Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Book ~ "A Life in Parts" (2016) Bryan Cranston

From GoodreadsBryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father cast him in a United Way commercial. Acting was clearly the boy’s destiny, until one day his father disappeared. Destiny suddenly took a backseat to survival.

Now, in his riveting memoir, Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he’s played in real life - paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father. Cranston also chronicles his evolution on camera, from soap opera player trying to master the rules of show business to legendary character actor turning in classic performances as "Seinfeld" dentist Tim Whatley, “a sadist with newer magazines,” and "Malcolm in the Middle" dad Hal Wilkerson, a lovable bumbler in tighty-whities. He also gives an inspiring account of how he prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenging role of President Lyndon Johnson, a tour de force that won him a Tony to go along with his four Emmys.

Of course, Cranston dives deep into the grittiest details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most memorable performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

Discussing his life as few men do, describing his art as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. But ultimately "A Life in Parts" is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work. 

I like reading bios/autobios and thought this one would be interesting.  Bryan Cranston is an American actor, voice actor, producer, director and screenwriter, best known for his roles as Walter White in "Breaking Bad", Hal in "Malcolm in the Middle" and Dr. Tim Whatley in "Seinfeld".  I've never watched "Malcolm in the Middle" or "Breaking Bad" but know the shows.  To me, Cranston is Dr. Whatley in "Seinfield".  He seems like a nice guy and so I thought I'd check his book out.

This is Cranston's story starting with his childhood.  His father was an aspiring actor who left the family when Cranston was young to start a life with a new wife (father and son were estranged for many years).  His mother wasn't overly stable and had a number of husbands.  He married twice ... he has been with his second wife for about thirty years and they have a daughter.  Given his childhood, he was determined that his life with his wife and daughter would be different.

Cranston had a variety of jobs including selling newspapers (well, stealing them to sell them), a security guard, a minister (marrying people at age 19!), a camera operator/interviewer with a dating service and more ... it was funny to hear some of his stories.  He started getting bit parts in shows and commercials before landing a part in a soap opera. 

It was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at being an actor.  Cranston's not shy about expressing his opinions on how his characters should be and has a good work ethic.  He doesn't believe actors should be on auto pilot and isn't afraid to walk away from parts if he feels they aren't right for him.

I enjoyed this book and liked the writing style.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

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