The strife of Bryan

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - DAR­REN DEV­LYN Break­ing Bad, ABC2, Mon­day, 9.30pm

HE was hap­less dad Hal in sit­com Mal­colm in the Mid­dle, but never re­ceived the kudos he was due. Then he stum­bled into a role on Thank God You’re Here, the short-lived US ver­sion of Aus­tralia’s rat­ings hit.

For Bryan Cranston, the defin­ing mo­ment of his ca­reer has come in the form of Break­ing Bad. The edgy drama has earnt him two best ac­tor Emmy Awards and is re­garded by some as one of the great­est TV se­ries of all time.

The show of­fers a grip­ping ob­ser­va­tion of how far a fa­ther fac­ing ill-health and fi­nan­cial ruin is pre­pared to go to cre­ate se­cu­rity for his fam­ily.

Cranston is renowned for his straight-faced de­meanour, an ac­tor who of­ten ap­pears as if he’s build­ing a rocket ship in his head.

This quiet, concealed ex­as­per­a­tion is used to max­i­mum ef­fect for Break­ing Bad, in which his char­ac­ter, Wal­ter White, went from be­ing a suc­cess­ful re­search chemist to teach­ing ap­a­thetic high school stu­dents in New Mex­ico and work­ing a week­end job at a car wash.

Wal­ter dis­cov­ered his wife was preg­nant ( they al­ready had a son with cere­bral palsy) and that he was ter­mi­nally ill. Des­per­ate to keep his cat­a­strophic news to him­self, Wal­ter came up with a plan to en­sure his fam­ily would not be left up the creek with­out a pad­dle once he died. He be­came a drug cook.

Wal­ter has since lurched from one po­ten­tially fa­tal sit­u­a­tion to the next. The deeper he sinks into the mire of the crim­i­nal world, the more im­pos­si­ble it seems he can re­turn to the straight and nar­row.

‘‘ I think ev­ery­one wants to find that ca­reer they love and I found it at 22 – I wanted to be a work­ing ac­tor,’’ 55-year-old Cranston says.

‘‘ But af­ter Mal­colm in the Mid­dle I got two of­fers to do TV pi­lots and both roles were de­scribed as goofy, fun-lov­ing dads and I thought, ‘ That’s it, huh, that’s all that is out there for me?’. So I po­litely turned them down.

‘‘ I just never imag­ined I would ever get to play a char­ac­ter like Walt, the po­lar op­po­site to Hal.’’

So hot has Cranston be­come, that he has filmed 15 movie roles, in­clud­ing World War Z with Brad Pitt, since Break­ing Bad launched in 2008.

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