Actor Bryan Cranston finally made his triumphant return as Breaking Bad’s Walter White last week. In honor of the critically acclaimed show’s fourth season, let’s take a look at five things you may not know about its Emmy-winning leading man.
1. He’s Got Experience as a Carny
Cranston earned a two-year degree in police science, but he didn’t go into a law enforcement job after graduation. Instead, he took a decidedly different tack: he and his brother took to the road on their motorcycles. As Cranston told IGN in 2003, the pair traveled the country and camped out in their sleeping bags.
The trip was a great idea until they ran out of money in Texas. The brothers started picking up odd jobs, including gigs operating game booths for carnivals. “We never stayed long enough to work up to, like, a ride operator – because you'd make more money – because we'd want to move on,” Cranston told IGN.
2. He’s (Sort of) a Power Ranger
Fans of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series may remember that the Blue Ranger’s true identity was named Billy Cranston. That surname isn’t just a coincidence. In 2008 Bryan Cranston explained to IGN that early in his career, he picked up extra money dubbing voiceovers for foreign shows and films. One of his steady gigs was at Saban Entertainment, the production company behind MMPR. When production started on the show, the company stuck their longtime freelancer’s last name on the Blue Ranger. As Cranston joked in the same IGN interview, “He’s the fey one. That’s the problem.”
3. He Did a Lot of Commercials
In Cranston’s early days as an actor, he wasn’t just dubbing voices. He was also doing commercials. Lots and lots of them. Including one where he wore a skunk costume and took a shower. See if you can find a glimmer of his Emmy-winning acting chops in any of these:
4. He’s a Creative Gifter...
In the late 90s, Cranston was hard pressed to find an inventive gift for his wife’s birthday. Instead of going the jewelry route, Cranston wrote a screenplay and offered it to her as a gift. His wife, Robin, really enjoyed the screenplay and asked Cranston when they were going to make the movie.
On his personal website, Cranston writes that he hadn’t really considered turning the screenplay into an actual film, but when his wife brought up the idea he agreed with her. Cranston ended up being the writer, director, and producer of 1999’s Last Chance in addition to acting in the film.
5. …But Playing Dr. Tim Whatley Wasn’t a Huge Stretch
Hardcore Seinfeld fans may respect Cranston’s later work, but it’s a little tough to forget his brilliantly smarmy performance as the re-gifting dentist Tim Whatley. According to Cranston, the re-gifting part felt natural. When a fan submitted a question about re-gifting to Cranston’s personal website, the actor replied, “Being of frugal Scotch-Irish descent, I'm proud to say that I re-gift all the time.”