Bryan Cranston as Walter White

Bryan Cranston

Bryan Lee Cranston, who plays the lead role of Walter White on Breaking Bad, is an American actor, screenwriter, director and producer, also known for portraying Hal in the Fox comedy series Malcolm in the Middle (2000–2006). For Breaking Bad, Cranston won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series three consecutive times, making him the first person to do so since Bill Cosby in the 1960s, as well as the award for Outstanding Drama Series, after he became one of the show’s producers in 2011. He was also nominated three times for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in Malcolm in the Middle. His role in Breaking Bad also earned him five Golden Globe nominations and one win in 2014, nine Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations with four wins, and five Saturn Award nominations with two wins. He has directed episodes of various television series, including seven episodes of Malcolm in the Middle and three episodes of Breaking Bad.

Cranston was born on March 7, 1956 and raised in Canoga Park, California, the son of Audrey Peggy Sell, a radio actress, and Joseph Louis “Joe” Cranston, an actor and Hollywood producer. Second of their three children, he is of Austrian, English, German and Irish ancestry on his father’s side, while his maternal grandparents were immigrants from Germany. As he stated in reference to his upbringing, «my mom and dad were both broken people, and because of that, they were incapacitated as far as parenting. They weren’t capable, and we lost the house in a foreclosure. We were kicked out». He was raised partly by his grandparents, living on their farm and working with poultry in the Los Angeles area, where he graduated from Canoga Park High School and earned an associate degree in police science from Los Angeles Valley College in 1976.

Bryan Cranston as Douglas DonovanAfter college Cranston began his acting career in local and regional theaters, getting his start at the Granada Theater in the San Fernando Valley. He had previously performed as a youth, but his show business parents had mixed feelings about their son being involved in the profession, so he did not continue until years later. He has worked regularly since the late 1980s, mostly in minor roles. His advertising work includes commercials for Coffee-Mate, Excedrin, Frito Lay, Honda Accord, and Preparation H. His voice acting includes English dubbing of Japanese anime under the name Lee Stone, including Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honneamise, Macross Plus, and Armitage III Polymatrix.

He was an original cast member of the ABC soap opera Loving, where he played Douglas Donovan from 1983 to 1985. Cranston also starred in the short-lived series Raising Miranda in 1988. He portrayed astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon. He also played astronaut Gus Grissom in the film That Thing You Do! In 1998 he appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, as the colonel who insists that Private Ryan be saved.

From 1994 to 1997, Cranston appeared as Dr. Tim Whatley, Jerry’s dentist, on Seinfeld. Several episodes focused on Jerry’s paranoia about Tim in bizarre situations, such as when Jerry becomes obsessed with the notion that Tim and his female assistant are molesting him while he is unconscious during dental surgery. In 1999, on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens, Cranston played Doug Heffernan’s annoying neighbor, Tim Sacksky, who at one point becomes a water purifier salesman and recruits Doug to sell them with him. In 1997, Cranston had a small role in Babylon 5 as Ericsson, the captain of a White Star vessel ordered into a suicide mission to plant misinformation within the enemy ranks. Later in 1999, Cranston wrote and directed the film Last Chance. His theatrical credits include starring roles in The God of Hell, Chapter Two, The Taming of the Shrew, A Doll’s House, Barefoot in the Park, Eastern Standard, Wrestlers and The Steven Weed Show, for which he won a Drama-Logue Award.

In 2000, Cranston landed a leading role as Hal Wilkerson on the comedy series Malcolm in the Middle. He would eventually direct several episodes of the show, and received three Emmy nominations for his performance. He has had guest roles in many television series, including a white-collar criminal searching for his estranged wife and daughter in The Flash, a lawyer attempting to free the title character from a contract in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and a bigoted man being driven insane by extremely low frequency sonar waves in The X-Files episode “Drive”. He also had a guest role in late 2006 on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, playing Ted Mosby’s obnoxious co-worker and former boss Hammond Druthers.

Bryan CranstonHe played Lucifer in the ABC Family miniseries Fallen. Cranston appeared as Nick Wrigley, an irresponsible uncle who accidentally brings Christmas close to destruction when he steals Santa’s sleigh to have a crazy ride, in the 2001 Disney Channel Original Movie ‘Twas the Night. He appeared as the more successful business colleague of Greg Kinnear’s character in the 2007 film Little Miss Sunshine. In September 2008, Cranston narrated a pre-teen adventure/fantasy audiobook called Adventures with Kazmir the Flying Camel. He had supporting roles in the drama film The Lincoln Lawyer, as well as the successful thrillers Drive and Contagion. He voiced James Gordon in the 2011 animated film Batman: Year One. In 2012, he had supporting roles in John Carter, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, and Rock of Ages, and a major role in the hostage drama Argo. He also lent his voice to several episodes of the animated series Robot Chicken. In 2012, he starred in the remake of the 1990 film Total Recall, as Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen, the corrupted president of a fictional war-ravaged United Federation of Britain.

In the same year, he made a guest appearance as Kenneth Parcell’s step-father, Ron, on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, and was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Cranston has produced an instructional DVD called KidSmartz, which is designed to educate families on how to stay safe from child abduction and Internet predators. KidSmartz raises money for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, by donating half the proceeds from sales. After the success of Breaking Bad, it was reported that Bryan would be developing new TV shows in collaboration with Sony Pictures Television.

Cranston played baseball when he was a student and remains a collector of baseball memorabilia and avid fan of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers. From 1977 to 1982 he was married to writer Mickey Middleton. At 33 he married Robin Dearden whom he had met on the set of the show Airwolf in 1984. He was playing the villain of the week, and she played his hostage held at gunpoint. Their daughter, Taylor Dearden Cranston, born in 1993, is a theatre studies student at the University of Southern California and played an extra in one of the Breaking Bad episodes directed by her father. In accepting his third Emmy as Best Lead Actor in a Drama, Cranston thanked his wife and daughter and told them that he loves them «more than baseball».


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