In his book ‘A life in parts’ Bryan Cranston goes through his trials and tribulations of becoming an actor and shares with us some golden nuggets of what he’s learnt from his journey of being an actor.
Bryan worked at various jobs to make ends meet while pursuing his acting career and he believes if he hadn’t been absolutely determined to be an actor, he wouldn’t have made it through. He kept saying to himself: One day I will be able to call myself and actor. Not a part-time actor, but a real actor. One day. One day. One day.
He would fantasise ‘There I am driving onto a studio lot; there’s me breaking down the beats of a scene on stage.’
Most of the guys he worked with hated their jobs and it was so easy to be sucked into that despair. But he wouldn’t allow that to come inside. It wasn’t welcome. He wasn’t going to let them clutter his brain. He had something real to hold on to.
For Bryan the whole business of acting is a confidence game. If you believe it, they’ll believe it. If you don’t believe it, neither will they.
Actors will not get hired, not because they are untalented, but because they haven’t yet come to the place where they trust themselves, so how can a director trust they’ll be able to do the job with a sense of ease? Confidence is king.
To keep in mind of the casting agents Bryan would send post cards and alert them of his up coming roles, even if they were minor ones. ‘Watch Bryan Cranston in Matlock this week! Don’t miss Bryan Cranston’s guest turn as Tom Logan in Baywatch! Tune in to Amazon Women on the Moon for a special treat’
He knew 99 percent wouldn’t watch but they would see his name. They would see his face. And they would get the message, even if only on a subliminal level. This guy works a lot.
Early in his career Bryan was always hustling, doing commercials, guest starring, auditioning like crazy and was making a decent living but at one point he felt he was stuck and wondered whether he’d plateaued.
He took a private course with a self help guy who suggested that he focus on process rather than outcome. He wasn’t going to the audition to get anything: a job or money or validation. He wasn’t going to compete with the other guys.
He was going to give something.
He wasn’t there to get a job. He was there to do a job. Simple as that. He was there to give a performance. If he attached to the outcome, he was setting himself up to expect, and thus to fail.
His job was to focus on character. His job was to be interesting. His job was to be compelling. Take some chances. Serve the text. Enjoy the process.
There wasn’t going to be predicting or manipulating, no thinking of the outcome. Outcome was irrelevant. He couldn’t afford any longer to approach his work as a means to an end.
Once he made the switch, he was no longer a supplicant. He had power in any room he walked into. Which meant he could relax. He was free.
And that’s exactly what happened when he went up for the role of Breaking Bad…