The scene is one of the most remembered of the series Breaking Bad: Walter White enters the apartment of the young Jesse Pinkman, who sleeps next to his girlfriend, Jane, after a night of drugs and alcohol. Suddenly she starts coughing. When she starts to vomit, White turns her on her back so she chokes and dies. She is an uncomfortable witness. The actor, Bryan Cranston (Los Angeles, 1956), was suddenly shocked and also skipped. That’s what viewers saw, but it didn’t have to be.
“What came over me at that moment was a real fear, my worst fear. A fear that he had not fully anticipated or assumed. And my reaction is there, forever, at the end of the scene. I cover my mouth with my hand, horrified, ”he says. He should have just coldly assassinated her, watched, and gone. A new Heisenberg crime. But the actor did not see the actress Krysten Ritter at that time, but his own daughter.
This is one of the confessions that Cranston makes in the book Sequences of a life, recently published in Spanish by Ediciones B. The interpreter recounts his efforts over decades to become a star. Long before he was one of the most admired characters in television history, he had to grapple with soap opera roles, commercials – his first job was an ad about Mars bars – and whatever came out to pay the bills. If anyone thought that this was reaching out and touching the sky, Cranston dismantles, even with a bit of bad temper, the stereotype.
To begin with because his childhood in Los Angeles was not the best possible. His parents, small-time actors – in Hollywood not all are big stars – divorced when he was a child – the father left with another woman, the mother drank – and he had to start earning a living since he was just a kid. . His first jobs as a flea market vendor, farmer, newspaper boy, or house painter parade through the pages. The actor reveals that it was on a trip to Europe, when he had not yet reached his twenties, when he lost his virginity. It was not a scene to remember: he paid a prostitute. And I finished. There were no fireworks. Nor tenderness. No conversation. We didn’t even tell each other our names (…). For her it had been a completely forgettable moment. But it would be a moment that I would never forget ”, he describes.
It was at the beginning of his studies in Criminalistics – curious that the future Walter White studied police lessons – that he signed up for an elective course in interpretation. There the acting bug would bubble for the first time. A motorcycle trip through the US with his older brother, Ed, in 1976, at a time when pop culture was infected by movies like Easy Rider, predisposed him even more on that path. The game of rebellion. “The most incredible thing about youth is that you still haven’t gotten tired of fighting and therefore you try everything,” he says.
He met his first wife, Michelle Mickey Middleton, at a Daytona theater. It was also his enlightenment to be an actor. He attended multiple classes, read everything he could. In fact, to get the role of the guy in the Mars bar ad, where he had to climb a mountain, he paid for a climbing course, because he had no idea. And he achieve it.
In the eighties and nineties his roles in soap operas such as Loving. One-day roles, playing bad – divorced from his first wife, it was in one of these chapters that he met his second and current wife, Robin Dearden, whom he proposed to marry in a jacuzzi, he confesses— because “those were the roles for the invited artists. If you were a regular on a series, you were a good guy. ” Meanwhile, he also ran marathons. It was his way of being at peace. “If your life is sane, that will allow you to go crazy at work,” he says as advice to young actors.
Of course, for many readers the juiciest pages will be found when the actor enters the age of Breaking Bad. Getting to this series was almost a carom. The creator, Vince Gilligan, remembered him for one of those specific roles in File X. They called him for a test, but just in those days, Cranston was about to sign for another soap opera, Nurses, a kind of Grey’s Anatomy. After reading the script of Breaking Bad, was determined to become Walter White, so he wove a trap: he spread the rumor that he was already engaged to the series of doctors to skip a casting which also included Matthew Broderick and Steve Zahn. The ploy worked. They quickly called him from the production company of Breaking Bad and they gave him the role. Somehow, Bryan Cranston had already become Walter White and his alter ego, Heisenberg.
It was he who decided what the chemist would look like. He was also the one who bet on the slips They continually appear in the series. And it was he who managed to turn this character, a timid and depressed professor, into an evil drug dealer, a murderer, to whom, however, viewers from around the world were hooked. “When Walt poisons the boy, the gray moral zone has already disappeared. It’s a blurry memory, and the audience, if they were sane, should have said: Fuck this guy, he’s crazy. It is bad. But it was too late. You were already loyal to him, ”Cranston says.
They were tough days. If a chapter had to be shot in eight days, many times the time was exceeded. Cranston was personally involved and even suggested some changes to the scenes, such as one of the saddest in the entire series: the one in which Heisenberg kills Mike’s character, one of the most beloved by the public. In the script, the actor had to say a pathetic phrase after killing him: “I just realized that Lydia has the names. I can ask her. ” He didn’t want to do it because he thought his character would “look like a jerk.” Gilligan didn’t give his arm to twist. And yes, Walter White was a jerk.
The series was full of awards and the actor who came from the world of commercials and soap operas became a star. There is, however, no feeling of vertigo, despite the fact that now the good roles are raining down on him. At the end of the book, Cranston puts his family before everything else: grief over the death of his father, admiration for his daughter, also turned into an actress. And the work as a theater actor, where it started. The reflection of a man who knows what it is to sweat success.