Bryan Cranston Talks the Art of Storytelling With Vince Gilligan – American Film Institute


Bryan Cranston Talks the Art of Storytelling With Vince Gilligan

On December 4, AFI gathered members of the Premiere Circle — AFI’s patron-level member group — and other major supporters for an intimate conversation on the art of storytelling.

The latest installment of AFI’s annual An Evening With… artist series — offered exclusively to the Premiere Circle — showcased Emmy®-winning actor Bryan Cranston and director/writer/producer Vince Gilligan. The two longtime collaborators discussed Cranston’s wide and varied career, including their groundbreaking work together on the multiple AFI AWARD honoree BREAKING BAD.

“I’m sitting next to one of the best actors who ever lived,” Gilligan said of Cranston, who echoed his creative partner’s sentiment. “I know one genius, and he is sitting next to me. But the rest of us have to work very hard… You are giving your life to storytelling.”

Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston

With credits ranging from television series MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE and BREAKING BAD to an Oscar®-nominated performance in the 2015 film TRUMBO and a starring role in this year’s LAST FLAG FLYING, Cranston said he “fell in love with the empowerment of acting. It makes me feel powerful to make someone gasp or laugh or cry. I’m addicted to it.”

Cranston is no doubt best known for playing the complex antihero Walter White on Gilligan’s BREAKING BAD. As to whether he liked this dark character who captivated and terrified us all across six seasons, Cranston said, “He is inside me, and we are looking out through the same eyes. It’s dangerous to sit in judgement of your own character.”

Bryan Cranston with event guest Robert Starkman and AFI Premiere Circle members Alfred Somekh and Liz Merage
Guests received a signed copy of Cranston's book "A Life in Parts"
Guests received a signed copy of Cranston’s book “A Life in Parts”

Finally, Cranston, remarking on a life of work in Hollywood, said, “It’s not work to me; it’s a dream. I daydream about characters.”

Cranston will next be seen in Wes Anderson’s film ISLE OF DOGS, and is an executive producer on the upcoming Amazon series THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS. Cranston joined the ranks of other artists featured in AFI’s ongoing An Evening With… series, including, in recent years, Steven Soderbergh, Patty Jenkins, Eva Marie Saint, William Friedkin, Ben Kingsley and Jay Roach.

Interested in attending the next conversation? Learn more about supporting AFI and explore other benefits of the Premiere Circle here.

Comments (1)


Once more, the word art is bandied about as if there’s one universal meaning of it. Pompously ignorant people feel good about using the word art because they know 99% (at least) of their listeners are retards about most things, anyway. It’s a rare movie that ‘tells’ its story intelligently. So rare, that most of the time it is useless referring to ‘the story line.’

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