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Interview With Bryan Cranston ; Cranston & Godzilla; Celebrity Stalker Attacks Brad Pitt

Aired May 29, 2014 - 12:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And what are we doing putting a clip of LBJ on-- no, no. That was Bryan Cranston. It's a metamorphosis you have to see to believe.

He's here with me, live. So great to see you.

BRYAN CRANSTON, ACTOR: It's good to see you, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Thank you for coming in.

OK, first and foremost, we're going to talk "Breaking Bad," off the bat, but that clip that we just showed, I was there. I've seen the play. You are LBJ. It's freakish. It's incredible, remarkable.

CRANSTON: I share some of the qualities, those facial features that every man wants, squinty eyes, thin lips, a lot of wrinkles. It's a joy.

BANFIELD: So we're going to talk in-depth, actually, about "All the Way" and the play, and congratulations on the Tony --

CRANSTON: Thank you.

BANFIELD: -- nomination. First, though, I think you in your long history of many interviews and so much production called "Breaking Bad: and Walter White the role of a lifetime. Did you know in the beginning that you had that in you, that you had that man in you?

CRANSTON: I think so. I think every actor is just looking for an opportunity to be able to showcase themselves and their talents.

And I -- for some reason, it came into my lap, and I jumped on it. And I knew when I read it whoever was fortunate enough to get this role, it's going to change their career. And I didn't know at the time it was going to be me, but I was very grateful for.

BANFIELD: That executive producer of yours, Vince Gilligan, knew it was you. He fought the studios. He said this is this man. "Malcolm in the Middle," are you kidding me? And he knew.

CRANSTON: Exactly. They saw the "Malcolm in the Middle" dad, and he's a sweet, lovable, goofy, silly man, and they didn't think that was the right template for Walter White. But Vince Gilligan, God bless him, he said, no, he's an actor. This is what they do, and he's the guy. He can do this.

BANFIELD: The body positioning of Walter White -- and by the way, I have been steeped in "Breaking Bad" for the last couple of weeks. I finished the whole thing last week. I'm a little behind, obviously -- slumped with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and I think I saw somewhere that you equate that with your own dad, that you looked at your dad that way.

CRANSTON: Yeah, well, no, my dad now is almost 90, and naturally there's a -- gravity pulls you down. And I thought Walter White should have some of that sensibility, because he took on the weight of the world.

He was in depression, and so I pulled him down a little bit. He just didn't care about his posture and his eating habits and things like that. He was a little paunchy and pastry white, and he didn't care about fashion or his hair or anything.

BANFIELD: But he did at the end. He straightened right up.

CRANSTON: At the end he started caring. His shoulders were back when he was Heisenberg. He cared about things. He felt proud and felt dangerous

BANFIELD: He liked it.

CRANSTON: He liked it.

BANFIELD: Oh, dear, I got the willies. I got the willies when you delivered that line, too, in that last season.

When I read about your mom and your dad, your mom was a radio actress. Your dad was an actor who left you, and you were reunited with him, I think, 10 years after he left. And you went to live with your brother at your grandparents' farm, and you were working hard, collecting eggs and cleaning eggs.

This could have turned out very different. With a story like that, your life could have turned out very different. And, yet, I think I read a quote from you, saying you liked it, you were happy, doing the egg collecting and the work on the farm.

CRANSTON: We worked on his little gentleman farm. We had chores every day and we had homework, and then, to earn money we worked next door at this egg ranch, and we worked there as well. So it was all about work, and I think that's where I developed a work ethic that has served me for the rest of my career.

To me, I love working. That's my default take, is to go to work.

BANFIELD: I could have been interviewing you as a police officer involved in some legal issue.

CRANSTON: Very possible.

BANFIELD: That was your first thought, that you were going to be a cop, and you were headed that way.

CRANSTON: I was going to be a police officer because I found an aptitude for it when I was 16-years-old. I joined the police explorers, simply because they traveled a lot.

