Bryan Cranston is an American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. He is most popular for the powerful characters that he played in various TV shows. Cranston experimented with many career options before he discovered his passion for acting. In the initial days of his career, he performed small roles in TV shows. Having a deep and powerful voice, Cranston also lent his voice to many movies and TV shows. His role in the TV series ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ spelt a big break for him. After its remarkable success, he played major roles in other shows too. He has won several ‘Emmy Awards’ and a ‘Tony Award’ for his outstanding performances. He has won an ‘Academy Award’ nomination too, for his performance in the movie ‘Trumbo.’ He is an avid baseball fan and is involved in humanitarian work. Cranston lives in South California with his wife and is still actively involved in his profession.
Childhood & Early Life
Bryan Lee Cranston was born on March 7, 1956, in Hollywood, California. His mother, Annalisa, was a radio actor, and his father, Joseph Louis Cranston, was an amateur boxer and actor. Cranston’s mother was the daughter of German immigrants, and his father was of Irish, German, and Austrian–Jewish descent. Cranston was their second child. He has an elder brother, Kyle, and a younger sister, Amy.
Cranston’s father was a struggling actor. He was disappointed about not attaining stardom and ultimately abandoned his family. Cranston was 11 years old at that time. His family lost their home in a foreclosure, and Cranston and his brother had to live with their grandparents.
Bryan Cranston graduated from the ‘Canoga Park High School.’ Thereafter, he earned an associate’s degree in police science from the ‘Los Angeles Valley College.’ In his younger days, Cranston dreamt of becoming a police officer. While in college, he selected acting as one of his elective subjects and soon discovered his love for theater and acting. Cranston decided to pursue his acting career after graduating from college in 1976.
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Cranston began his acting career with ‘Granada Theater’ in the San Fernando Valley, California. Initially, he took up odd jobs, working as a waiter, a truck loader, and a security guard. In the 1980s, he started getting small roles and advertisements.
From 1983 to 1985, Cranston played ‘Douglas Donovan’ in the ‘ABC’ TV series 'Loving.’ In 1988, he played ‘Russell’ in the ‘CBS’ series ‘Raising Miranda.’ He lent his voice to the dubbed English version of the Japanese anime ‘Macross Plus’ and to the series ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.’
In the 1990s, Bryan Cranston played characters that helped him showcase his acting prowess. From 1994 to 1997, he played ‘Dr. Tim Whatley’ in ‘Seinfeld,’ a sitcom aired on ‘NBC.’ His role was that of a dentist, who made recurring appearances in the series. In 1998, Cranston played the astronaut ‘Buzz Aldrin’ in the ‘HBO’ miniseries ‘From the Earth to the Moon.’ The same year, he played an American colonel in the highly acclaimed Steven Spielberg movie ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ In 1999, he directed the movie ‘Last Chance.’ He acted in various stage plays too, such as ‘The God of Hell,’ and ‘A Doll’s House.’
In 2000, Bryan Cranston’s career got a major boost when was selected for a leading role in ‘Malcolm in the Middle.’ It was a comedy series aired on ‘Fox.’ Cranston played ‘Hal,’ the immature father of five children. He was part of the cast until the series went off air in 2006. His role in the series fetched him three ‘Emmy Award’ nominations for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.’ Cranston has also directed several episodes of this series.
From 2008 to 2013, Cranston played ‘Walter White’ in the ‘AMC’ crime drama ‘Breaking Bad,’ which was a major milestone of his career. His portrayed a teacher diagnosed with cancer, who starts manufacturing prohibited drugs in order to ensure the financial soundness of his family after his death. Cranston performed this challenging role very convincingly. His performance won him the ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series’ for three consecutive seasons. He received five ‘Golden Globe’ nominations and one win for the same role. Cranston was the producer of the fourth and fifth seasons of the series and directed a few episodes too.
Cranston has produced an instructional DVD called ‘KidSmartz,’ aimed at ensuring child safety in the digital world. It talks about the ways to stay safe from predators on the internet. He donates a part of its sales proceeds to the ‘National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.’
In 2014, Cranston played ‘Lyndon B. Johnson’ in the ‘Broadway’ play ‘All The Way.’ His performance earned him the ‘Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.’ In 2015, he played ‘Dalton Trumbo’ in the movie ‘Trumbo.’ It was a biographical movie based on the life of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. His performance received immense critical acclaim and earned Cranston his first ‘Academy Award’ nomination. In 2016, Bryan Cranston lent his voice to the character of ‘Li,’ the biological father of ‘Po,’ in ‘Kung Fu Panda 3.’
Bryan Cranston has married twice. In 1977, he married writer Mickey Middleton. The couple divorced in 1982. Later, he met actor Robin Dearden on the sets of the series ‘Airwolf.’ The series had Cranston playing the villain and Dearden playing the hostage. They got married on July 8, 1989. The couple has a daughter, Taylor Dearden Cranston, who is also an actor. Taylor made an appearance in an episode of ‘Breaking Bad,’ which was directed by Cranston.
Cranston is an ardent baseball fan. He played the game as a student and loves collecting baseball memorabilia. He is a supporter of the baseball teams ‘Philadelphia Phillies’ and ‘Los Angeles Dodgers.’ He has also donated collections from his ‘Broadway’ play ‘All the Way’ to AIDS-related causes.
Cranston and his brother tracked their father down, eleven years after he abandoned them. Cranston maintained ties with his father till his death in 2014. It is said that when Cranston played ‘Walter White’ in ‘Breaking Bad,’ he modeled the character on his father. He gave a slumped posture to his character, just as his father had. Speaking about his father, Cranston is said to have stated that it seemed as if “the weight of the world was on his shoulders.”
After graduating in 1976, Cranston went on a two-year cross-country motorcycle expedition with his brother. They would occasionally stop to earn money and would soon be back on the road. After this trip, the brothers settled in California, to become actors.
In his early years, Cranston was ordained as a minister by the ‘Universal Life Church.’ He used to conduct wedding services to supplement his meagre income.