‘The misogyny that has been a bedrock of not just my industry has to stop’: An interview with Bryan Cranston at the Cambridge Union

The Breaking Bad star on tackling Hollywood’s ‘patriarchal power grid’

breaking bad Bryan Cranston harvey weinstein Hollywood Malcolm in the Middle sexism in Hollywood Walter White

Bryan Cranston does not have time for the rampant misogyny of the film industry – he wants, in short, a fresh start for Hollywood and show business.

That he confirms this during his Union talk as well as his interviews with The Tab multiple times with vigour and gusto, makes for an ultimately refreshing (and surprising) break from the multiple 'hot takes' made recently by various white, male Hollywood stars on the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

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Cranston does not shy away however from admitting he once considered the likes of Weinstein and Louis C.K. his friends. He takes the time to confirm he knew nothing of the multifarious instances of sexual misconduct of which both men have been accused. His perception of men and all others against whom damning allegations have been made has now changed – he sees clearly the "astonishing depths of depravity" which haunt Hollywood, politics, the business world, and academia. "The misogyny that has been a bedrock of not just my industry has to stop. It's fundamentally inhumane," he told The Tab.

Cranston also heartily rejected the various angles from which the campaign against sexual misconduct in Hollywood has been attacked. The too-often heard cries of "will I ever be allowed to ask a woman on a date again?", "what's next, we can't hold doors open for women without getting fired?", and the like were lambasted by Cranston. When retelling a tale in which he kissed a scene partner and consequently asked her out, he stressed that his response when she said "no" was a simple "got it" as, of course, it should be. "It's not about sex… it's about power and control", he concluded, contesting the dubious notion held by some that to challenge so-called 'harmless' flirtations is to attack romance itself.

Beyond this, Cranston also discussed the tremendous success of Breaking Bad, the television hit which launched his career to stratospheric levels. In dissecting its success, he pointed to excellent screenwriting (and a healthy dose of luck) as crucial. Timing, too, was everything – before Walter White, the anti-hero trope had yet to be satisfactorily depicted onscreen, and audiences were thus keen to see a character they really liked make some really questionable moral decisions.

Audiences today are lucky, he continued, confirming the widely-held belief that the last decade or so has constituted something of a golden age for television. In the 70s and 80s, the bar was low. Expectations are now sky-high, and well-written. Well-acted hits like Breaking Bad have played a huge role in this.

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Cranston as Walter White, the archetypal anti-hero

Cranston also teased at a potentially bright future for one of his less ambiguously loved characters: Hal, the dopey dad from Malcolm in the Middle. Cranston confirmed many of the original cast and crew are keen for a reunion of sorts, and it is definitely an idea which is "being floated around."

Great news for all those who want to see Cranston play a character much closer to his charming, real-life personality. Although, it has to be admitted that a highlight of his Union talk was undoubtedly his brief transformation into Walter White with a snarling "I am the one who knocks!"