And so I joined them, had to go through the LAPD Academy, eight Saturdays straight, and I graduated top in my class, and I realized, oh, I'm good at this, so this is what I should do. And then I realized in my second year in college that the girls in theater arts were prettier than the ones in police science, so it redirected my whole focus to another area.

BANFIELD: Didn't you have a make out scene in one of these acting classes and the girl -- the other teenager was so passionately kissing you that you thought --

CRANSTON: I thought she was into me.

BANFIELD: She was into you.

CRANSTON: I thought -- I asked her out at our break and she went -- and she looked at me like I was a lost puppy and said, oh, no --

BANFIELD: You're adorable.

CRANSTON: Oh, and -- and then it hit me, I thought, oh, my God, she was acting. That is brilliant. I completely bought into it. And I felt, firsthand, the power of being able to be moved to believing certain things. And I thought, wow, if I'm going to do this, I need to see if I can become good at it.

BANFIELD: OK, well, I wasn't making out with you on Broadway, but I felt that power, watching you as LBJ, my friend. I watched you on that stage, and I was actually feeling like I was in the 1960s Oval Office, learning a lot of nuances of history I didn't know had even existed. So when we come back, if you can stay --


BANFIELD: -- we're going to talk about this, "All the Way."

And you know what? This guy, I think he's got a future. I think he's going to go all the way to the Tony Awards, that's for sure, Bryan Cranston on being LBJ. And by the way, lucky you're here today. We're doing "THE SIXTIES" on CNN. I'm going to talk to you a little bit about your influences.

CRANSTON: I can't wait.

BANFIELD: Yeah, me neither.

Bryan Cranston and more, when we come back.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRANSTON: This is the most important election of your lifetime, and the choices couldn't be clearer, peace or war, brotherhood or division, prosperity or poverty, a march into a bright future or a retreat into a dark past.


BANFIELD: I know what you're saying. They didn't have videotape when LBJ was alive. How did they do that?

Just in case you're just joining us, it's because that is Bryan Cranston, who used to be Walter White on the big screen and the little screen and all the screens that travel with you. And now he's on Broadway with this remarkable play. I -- a little disclosure here, my cousin is one of the executive producers on "Breaking Bad."


BANFIELD: That's how we originally met.


BANFIELD: And I discovered how much of a news junky you are.

CRANSTON: I am. I enjoy it. And in fact --

BANFIELD: You're so plugged in.

CRANSTON: -- you appeared on "Breaking Bad."


CRANSTON: Are we allowed to say that?


CRANSTON: You appeared on "Breaking Bad" in an episode that I directed.

BANFIELD: You directed that one? Really?

CRANSTON: Yes, I did.

BANFIELD: I was going to show some of those, but those were the days when -- I'm sure that's what gave the momentum to "Breaking Bad."

CRANSTON: That's it.

BANFIELD: The thing about you and your -- you being so plugged in to current news, I wondered if that's what inspired you and your historical fascination, because clearly, you didn't just do this role, you lived it, you read it, you listened to it, you went to the LBJ library. He was you.

CRANSTON: When I was a boy when Johnson became president, I had a different impression of him. He was very laconic and specific and determined and serious and he was like -- and that's not who he was at all. He was, as in the play, he was a storytelling, backslapping, crude, angry, self-pitying kind of guy. He was all over the place.

In fact, people who know him say you can't assign any one adjective to him. You have to use them all. He was that, you know, along the spectrum of human emotions he hit every single mark.

BANFIELD: You got to -- in preparing for the role, you were listening to a lot of LBJ tapes.


BANFIELD: Is there anything specific along the way?

CRANSTON: Are you baiting me?

BANFIELD: I'm so baiting you right now, Bryan, because I've run it as a news item and I can't say it, but you can.

