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A MetFilm School Masterclass with… Bryan Cranston

By Danny Kelly

23 February 2018

We were honoured to welcome the one and only Bryan Cranston to the School on Monday 5th Feb 2018, for a very special Masterclass for our students.

Bryan is currently receiving rave review for his portrayal of the news anchor Howard Beal, in the adaptation of the 1976 Oscar-winning film Network, at a sold-out run at the National Theatre.

For well over an hour Bryan spoke about a variety of topics from his start in the industry, and how he chooses his roles, to dealing with setbacks and the element of luck. Although our Masterclasses are set up as a Q&A, Bryan often stood up on stage and spoke directly to the students making it a much more personal experience for them all. The captive audience, many taking notes, were enthralled by his honesty, humour and generosity in sharing his experience and learnings.

Here are some of his most memorable quotes:

The Story…

  • The story should dictate the medium, not the other way around.
  • Breaking Bad would have made a terrible movie. It needed to be a longer piece to allow the characters to fully develop.
  • Think about what the strengths are of the individual mediums. Where does it fit? Where does it live? It’s always about the story. Not the other way around.
  • The story has to move me. It has to resonate.

Your Focus…

  • What are you really willing to sacrifice in order be a storyteller?
  • You have to be all in if you want to succeed. Treat this as you would any other relationship – if your heart’s not in it, as soon as things get tough, you’ll bail.
  • The job of an actor going into a room for an audition is to do your job, not to try and get that job.
  • No matter what you’re doing, present yourself professionally. Be courteous, but be confident.
  • Always ask: Am I fulfilling my own high standard? If you do that, then you can deal with setbacks and rejections.
  • It will surprise you where you end up (actor, producer, director etc). It may also surprise you where you actually refocus your attention. Allow that to come into your life. Be flexible with your careers. Take it all in.

Always Learning…

  • Be prepared to put yourself in the position of a beginner. Constantly put yourself in the position that you’re not the smartest person in the room – where you don’t know what’s going to happen.
  • You will never know everything about any situation 100% of the time.
  • Vulnerability is necessary.
  • If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not working hard enough.
  • Talk less, listen more.

The Business…

  • This business is tough – only the strong survive. There is never going to be a shortage of (actors, producers etc). You are entering into a position, which has no vacancy.
  • There’s always going to be someone who’s more talented than you. The one thing you can do is outwork them.

The Element of Luck…

  • You will need luck – look for it.
  • But luck is fickle, it’ll come when it wants to. Just make sure you are ready for it when it comes – make sure that script, that performance, that idea is the best it can possibly be so you’re ready when luck comes your way.

The packed lunchtime event hosted by Deputy Director of MetFilm School London, Rachel Wood, included a brief introduction to Bryan’s career, which started with his big break in the popular sitcom, Malcolm in the Middle followed by the formidable Walter White in Breaking Bad, to some recent notable movie roles such as Trumbo and his current stint in London’s west end.

Throughout his 40-year career, Bryan has won 52 awards (and nominated for 85 – figures he was unaware of), including six Emmys and one Golden Globe. His most recent award was the London Critics Circle Award for his performance in Network.

It was truly and an honour and privilege to welcome him to the School.

Find out more about Masterclass events at MetFilm School


Watch Bryan Cranston’s acceptance speech at the 2014 Emmy’s, where he won for Breaking Bad!