he would return to play the beloved Breaking Bad character again – plus much more.
Watch the full interview below:
Here are some very insightful excerpts from our conversation that span Breaking Bad to Your Honor to Better Call Saul and beyond.
On exploring his Your Honor character from a new perspective in season two:
“Showtime wanted to do a second season. I said, ‘Well, if we really do explore where he is,’ and the second thing is that we open up and allow these other great actors around to really have a foothold and really tell their stories in a more broadened way – so it’s not so Michael Desiato-centric in the season two. They liked that and said, ‘What do you have in mind for Michael?’ I said, ‘Well, he’s in despair. He’s in the worst grief. I don’t think he wants to live. I think it’s if the first season is more King Lear, this is more Hamlet where he’s contemplating suicide, or even approaching wanting it. And I thought, ‘Oh,’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, when does he get his mojo back and go after Jimmy Baxter.’ I said, ‘He doesn’t.’ This is not something where we find him trying to make amends by helping other inmates with their legal problems. He wants to die. He wants to his body to to catch up to his mind and his soul and his spirit. He’s dead inside and he’s lost everything. There’s no point. He’s lost his his integrity.”
On would he return to play Walter White ever again:
“I never underestimate Vince Gilligan. I thought when we were saying like on April 3, just a little while ago, that 10 years earlier was our last production day on Breaking Bad… 10 years ago. I thought when I was saying my tearful goodbyes to everybody that that was it. Then El Camino came up. ‘Oh, I guess I’m gonna be Walter White again. And then Better Call Saul came up, ‘Oh, I guess I’m gonna be on,”…and then Pop Corners commercial comes up. ‘You guys want to play it together?’ ‘Sure!’ It’s just fun. So now I’d be a fool to say, ‘Yeah, we’re done.’ I’ll just leave it at nothing’s on the horizon and I know that Vince would not want to do something where – he doesn’t need a paycheck and neither do I – and so let’s honor that. But IF there was something that he that he woke up from a dream, and went, ‘Oh my God,’ and he pitched me on it, and I too, had the ‘OH MY GOD’ reaction then I’d look at it. It’s not often that you get an ‘OH MY GOD’ reaction when you read or hear a pitch. If you’re stunned and astonished by something, you should pay attention. So, if that happens, I don’t assume that will – but if that ever did, I’d listen.”
On the similarity between Walter White and Saul Goodman:
“I think what I think in a general sense, I think everyone is capable of doing things that would shock even yourself in the right set of circumstances. And I think Walter White was given a set of circumstances in a more condensed way that justified his actions there going forward. Jimmy McGill, Saul Goodman was it was more of a lifelong seed planting, foundational kind of person that he is – and it’s the long play. This is really who he is. And he won’t really ever change that way.”
Watch all of Bryan Cranston’s incredible work on Showtime’s Your Honor, his guest spot on AMC’s Better Call Saul and of course on Breaking Bad and much more.