CRANSTON: I can. Well, he had a conversation with a tailor down in Texas, and he said now -- and he's eating. You can tell he's eating while he's doing this, and he's eating and belching at the same time. I need them slacks because my weight goes up and down in the White House. And I need a little more room there between my nut sack and my bunghole. And I --

That got through, huh?

BANFIELD: Totally got through the censors, you're good to go. Yes.

CRANSTON: And I went, my God, that's the president of the United States talking. And he said, I need some more room there, because -- and then he also said in little clips, I need about an inch longer in the pockets so my knife doesn't fall out. Here's the president of the United States carries a knife.

BANFIELD: Carries a knife.

CRANSTON: In case he needs to whittle something.

BANFIELD: It's awesome, the things that we find out. But at the same time, I think it's fair to say, look, we, you and I, we lived through the '60s. And the influences are so remarkable.

I think about the things that have set me in propulsion for what I ended up doing in my life. And we're -- CNN is airing this fantastic series starting tonight on the '60s, and we're starting with television and how gratuitous that you would be here.

CRANSTON: I've got it recorded, because I have a show tonight, so I can't see it live, but I have it recorded.

BANFIELD: And I wanted to know what your first memory of television was. What hit you? CRANSTON: We had the little tiny pictures, and they were all black and white, and before color televisions came in -- I don't know if you remember this.

BANFIELD: Oh, no, I do.

CRANSTON: There was a film that you lay over your black and white television, and it gave a blue sky and green -- it's like crazy. And then the first family in the neighborhood who got a color television, everybody's over to watch it.

BANFIELD: Like the family with the pool.

CRANSTON: Yeah, the family with the pool. It's crazy.

The '60s is the most dynamic decade, I think, in American history

BANFIELD: Look, I saw Tina Louise last night at the premiere in Grand Central Station, and she's Ginger, you know.

CRANSTON: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

BANFIELD: And everybody knows, you know, what are you? Are you Mary Ann --

CRANSTON: A Ginger or Mary Ann, yeah.

BANFIELD: -- or Ginger, right? And everyone there, despite whether they were 22 or 52 or 72, knew who she was.

CRANSTON: That's the ability to reach back. There's nothing that isn't available to us now. You know, I was on an airplane. I walked onto an airplane, and a guy on his phone was watching "Breaking Bad." It's not really how they intended for people to watch it, but he went, oh, my God, look it, look it!

BANFIELD: I would love that you walking by while watching.

And, by the way, it's how so many of us are watching awesome, quality television. There is so much good material out there, and we can watch it on our downtime when we're on the move, which is really helpful and how I got to research all of your roles, as well.

In just a moment we're going to talk about not only a little bit more about what makes this fellow tick, but also the whole "Godzilla" thing. You almost turned down "Godzilla," I heard.

CRANSTON: I did. I did, yeah.

BANFIELD: And why was that? It's blockbuster.

CRANSTON: I'll tell you after the break.

BANFIELD: He's made for television. Can you come read the news tomorrow.

CRANSTON: I can read the news.

BANFIELD: We'll be right back.


BANFIELD: One of Hollywood's greatest leading men, not just my words, a lot of people's words, joining us this hour. Just in case you don't know him, and I highly doubt that, here's Bryan Cranston at work in the summer blockbuster "Godzilla."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are we at full function?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are. But perhaps we should be drawing down to be safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You take us off line.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do it now. Wind it down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sandra (ph) - Sandra (ph) -


BANFIELD: Oh, I with - I wish you could have been watching Bryan watching himself. Can I say it? He said, well, I looked like the guy in the hemorrhoid commercial. It's true. It's remarkable the similarities between the two of you.

So, I didn't expect to hear about "Godzilla." You nearly passed on "Godzilla," why?

BRYAN CRANSTON, EMMY AWARD WINNING ACTOR: Well, it's just, you know, coming off of "Breaking Bad," we had another year and half to go and I knew it was coming to an end and I thought, oh, I have to do something that's of the same quality and writing that "Breaking Bad" is and I held it to a very high standard. And then I realized, well, that's unfair. And I loved "Godzilla."

