The New York Film Academy enjoyed a special evening with Bryan Cranston, the star of Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle and, more recently, the movie Trumbo, a historical film about one of the most successful screenwriters of the 1950’s-70’s, Dalton Trumbo, who endured more than a decade of hardship (blacklisting and prison) for standing up to the American anti-communist movement that tried unsuccessfully to force him to name communist party members within the film industry.
The capacity crowd filled the 550-seat Ross Theater on the grounds of Warner Bros. Studios to watch the movie Trumbo, and afterward to listen to the life lessons of the veteran actor, hoping to gain some unique insight into the craft and its impact on their own lives and careers. Bryan did not disappoint.
Following the screening, Bryan Cranston entered the theater to a standing ovation, and was accompanied by producer Tova Laiter, who moderated the event. Cranston spoke of the journey to becoming an actor, specifically the commitment and perseverance that one must have in order to succeed. He also talked about the arbitrary deadline that many of us set, saying, ‘I’ll give it two years.” He disagreed with that sentiment, saying that “You’re either in or you’re out.” Using the poker reference, he said, “It means you’re all in.” He added later in the address that “not trying is failing.”
Regarding obtaining work, Cranston spoke at length about shifting the paradigm when walking into an audition (or any meeting for that matter). We should be thinking about how we can offer our talent to that project, and not be thinking about getting the job.
He counseled the audience, composed of students from all disciplines, “Don’t put yourself in a position of need. You’re there to give them something.” The same goes with not getting the role — believe that something better is going to come your way and you are lucky you didn’t get the other job (as happened to him throughout his career).
Cranston responded to questions from audience members, some of whom asked about the character Walter White from Breaking Bad. He said that his ability to visualize the character came from the quality of the writing, which he called brilliant. He answered another student question by saying that an actor’s home life should be clean and strong so they can then go out and put the variety and excitement into the roles they choose. He counseled the young actors to “put in the hours,” and show up to jobs on time and prepared.
New York Film Academy thanks Bryan Cranston for taking the time to share his wisdom and inspire our students. It was truly an unforgettable night.