Whether you know Bryan Cranston from his role as the hilarious Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, his role as unassuming drug-kingpin and meth chemist Walter White in Breaking Bad, or his various movie roles, one thing is for certain — he’s more than earned the right to be choosy with his roles. And that’s exactly what he’s been doing. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, he talked about his new play, confronting his white privilege, and much more.
The interview itself is well worth the read, but there are some interesting snippets that shine a light on Bryan Cranston’s current perspective of the modern era and the way he’s choosing to work. According to Cranston, he was offered a gig directing a play at LA’s Geffen Playhouse. The play in question was going to be a take on the 1984 comedy The Foreigner. The play depicts an Englishman screwing up the plans of the Ku Klux Klan to convert a fishing lodge into a Klan meeting place. According to Cranston, it didn’t sit right with him to direct a comedy about the Ku Klux Klan when the KKK is still very real and pushing their hateful ideology out into the world, which Cranston obviously doesn’t find funny.
Bryan Cranston mentions this is the “white blindness” he’s learning he has and that he’s trying to be more attuned to those blind spots. Instead, he opted to take a role in a different play saying, “If you find a play that you need an old white guy to act in, then maybe I can be available for that.”
Bryan Cranston’s upcoming play that he will be starring in is called Power of Sail, and it’s plenty relevant to the modern conversation as well. In the play, he’ll be taking on the role of a Harvard professor named Charles Nichols. The play tells the story of Nichols facing backlash after he invites a White supremacist and a Holocaust denier to speak at an annual symposium. Students protest against this, but Nichols justifies his decision by saying that his intention is to debate the guest and embarrass them intellectually. The play wrestles with the themes of free speech and the level of tolerance people should have for destructive ideas to be considered free speech. It asks if free speech should be limited or not, and why. It’s a question that is especially prevalent in recent years, and one that will surely be interesting to see both sides of in Cranston’s play.
If you’re interested in checking out Power of Sail, the show will be performed at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles from now through March 20. The play was written by Paul Grellong and directed by Weyni Mengesha. In addition to Bryan Cranston, the play also features Hugo Armstrong, Amy Brenneman, Donna Simone Johnson, Tedra Millan, Seth Numrich, and Brandon Scott. Guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks to attend. You can also see Cranston on the small screen in Season 2 of Your Honor in 2022 and in the upcoming Wes Anderson movie Asteroid City, also set to be out in 2022.