A Life in Parts|Cranston, Bryan
A Life in Parts
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A poignant, intimate, funny, inspiring memoir both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft from Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history s most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.
Bryan 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.


  • ISBN-13: 9781476793856
  • ISBN-10: 1476793859
  • Publisher: Book Depot
  • Publish Date: August 2017

Bryan Cranston on acting and living a full life

Although his father was a small-time actor (with outsize dreams), Bryan Cranston didn’t pledge himself to Thespis until he was stranded for six rainy days and nights in a picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway with only an anthology of plays for entertainment. He was 21 at the time and had already done a smattering of amateur theater. But until this soggy epiphany broadsided him, his focus had been on a career in law enforcement.

It would be another six years of small roles and TV commercials before Cranston found steady work, acting on the ABC soap opera “Loving.” There followed such memorable mileposts as six appearances on “Seinfeld” as self-aggrandizing dentist Tim Whatley, seven seasons as the goofy dad, Hal Wilkerson, on “Malcolm in the Middle” and, most triumphantly, five seasons on “Breaking Bad” as Walter White, the emotionally defeated high school chemistry teacher turned psychopathic drug lord.

Cranston’s memoir, A Life in Parts, is an engrossing blend of stories and tricks of the acting trade. He learns to slaughter chickens, becomes a mail-order minister, motorcycles from coast to coast with his brother, barely survives a crazy girlfriend and proposes marriage in a bubble bath. And that’s just a sampling. 

He advises aspiring actors to stay busy and go the extra mile to secure and inhabit a role, noting that he took rock-climbing lessons to score a candy commercial and clothed himself in live bees for an episode of “Malcolm.” He also explains how he adopted a mindset that turns even unsuccessful auditions into personal victories and presents a numerical scale by which to judge whether or not a part is worth taking. More subtle tips abound.

While there may have been bees on Cranston, there are assuredly no flies. “I never want to limit myself,” he writes. “I want to experience everything. When I die, I want to be exhausted.”


This article was originally published in the November 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.