Bryan Cranston, whose much beloved "Breaking Bad" wrapped last year and is now looking ahead to the upcoming "Godzilla" reboot as well as currently starring as Lyndon B. Johnson on Broadway, sat down for a great interview with the Guardian, where he talked everything from sympathy for Walter White, to the importance of project quality over pay offers, the kiss that got him into acting and more. Quote highlights, below.
In defense of Walter White:
"Do anyone's motives have purity? Mother Theresa, maybe. But people like that are saints who walk the earth, and very few. ‘Breaking Bad’ resonated because there's a Walter White in every person in the world. We're all capable of it. It's never realized in most of us. But given the right circumstances, anyone could be threatened enough, fearful enough, desirous enough. Walt was a man who was depressed; his emotions were cocooned. He didn't know how he felt. And then the terminal diagnosis frees him: 'Fuck it! If I do one bold thing in my life, this is it. And it's for my family. And then I die.' Of course, a simple plan goes awry."
On not taking money into account when choosing roles:
"Nowhere on that assessment scale is money. Money can only cloud your judgment. I'm not an enemy to money: I've had none and I've had much, and much is preferable. [For the right price, he'll do a voiceover for any old ad] because that's not an artistic decision: you wanna pay me that much? You got it! But no amount of money is going to make a bad script better."
On the right and wrong kinds of sets to work on:
"One benefit of being an actor for a long time and hitting a higher measure of success at 40, with Malcolm in the Middle, and 50 with Breaking Bad, is that I know what kind of set I don't want to work on. You want to be in an environment where everyone's respected – where the drama's in the show, not around the show. I've worked on sets that are angry, nervous, uncertain, and it just permeates everything.I had a policy on Breaking Bad: I wouldn't allow any bitching or complaining. And if you're going to say it's not allowed, you have to not do it yourself."
On his first brush with acting -- which involved a scene where he kissed a beautiful woman:
"I asked [my acting] teacher [of the scene I was about to do with a female classmate]: 'Should we kiss, or just pretend?' He was disgusted by my question. So I thought, OK, I hope she's not offended, but I'm really gonna kiss her. And it starts – and before I can even begin, she is on me. Open mouth, tongue, hands everywhere. It's very exciting. [I then asked my acting partner], 'Would you like to get lunch sometime?' And she looked at me like I was a lost little puppy: 'Oh, no, no, I have a boyfriend.' And I thought: Oh, my God, that was acting! My head was spinning. That's when it clicked. She was just doing her job. And I realized this could be my work: to kiss girls! So I said: 'So long, police work.'"