Bryan Cranston started his acting career at his local theatre in the San Fernando Valley, the Granada Theatre, after studying police science in Los Angeles. To fund his time as an aspiring actor, Cranston became an ordained minister and performed weddings at $150 a time. Worked picked up in the 1980s, and Cranston started acting mostly in television adverts and minor roles in sitcoms.
Cranston’s screen career began to gain pace after he became an original cast member in the ABC show Loving. He then forged a career dubbing the English voices of Japanese anime cartoons under the name Lee Stone, and in 1993, he played a number of characters on the children’s TV series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
A number of roles in shows such as Seinfeld and The X Files led to Cranston being cast in the US comedy series Malcolm in the Middle as Hal, the father of the Wilkerson family. The show ran for just over six years and established Cranston as a comic actor. However, two years after the show ended, Vince Gilligan (who wrote the episode of The X Files Cranston appeared in), cast the actor in his new series Breaking Bad, which followed an ordinary chemistry teacher who turned to manufacturing methamphetamine to pay for his cancer treatment. As the show became a cult hit, Cranston garnered huge praise for the role, winning four Emmy Awards for the part.
As Breaking Bad took off, Cranston managed to gain a reputation as a serious dramatic actor, without shaking his charm as a comic one. He made his Broadway debut in 2014 in All the Way, a play about President Lyndon B Johnson’s attempts to put in place the Civil Rights Act of 1984. Cranston played President Johnson, winning the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. For the New York Times, Charles Isherwood stated “Mr Cranston’s heat-generating performance galvanizes the production”.
In November 2017, Cranston made his UK theatre debut in Network at the National Theatre. Adapted by Lee Hall and directed by Ivo van Hove, the production was based on the Paddy Chayefsky film depicting Howard Beale, an American news anchor failing to pull in viewing figures. During his final broadcast, he begins to rant about the state of the nation, which proves to be wildly popular. Cranston then starred in the Broadway transfer of Network, winning a second Tony in 2019.