Bryan Cranston

Active - 1987 - 2020  |   Born - Mar 7, 1956 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Science Fiction, Mystery, Science & Technology

Share on

Biography by Jason Buchanan

A familiar face to a nation of television viewers thanks to his role as the more-than-slightly demented father on the popular FOX sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, longtime stage and screen actor Bryan Cranston has had a rich and varied career, lending his talents to everything from anime voice work (Armitage III and Macross Plus) to daytime television (as an original cast member of Loving). His commanding but off-kilter presence and quirky charm have easily provided Cranston with the necessary range to essay such diverse roles, and the longtime actor can always be counted on to inject a healthy dose of personality into his performances, no matter how large or small the role may be.

Though the San Fernando Valley native made his television debut as a commercial actor at the age of eight, it wasn't until college that Cranston truly realized his calling as an actor. Following college graduation, Cranston's passion eventually drew him to Daytona Beach, FL, where the burgeoning actor appeared in such community-theater productions as Barefoot in the Park and Death of a Salesman. In 1982, he joined the cast of the then-new soap opera Loving, and though he would only remain with the daytime drama for a short time, appearances in Airwolf and Hill Street Blues, among various other series, found the actor maintaining a notable presence on television. Following a series of supporting feature performances, Cranston moved back to the small screen with a regular role in the 1988 sitcom Raising Miranda. In the years that followed, he would frequently shift between film (Clean Slate) and television (The Louie Show) while supplementing his income with voice-over work for such popular anime series as Armitage III.

Supporting performances in such high-profile features as That Thing You Do! and Saving Private Ryan helped to increase the busy actor's recognition factor, and in 1999, Cranston wrote, produced, directed, and starred in his first feature film, a low-key drama entitled Last Chance. Though the film failed to gain much attention, Cranston was soon receiving numerous positive notices for his Emmy-nominated role as the hapless father in the breakout television hit Malcolm in the Middle. His performance alternately eccentric and endearing, Cranston injected the role with the perfect balance of fatherly weirdness and down-to-earth charm, and the series embarked on a healthy run. In the years that followed, Cranston became an increasingly familiar face to television and film viewers, and in addition to offering vocal work for the short-lived animated television series Clerks, he would contribute to such family-friendly fare as 'Twas the Night and The Santa Claus Brothers. After taking the lead in the 2003 made-for-television feature Thanksgiving Family Reunion, Cranston could be spotted opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the 2004 drama The Illusion. He appeared in the 2006 miniseries Fallen, and had a bit part in the Oscar nominated Little Miss Sunshine.

However, in 2008 his career entered a whole new phase when he began work on the AMC series Breaking Bad, playing a chemistry teacher who becomes a meth dealer. His work on the critically lauded program would earn him four Emmys for Best Actor in a Drama Series (plus another two as a producer on the series). It also made him an in-demand character actor for movies and he worked steadily appearing in projects as radically different as Drive, Larry Crowne, Red Tails, John Carter, and Rock of Ages among many others.

In 2014, Cranston made his Broadway debut in the play All The Way, playing President Lyndon Baines Johnson. The role earned him a Tony Award, and he committed to reprising the role for a TV movie. The following year, he played blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in the film Trumbo (2015), nabbing Cranston his first Academy Award nomination.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Made his acting debut in a United Way commercial at age 8.
  • After college, traveled across the country on motorcycle with his brother Kyle, altering his career plan from police work to acting during the extended trip.
  • Met his second wife, Robin Dearden, during the filming of an Airwolf episode in which he played a villain and she his hostage.
  • Won Best of the Fest Award (drama) at 1999 Breckenridge Festival for Last Chance, which he wrote and directed as a gift to his wife. Additional accolades for the film included the Audience Award at 2000 Valleyfest Film Festival.
  • Contributes to the National and International Centers for Missing & Exploited Children, hosting the organization's Hope Awards in 2005 and producing the instructional DVD KidSmartz, which promotes safety from Internet predators.
  • Coproduced and starred in the Web comedy series The Handlers, which launched in January 2011 on
  • Made his Broadway debut in All The Way in 2014, playing Lyndon Baines Johnson; later reprised the role in an HBO TV movie.