There once was a time when the name Bryan Cranston didn’t bring to mind a modern portrait of ruthless, brilliant, money-hungry evil. For seven seasons, he was simply Hal, the hapless and clumsy father and loving husband from Malcolm in the Middle, who wanted nothing more than to be appreciated for the work he did (and keep his kids from burning down the house). Hal will always be a contender for best dad on television.
A study of Hal and Breaking Bad‘s Walter White reveals that, in addition to a few Jack Lemmon-like gesticulations, the blatant disregard for rules, and a general air of perpetual panic, the two characters seem to have a great deal in common.
Anthony Hopkins writes a letter to Bryan:
Dear Mister Cranston.
I wanted to write you this email – so I am contacting you through Jeremy Barber – I take it we are both represented by UTA . Great agency. I’ve just finished a marathon of watching "BREAKING BAD" – from episode one of the First Season – to the last eight episodes of the Sixth Season. (I downloaded the last season on AMAZON) A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing. I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant! Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen – ever.
I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I’ve sort of lost belief in anything really.
But this work of yours is spectacular – absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers…. every department – casting etc. managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is (that over used word) awesome.
From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek Tragedy.
If you ever get a chance to – would you pass on my admiration to everyone – Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada – everyone – everyone gave master classes of performance … The list is endless.
Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence.
You and all the cast are the best actors I’ve ever seen.
That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing. But it is not. It’s almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email.
Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor.