Bryan Cranston was born on the 7th of March, 1956 in San Fernando Valley, California. That’s right, you did the math correctly, the
man is 56 years old. While it’s clear that the star of the almost universally acclaimed AMC show ‘Breaking Bad’ isn’t exactly a spring chicken, it’s crazy to believe that it has taken so long for him to be recognised for his considerable acting chops. After his ground-breaking performance as Snizard in ‘The Mighty Power Rangers’ way back in 1993, it’s difficult to fathom that the man wasn’t offered all of the meaty roles right there and then. Looking back on his eclectic roles in the past, it is clear that his success was a long time coming. He has bit parts on many other shows including ‘Murder She Wrote’, ‘Baywatch’, ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ and ‘Seinfeld’ to name but a few. His big break came in the part of Hal in the TV show ‘Malcolm in the Middle’. Still, while the show was undoubtedly popular, it seems that he hadn’t really been recognised as a great talent until entering the role of the bumbling, seemingly innocent crystal meth cook who is riddled with cancer, Walter White. And recognised he has been, having won three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance.
He isn’t the first person to reach success later in life, Julianne Moore didn’t become a recognisable name until her role as Maude Lebowski in ‘The Big Lebowski’ at the age of 38. Similarly Jon Hamm’s big break in Mad Men didn’t come until he was 36. Cranston’s success has also brought on a whole slew of appearances in big budget movies this year alone, such as ‘John Carter’, ‘Rock of Ages’, the remake of ‘Total Recall’ and the upcoming ‘Argo’. Last year he appeared alongside Ryan Gosling in, ‘Drive’. The actor portrayed a down on his luck mechanic in what has now become a bit of cult classic. In an interview on Marc Maron’s podcast ‘WTF with Marc Maron’, Maron enquired as to whether Cranston had been tempted to retire following the success of ‘Malcolm in the Middle’, Bryan said that he hadn’t–
“I love to act. So, I love all parts of it. I actually love to work on scenes and perform.”
Evidently, Cranston didn’t get into acting for the money or fame aspect, but just a way of making his living via the craft the he is so passionate about. In the same interview he tells Marc that when he was starting out he just wanted to make his living as an actor and for him that would constitute as a successful life He just wanted to work, the same way that his father before him worked and supported his family through acting –
“That’s the way most actors are. Really, most actors would just love the opportunity to work as an actor and whatever level that brings I was willing to go. If that meant that I was living in a studio apartment with a roommate for the rest of my life then that was the way it was going to be.”
If you really think about it, his rise is hasn’t been so sudden at all. The man has been working consistently since the early 1980’s, and so has a lot more experience than one might first assume. In a culture where it has become the desirable norm to suddenly become famous overnight, it’s unthinkable that Cranston has worked so hard for years without much recognition at all. A man who works as an actor for the simple love of the profession rather than a desire for fame and fortune is an anomaly in this day and age, hopefully his example can serve as a lesson to those who heed the call of instant celebrity.