Wednesday, July 06, 2011

"Breaking Bad" actor Bryan Cranston on acting and fidelity to character

“Physically, to create Walter White, I use my dad,” he said one night over dinner. “My dad is 87 years old. I’m not going to dodder, but Walter is always a little hunched over, never erect. The message to the audience is that the weight of the world is on this man’s shoulders.”

Cranston is from the total-commitment school of acting, and he once famously did a scene in “Malcolm in the Middle” while covered head to toe with bees. When Gilligan declined to fill in large holes in Walter’s back story, Cranston sat down and wrote out one of his own. On a handful of occasions, he has flagged lines in the script that felt false to him. Cranston reads each episode about a week in advance so that these bumps can be smoothed over before it’s time to start shooting. When he can’t resolve the issue with the writer on the set that week, a call is placed to Gilligan, who is usually in the writer’s room in Burbank. “It’s up to them, but I won’t bend unless I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do,” Cranston says. “Convince me and I’ll do it. I have a theory — our job isn’t to lie to the audience, our job is to find the truth in the character. If we lie, we’re giving the audience a little pinch of poison. They won’t even know they ingested it. But if you lie again and again and again, all of a sudden, your audience is going, ‘This isn’t working for me.’ They just feel sick, and they turn you off.”

Read the full story on Breaking Bad HERE in the NYT Magazine.

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