Bryan Cranston’s Advice to Aspiring Actors

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Bryan Cranston takes pride in the fact that he’s been a working actor for most of his life. Starting in the industry in his 20s, the Hollywood native believed there would always be actors with more talent than him, so he tried to have an edge on the competition by outworking them, as doing so was within his control. This attitude has certainly steered him well, earning him five Emmy Awards and an Oscar nod to date.

During a Team Coco interview with Conan O’Brien, Cranston responded to his Breaking Bad co-star Aaron Paul’s description of Cranston as one of “the most professional people” he’s ever worked with, but also “the most immature person” he’s ever worked with. Cranston laughed and said, “I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I think you can be sincere and have the things you want set up in your life, and enjoy it. Don’t take it too seriously; don’t feel you’re entitled to anything. You’re very lucky. And I think if you flow with that, you get the chance to goof around and have fun.”

The Malcolm in the Middle actor is known for giving sage advice to aspiring talent, and he offers some this time around as well. “I think it depends on how you were raised, the principles you stand by, I really do,” he asserts. “I tell actors all the time: ‘Get your personal life in order. If you really want to be an actor, you have to get your personal life in order so that you don’t flake out. You get your first job and you have a nice big paycheck, don’t go blow it on something. Put it away so … you can be an actor and make a living at it.’”

Cranston’s typical day as a leading man
Bob Odenkirk credits Cranston with helping him when he was set to front the series “Better Call Saul.” Odenkirk asked the star what his typical work day looked like while playing Walter White on the wildly popular “Breaking Bad.” Cranston advised him, “Here’s what you do. You get to set, you’ve learned your lines, you work. At lunch, you study your lines. You get to set, you work. You ask them to make you dinner, like a sandwich or something from the cart, and then you bring that home so you don’t have to make dinner because you need to work when you get home. And then you work at night, and then you go to bed. And then you do that again the next day. And then on weekends, you rehearse and learn your lines.” Odenkirk told Off Camera. “And that was reassuring. I mean I walked away from that going okay, right. You just work constantly and then you’ll be okay. And that’s what I did.”

No whining
Cranston doesn’t have the patience to hear actors complain about their jobs. He insists, “If you’re lucky enough to be in a business that you love to do, a creative one and you make a living, I don’t want to hear a complaint out of you. I don’t want to hear that you have to be there at 6:00 in the morning. We’re acting. Look at us. Every job that I work on where I lead the cast, I try to set that example. I don’t want to hear any complaints from anyone. There’s enough artistic frustration within—a joke’s not landing, this is not working, oh we need to recast because this didn’t work out. There are enough problems to deal with. You should not be dealing with any kind of problems of ‘I don’t want to be here that early,’ or ‘How late do we have to stay?’ Or some actors who don’t want to be off-camera for another actor.”

Separate acting from your personal life
The tools actors use to get into character are not necessarily helpful when applied to an actor’s personal life. Cranston cautions performers: “As an actor—and you’re trained to do this— you’re self-centered, and you should be. What does my character want? Who’s in my character’s way? How does my character get these things? What does my character feel about something? Actors find themselves in trouble if they take that self-centered nature that is good and works well for their craft, if they take that out into their personal life. What do I want? Who’s in my way?”

Want to get your acting career started? Sign up or log in to Casting Frontier and start auditioning today!

Related articles:
Jamie Lee Curtis on Her Oscar Nomination
‘The Whale’ Actor Brendan Fraser on His Comeback
‘Causeway’ Actor Brian Tyree Henry on Surrendering to the Character

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