Actor Bryan Cranton’s roles on the big and small screen are as varied as they are plentiful. With more than forty years in the entertainment world, it may feel like there aren’t any characters left uninhabited by Cranston, yet the actor seems to only just be getting started.
With a chameleon-like adaptability that is reminiscent of the great Meryl Streep, Cranston darts back and forth between TV and film, giving both mediums performances worthy of Oscars. Often unrecognizable in his roles, Cranston’s calling card has become his innate ability to tap into the emotional depth of his characters and bring them to life.
Here are, in our opinion, Bryan Cranston’s eight best roles on the big and small screen.
ALL THE WAY
Role: Lyndon B. Johnson
Cranston is almost unrecognizable in his role as US President Lyndon B. Johnson in HBO’s All The Way (available on CraveTV starting May 26). Embodying the famous president, Cranston gives an award-worthy performance of a man who had the seemingly impossible task of inheriting not only a nation in the midst of grief, but one in the middle of a war in Vietnam and a civil rights war at home. Cranston took on LBJ’s demeanor and speech for the intense films, which shows the incredible range of the celebrated actor.
Role: Walter White
Released: Seasons 1 – 5 aired from 2008 until 2013
While Bryan Cranston is enjoying a career that includes a number of memorable characters, it’s his role as Walter White that will forever cement the actors’ place in TV history. As the cancer-stricken science teacher who turns to making meth to support his family, Cranston’s transition from mild-mannered family man to drug cartel leader Heisenberg is a Masterclass in character development. With each move, decision and sentence, the audience is constantly in turmoil over whether to love or to loathe Mr. White.
Role: Robert Mazur
In 2016’s The Infiltrator, Bryan Cranston played real life Customs Official Robert Mazur who went undercover to help take down some of the biggest drug cartels of the 1980s, including targeting the elusive Pablo Escobar. For the role, Cranston had to pull double duty on-screen, playing a family man who was undercover as a money laundering millionaire.
Role: Dalton Trumbo
In Trumbo, Cranston takes on the intimidating task of portraying real-life screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a man who fought for Communism and was blacklisted from Hollywood as a result of his political beliefs. The role earned Cranston an Academy Award nomination, an ironic and almost full-circle occurrence, considering the real Trumbo’s rocky relationship with the film industry.
Role: Dr. Tim Whatley
Released: 1994 – 1997
As one of the greatest TV comedies of all time, standing out in a sea of memorable guest stars on Seinfeld (Watch it on CraveTV) is an impressive feat, and one that Cranston accomplished as dentist Tim Whatley. Appearing in only five episodes, Cranston’s Whatley brought the re-gifter, yada yada, and the anti-dentite.
Role: Jack O’Donnell
His role as CIA supervisor Jack O’Donnell, a fictional character portrayed in the Oscar winning film Argo, displays Cranston’s true calling as a powerhouse actor. No wigs, no mustaches and no meth? No problem. Cranston can still inspire and terrorize simply by his delivery.
It may have seemed odd, upon first announcement, that Emmy-winning actor Bryan Cranston would be appearing in the new Power Rangers movie, but fans might remember that Cranston voiced a couple of monsters in the original series. So yeah, Cranston can really do anything and make it cool.
MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE
Released: Seasons 1 – 7 aired from 2000 – 2006
When AMC’s Breaking Bad premiered in 2008, most viewers were skeptical that the dad from Malcolm in the Middle could be a believable as a meth dealer. A high school science teacher? No problem. But looking back on his time as Hal, Cranston was already playing with yo-yo’ing pace of subdued to frenzied outbursts that we know now as Walter White. Heisenberg was there all along.