'Breaking Bad' star Bryan Cranston on his Golden Globe nomination and upcoming 'SNL'-esque Web series
Image Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMCBryan Cranston was in bed when his Golden Globe nomination in the Best Actor category for Breaking Bad was announced yesterday, but who can blame him? Between his work on six feature films and his upcoming Saturday Night Live-meets-Curb Your Enthusiasm Web series on Atom.com, The Handlers, the actor hasn’t had much time for R&R since concluding season 3 of his critically lauded AMC drama (EW critic Ken Tucker’s pick for best show of 2010), which returns this summer.
In an interview with EW, Cranston talked about his nomination and the political satire show that he’s thrown his time and massive talent behind.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, congrats on your Best Actor Golden Globe nomination.
BRYAN CRANSTON: Thank you.
You feel good?
I’m thrilled on many different levels. First of all, you work hard, and you don’t know where it’s going to take you, and you keep your nose down. Then, someone taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hey, guess what?” It’s a great feeling to be able to get the cherry on top of a very sweet career that I enjoy doing. That being said, I don’t know any actor, really, who tries to work toward that. It has to be accepted as once in a while, if you’re very, very lucky, something like this comes along. And I’ve been blessed with an abundance of luck.
I was sad to not see the show on there.
I was, too, actually…. I want it to be recognized. We didn’t get it this year, and that’s not to say the other shows aren’t worthy. That’s the thing about this and why I take it with a grain of salt when if you don’t win an award, people say, “Oh, you were robbed!” because that implies that the person who won was not worthy of it. And that’s not the case. That’s just the way things go. There can be one winner. Was it your turn or wasn’t it your turn? No? Okay. At least you were thought of and in the conversation, which is really, really the important part of it. Isn’t it?
It’s wonderful to be able to say, “Hey, I was invited to the dance” — whether you end up dancing with the pretty girl or whatever.
So let’s talk about The Handlers. What else can you tell us about it?
It is based on a French concept called Henaut President. And it was very clever and funny, and I just so enjoyed seeing that whole thing take off. It was humorous and political, but it was French. So I talked to a friend of mine, Jamie Bruce, who is French, and I said, “I wonder if we could Americanize this.” I was working with Avalon television at the time, and we got them involved because I enjoy working with them. And we pitched it to [atom.com], and they took it. [Starting Jan. 4, new 2.5- to 4-minute episodes of the series will debut on the site every Tuesday for 8 weeks.]
And aside from acting as producer (and occasional writer), you’re also in it.
It is really less about my character, who is the candidate in a not-mentioned small state senator spot, and it’s more about the handlers, the campaign managers who are in charge of any given candidate at any time. It’s one of those things where we think we know that world because we see them talking on CNN or Fox, but we really don’t. These are large, large consulting firms that have teams of campaign managers who are dispatched to the rest of the country to go run this campaign, run that campaign, take these two people and run this one. Getting someone elected is the win-win; it’s the feather in your cap. Our handlers, unfortunately, are probably on the D team. [Laughs] For some reason they just haven’t gone up the corporate ladder within their firm. They’re struggling, and when you see it — their thought process — it’s justified. They shouldn’t be in the top position. It’s fun to incorporate humor with the politics. The Handlers is really part of the political spectrum, but it’s not partisan. We joke about both sides of the fence. It’s about the art of the campaign itself.
It’s only eight short episodes right now, correct?
If it gets a response and Atom wants us to continue or we want to continue, we might go through another round. I think the format we’d like to do is to invite celebrity friends who want to come in and goof around for a couple days. And really, that’s all it takes — two days. We would write for their strengths. Some episodes are written like a sketch on Saturday Night Live. It’s written on a Monday, rehearsed on a Tuesday/Wednesday, and shot on Thursday. And then some sketches we’ll do like Curb Your Enthusiasms, where there will be an idea, a concept, and then you improv it. It’s kind of a nice hybrid of both.
So were you inspired at all by your SNL gig?
Well, we started working on this a couple of years ago, but I got busy on Breaking Bad and a few other projects, and I couldn’t be involved. But they wanted me involved. We thought, well, “When the time is right.” And we thought we missed our opportunity because of the 2008 presidential election. But recently, about three or four months ago, we thought, “Well, that’s not true.’ Politics are always on people’s mind. We’re constantly listening and talking and discussing and arguing politics. It will always be here. So it’s not something that has an expiration date. It’s a lot of fun. It’s smart and funny.
Earlier this year, Lisa Kudrow’s Web Therapy got bought by Showtime, and they’re going to air some episodes in 2011. Are there plans for this show to go from online to network? Would it lend itself you that, you think?
I suppose. Honestly… this isn’t why we’re doing it. This isn’t so we can hope we can take it to a half hour comedy. But — like getting a nomination [yesterday] — if someone taps us on the shoulder, we’d turn around and listen.
Walter White descends into the criminal underworld.