That was my favorite monster as a kid growing up. And one of my agents said, you know, you really should read this script because it's very different from what you think. And so I did read it and my character's a very strong father-son relationship in the narrative and I thought, this is exactly what I should do because it won't be compared to breaking bad. It's a completely different genre. It's a lot of fun. I think they used the 3D quality very soundly because it's not overdone. It's a good, fun movie.

BANFIELD: Isn't this kind of your secret sauce? I mean the idea here is not to do what works necessarily, it's to do something completely different every time you finish a project. I mean you went from Hal - CRANSTON: Yes.

BANFIELD: To Walter White.


BANFIELD: They could not be more diametrically opposed.


BANFIELD: To LBJ. And then, you know, in the "Godzilla" movie. Is this sort of your mission?

CRANSTON: Well, I like it. I think -- you're a victim of your success, perhaps. And you're -- once you do something that gets some notoriety, they offer you roles that are similar to that. And you become derivative of yourself. And I just didn't want to do that. So I keep wanting to change things up and go to Broadway and do this great play. And next, you know, I'm doing a small movie about the Hollywood blacklist.


CRANSTON: Dalton Trumbo, yes.

BANFIELD: Looking forward to that.

You know, you -- for anybody who might not know this, there is a cadre with Vince Gilligan, Michelle MacLaren, you and others who really cut your teeth with "X-Files" -

CRANSTON: Oh, yes.

BANFIELD: Twenty years ago.


BANFIELD: "X-Files." And you have -- the team has moved along and done these remarkable projects. Though all your fans I'm sure want to know, is that team going to reunite and deliver another remarkable product?

CRANSTON: I sure hope so. Here's a clip of me as the jerk in the backseat of the car. I was -


CRANSTON: I just happened to have the right hair. That's -- you look at the big mutton chops and that big nasty mustache and you go, he's a jerk, let's hire him. And so that's the character that I play. And that's -- thank God for Vince Gilligan because he was -- he wrote and produced that episode. And if it weren't for that opportunity to do that one episode on "X-Files," I would not be sitting here. I wouldn't have had the chance to do "Breaking Bad." So -

BANFIELD: I hope you reconnect too.

Can I just say one thing?


BANFIELD: When I saw the -- spoiler alert for all of you who are going to watch, you know, "Breaking Bad" on Netflix, shut your ears right now. That final scene, that final image -

CRANSTON: Oh, I know.

BANFIELD: I know. Whatever, right?


BANFIELD: And I'm like, what? And he's like, yeah (ph).

CRANSTON: You mean when he had the sex change?

BANFIELD: Seriously, dude, no.

CRANSTON: I never saw that coming.

BANFIELD: I'm going to ask you really, seriously -

CRANSTON: OK. All right.

BANFIELD: I wasn't so sure that you died. I really wasn't. Your eyes were open and I thought, what if the police just take him into custody, he gets better, breaks out and just goes nuts.

CRANSTON: You never saw a bag zip up or anything, right? Nobody's -

BANFIELD: None of that. No. Is he dead?

CRANSTON: I don't know.

BANFIELD: No movie, no nothing, no Walter White ever again?

CRANSTON: Well, you know, I -- never say never. Let's just say that.

BANFIELD: Oh, dear God, please come back. I love Walter White.

You can come back here any time and read the news too if you need to do some other incarnation of this fabulous work you do.


BANFIELD: Bryan, thank you. And thank you for all this time too. It's been a delight to talk to you.

CRANSTON: Good to see you, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And congrats. Good luck on the Tony. You'll be an EGOT.


BANFIELD: The Emmy, the Grammy, (INAUDIBLE), the Oscar and the Tony. CRANSTON: I'll do a - I'll do a talking record, like Will Shatner.

BANFIELD: Well, you've got a memoir too coming out.

CRANSTON: I'm at - yes, I'm writing a book. I am writing a book.

