Bryan Cranston might be Hollywood’s coolest old guy. We sat down for a lovely chat...
Hi Bryan. We watched your new film, The Infiltrator, and really enjoyed it. You’re back on drugs!
I am! I’m back, baby.
You play an ordinary family man who infiltrates a cartel. After Breaking Bad, what drew you to that world again?
There were several things. Certainly the overall plot – it’s based on a true story; it ended in about 85 arrests and nearly as many convictions. This whole operation was really interesting, the idea of this man playing such a dangerous role, and then clocking out and coming home and being ‘dad’. I thought, “Oh my God, how could he make that transition without becoming a nervous wreck?”
It looks like it was an intense film to make.
Exhausting. Your emotions don’t know the difference between what is real and what isn’t, fake anxiety and real anxiety. It’s still anxiety, so your brain, after those emotional scenes, acts like it really happened. It was a difficult film to shoot. I was very physically active, there was a lot of fighting, yelling, lots of confrontation. Your brain is fried, your body is shot. Every night filming I’d be thinking, “I can’t wait to take a hot shower and get home.” I’d go to bed hoping I’d sleep in, get some rest. But I’d always wake up early.
Do you think you’ll do something more relaxing next time?
I’m not good at taking time off. I have a working-class approach to my life. I have a lot of opportunities, and I want to take advantage of those while they’re presented to me. There’ll be plenty of time to go to Hawaii. Clearly anybody would love to take my place.
To fit in with the cartels, your character smokes a lot of cigars. Did you get a taste for them?
Oh no, I’m not a cigar-smoker at all. I just don’t get cigars. There’s something about cigar-smokers, some ‘bravado’. Even the cigar itself – have you seen how big some are? Very phallic, in my opinion.
The film’s set in Florida but filmed in London. Did you like being over here?
I probably couldn’t say ‘no’ at this point, could I?
Not really, no.
Well yes, for the record I do love England. I got an apartm… sorry, a flat, in Primrose Hill, I enjoy it over here so much. Being able to blow off some steam, walk around, hang out in the pubs. It’s very peaceful, a very calm environment.
But you played one of the most iconic TV characters of all time. Don’t people recognise you?
Not as often as you’d think. I get the Breaking Bad fans, “Hey Heisenberg! What’s up Walter!” [laughs] Oh yeah, I get it. Then there are the people I see wearing Heisenberg T-shirts, or the [Breaking Bad chicken shop] Los Pollos Hermanos shirts. If I ever see anyone in that kind of merch, I try to quietly get close to them, really sneaky, and whisper, “Hey, I like your T-shirt.” Just to see how they react.
How do people react?
Well I say it, then I walk off, look back at them and get a glance. Then I put my finger on my lips and go, “Shhhh”, like ‘keep it a secret’. People always freak out when I do it, and then I run off, just to have some fun. It’s nice.
Do you have any advice you could impart to our readers?
I say this to young actors, but it’s applicable to anyone. My profession often attracts people who are looking for themselves on screen. They’re looking to be rich, famous or to have a certain ‘lifestyle’. They think that’s what this game is. It’s not. I try to tell them please don’t pretend. You’re going in for the wrong reasons.
How is it going on the Power Rangers reboot? You’re playing Zordon, the giant head…
I’m very excited about playing him. The thing is, I didn’t want to be in Power Rangers at first. The show was campy, and when I heard about the reboot I thought, “Now hold on, I don’t wanna do that.” But then I talked to the guy behind it, and [he] goes, “You know how the Batman TV series was campy? But then the Batman movie was reimagined as something darker? That’s what we’re doing here.”
How do you get into character to play a massive head?
Well, he’s a man, ultimately, so it wasn’t hard to tap into him. I have quite a large head, too, I suppose. Maybe that helped.
The Infiltrator is at cinemas nationwide now