Bryan Cranston talks to Worlds Best Rehab
Bryan Cranston talks to Worlds Best Rehab Magazine
Byran Cranston rose to fame playing Walter White in the hit television series Breaking Bad. As a science teacher turned meth cook and murderer, Cranston become a Hollywood star as millions watched his character’s every adventure. Although Breaking Bad was Cranston biggest role, the actor had carved out a niche as a popular television perform thanks to his part on Malcom in the Middle.
While Cranston, now 64-years-old, has enjoyed a successful career as an actor, his upbringing was marked by chaos. His parents were alcoholics and at one point, abandoned the future Breaking Bad star. The middle child of three, Cranston grew up watching his father, an actor, struggle to make a career on the silver screen, which resulted in his departure from the family.
According to Cranston, his father, Joe, consistently failed and lacked any business acumen to become a success. Joe’s alcoholism and failure combined for outbursts that engulfed the family. His anger was explosive and on more than one occasion, Joe punched out complete strangers on the street. As a boy, Cranston saw his parents as destructive and it helped shape his adult life.
Lucy Jane: Bryan, can you tell us about your parents and the role alcohol had on the family?
Bryan Cranston: My mother was your typical “1950s wife”. She was all about her husband and his goals. My father’s ambition was to become a movie star and my mother tried to help him achieve that dream throughout their marriage. Unfortunately, each of my father’s attempts to make it in Hollywood failed. Over time, with each successive failure, dad become less active in the family. When I was 11, my dad left for good. The impact on my mother was huge. Without my father around, she turned to alcohol to comfort herself. Rather than comfort her children, she began drinking and later lost our house. What made things difficult was that until I was 11-years-old, we were like a normal family. We did everything together and then, suddenly, it all ended.
LJ: What effect did alcohol have on your mother?
Bryan Cranston: It made her completely absent. Every sorrow was drowned in drink. I watched my mom go from a living, breathing woman and into a ghost of herself. She never explained why my father left and perhaps she didn’t know, which fueled her drinking.
LJ: Your 2016 memoir details your mother’s attempt to win your father back. What happened during that time?
BC: Mom took my sister, Amy, and moved in with dad’s mother. My brother, Kyle, and I were sent to live with our maternal grandparents. It wasn’t a great experience. We moved to their farm and had to work every day.
LJ: Seeing your mother drink alcohol to numb the pain she experienced, did it turn you off of drugs and alcohol?
Bryan Cranston: I’ve never been shy about my mother’s alcohol issues. To be honest, it created a lot of anger in me and my siblings. We have worked through the issues in therapy to come to terms with it. As I wrote in my book, I’ve never been into taking drugs. I drink alcohol on occasions. I don’t let it get out of hand as I’ve seen its effects on people – especially ones I love.
LJ: How many years did you go before you saw your father again?
BC: Well, it was strange. He became increasingly more absent and one day, poof, he was gone for good. My dad left when I was 11-years-old and I didn’t see him for 11 years. It wasn’t like dad up and left one day… like he didn’t come back from the grocery store. It was a gradual thing, like an animal being weaned by their mother.
LJ: Your mother struggled with alcoholism when your father left. Did he also suffer from alcoholism?
BC: He may have had issues with drink and drug abuse. He wasn’t home and we weren’t around him, so I can only speculate about his issues. He carried a burden with him – the burden of never making it as an actor. I used some of that when portraying Walter White in Breaking Bad.
LJ: In your book, you wrote about a girlfriend by the name of Ava. It was a very intense relationship and one that ended in her death.
Bryan Cranston: Yes, that is true. When we were together, I experienced insane highs from the sex and being together. Little did I know, Ava was rather unstable and addicted to drugs. When I attempted to break things off with her, she took her own life, overdosing on drugs.
LJ: Both of your parents have now passed away. What was your relationship like with them before they died?
BC: Mom died in 2004 of Alzheimer’s, so she was unfortunately unable to see me in what was my most successful television series. Our relationship changed late in her life. The fight was gone and I resented her less than before. I won’t lie, although both of my parents are gone, I still feel a lot of pain when dealing with the feelings of abandonment. The worse part was that they were physically around, somewhere, when I was young. It wasn’t as if they were dead. So, that is part of the issue I have had to work through.
LJ: Was there regret from either parent?
Bryan Cranston: I know there was regret from dad. He expressed that in interviews with the media. He knew by the end of his life that things were messed up. At the age of 22, I went in search of him. Once I found him, there was a lot of remorse and forgiveness on all sides. Dad died at the age of 90 and just before he did, he wrote a note saying his biggest life highlight was when my siblings and I forgave him. That was really powerful.
In October 2016, Cranston’s autobiography, Life in Parts, was published Orion. The book documents Cranston’s childhood and life in showbusiness. Life in Parts was critically well received for shining a light on the actor’s life without pulling any punches.
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