BANFIELD: (INAUDIBLE). I love it. Thank you.

CRANSTON: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Great to see you.

CRANSTON: Good to see you.

BANFIELD: Bryan Cranston.

Coming up, this is weird. He was slugged while walking the red carpet. And his suspected attacker is a guy who's known for pulling off these types of stunts in the past. So why on earth could he get anywhere near Brad Pitt? We'll ask you that in a moment.


BANFIELD: He is a celebrity stalker and he has struck again just last night and his target was the uber famous Brad Pitt. I say again because the suspect is well-known for his red carpet crashing escapades. And as Brad Pitt was walking the red carpet at the premiere of his partner, Angelina Jolie's new movie "Maleficent," in Los Angeles, a guy lunged out of the crowd and then took a swing at him. A swing. Hollywood A-listers know all about his attention-grabbing antics. Here's entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner with the story.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was like any red carpet event, Brad Pitt signing autographs for fans, when suddenly a man swings at the superstar, police say striking him in the face. It happened at the premiere of partner Angelina Jolie's new film "Maleficent." When the man lunged, security moved in, quickly taking him down. He was cuffed.

Police identified him as Vitalii Sediuk, a 25-year-old who is notorious in Hollywood for his red carpet crashing antics. Two weeks ago, Sediuk was dragged off the red carpet at Cannes when he tried to crawl under actress America Ferrera's dress. Sediuk is best known for this, getting slammed himself. Will Smith took a swipe at the prankster back in May 2012 after Sediuk tried to kiss Smith on the mouth. The troublemaker, Sediuk, was also making headlines earlier this year for getting too close for comfort to Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper at separate red carpet events.


BANFIELD: Nischelle Turner reporting for us. Joey Jackson analyzing for us as a lawyer and a good one at that. Am I calling you if I'm Brad Pitt and saying, do something about this?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: This is scary. Oh, listen, something has to be done. And, you know what, it's not only even about Brad Pitt, right? The message has to be sent that this is unacceptable. Listen, Ashleigh, he's got a history, that is this nut, of doing this to people. And what if he had a knife or something more serious? And that's why it needs to be pursued and it needs to be pursued with vigor. It's a simple misdemeanor, right? It's battery. It's offensive touching. You know, a $2,000 fine, up to six months in jail. But the larger issue here is it could have been really detrimental and really serious.

BANFIELD: If you are Brad's camp and any of the other actors who've had to deal with this guy before, Will Smith, et cetera, are you looking to file assault charges so that there is a criminal record, perhaps even an incarceration, and then ultimately, after that, the restraining order, which is a piece of paper, is perhaps far more strong.

JACKSON: Absolutely. And you know why? And I know, you know, Brad Pitt's a wonderful person. He's a gentleman. I'm sure, you know, he doesn't want to push anything or anything else. But the message needs to be sent. And, of course, Brad Pitt, you know, continued to sign autographs and do that thing.

And just make no mistake about it, simply because Brad Pitt wasn't hurt doesn't make this any less of a crime. It's a crime because he touched him and it was a willful touching that was offensive. And so in order to send a message, Ashleigh, to anyone else who may fall prey or victim to a nut like this, he has to, that is Brad Pitt, has to pursue this with vigor and might in order to stop people like him again.

BANFIELD: And as if they don't have to deal with enough in their life with paparazzi, you know, banging into them (INAUDIBLE).

JACKSON: Exactly. And those beautiful children they have.

BANFIELD: I know. I know. Well, lots of them, that's for sure.


BANFIELD: Joey Jackson, thank you.

JACKSON: A pleasure and a privilege.

BANFIELD: Great to have you, as always.

JACKSON: Thank you, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And thank you all. It's been great to have you with us during this program, but I am flat out of time and that means the most incredible man on television, Wolf Blitzer, starts now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, the outrage over V.A. health care delays is expanding. More Democrats are calling for the V.A. Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation.