He had a way of making you feel like you'd known him forever, a man with a deep, rumbling voice and a demeanour that was reminiscent of the "cool dad" that you'd always secretly wanted. Throw in a mischievous twinkle in his eye (that would sometimes show itself in the form of a fully fledged two-minute skit about how he first got into acting) and you have yourself a very interesting man. Add 37 years of experience in the industry with roles in family comedy and one of the most successful AMC shows, and you have Bryan Cranston. This man had our entire theatre in stitches within the first five minutes of stepping onstage, somehow managing to ease the nerves (wasn't he supposed to be the nervous one?) of everyone in the room from his role onstage as the interviewee in a theatre of hundreds .
He talked about his journey into acting, beginning by majoring in police investigation and his first acting scene in college which involved a heavy makeout session, to not knowing how much he actually earns, "I don't know, I just talk with my agents and ask: 'How are we doing?' If it's good, I sign." (Having lived as a broke actor, he appreciates and understands the value of having money) but says that money is no motivation in this business, and if it is, you're in this for the wrong reasons. He covered his story of winning over Vince Gilligan for the role of Walter White by describing in detail how he thought the character looked, doing a wonderful impression of the kind Virgina writer (who's also coming to speak next week!) who is deceivingly nice for how gritty the script is for the show. He taught us how Actors Arrogance (giving something in an audition rather than desperately needing) changed his whole acting career.
He took question after question, answering with eloquence and an entertaining flair that had the audience applauding and cheering (on more than one occasion). Some of the answers were more surprising: “It’s actually kind of hard to take compliments.” To which the audience groaned. Seriously? This guy is complaining about people telling him he’s great? He responded to our collective sigh with this: “Imagine someone telling you: ‘I like your sweatshirt!’ Now, imagine someone says that to you ten times in an hour.” The man does have a point. And some answers were things we expected: “Acting is hard.” But they always came with a grain of wisdom. “You can make your own luck.”
It was an hour of having the cool dad tell us all the things we wanted and needed to hear about this crazy, lucrative business that we want to pursue against all common sense. He told us how to protect ourselves in an industry that could tear you apart, but also encouraged us to do whatever it takes to make “the dream” happen. We were so lucky to be able to tap into a well of knowledge that gave us the creative refresher we needed to get going, get moving, and get inspired.
And when it was time, he left us with two words, which coming from him, meant everything.