One of the perks of being in SAG is getting to go to the free programs that the SAG Foundation offers. One of these is a series called "Conversations" where they screen a movie or an episode of a TV series and then have some of the cast there to talk about the project and their experiences.
Last night, I went to the Breaking Bad Conversation. Breaking Bad is an AMC original series that is dark, edgy, and really solid. Bryan Cranston (well known as the dad on Malcolm in the Middle) plays a husband/father/chemistry teacher who finds out he has terminal lung cancer. In an effort to ensure his family is provided for after his death, he decides to use his chemistry expertise to get involved in making and selling meth. Last night, we screened the Season 2 premiere (which played on AMC this week) and it was great.
After the show, the entire main cast came out and a moderator facilitated a discussion that ranged from how they each got the job, to some favorite and least favorite moments to shoot. It was really insightful and a lot of fun. When asked to give any advice for aspiring actors, there was a lot of the usual stuff: "work hard. get used to rejection."
But, Bryan Cranston (who is brilliant in his lead role, and who also directed the season premiere) had a thoughtful take. He said, "I don't know anyone who has made a good career in Hollywood without luck. And that's just the way it is. So, of course you try to prepare for that, to put yourself in that position (where luck is more likely to find you) by fostering relationships with casting people, etc., but you do then need an element of luck." This was nice to see that someone so good at what he does still recognizes the fact that some luck is necessary to succeed, and that he appreciates his.
Another tidbit that was very interesting was how this role came to Cranston -- a very different role than the comedic dad on Malcolm. He relayed the story of how the writer/creator of Breaking Bad had remembered him from a guest starring role he had on another of the writer's shows, The X-Files, more than 10 years ago! That couple day job got him the meeting for this pilot which went from a scheduled 20 minutes to over an hour and a half. And the rest, as they say, is history...