By Brian Scott Lipton
Perhaps no actor is “hotter” right this second than Bryan Cranston, who recently added another Golden Globe and his first SAG Award for his seething portrayal of drug lord Walter White on AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” And this June, the 56-year-old actor may well add a Tony Award to his trophy case for his portrayal of former U.S. president Lyndon Baines Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s wide-ranging drama “All the Way,” which begins performances on February 10th at the Neil Simon Theatre, with an official opening on March 6th.
Interestingly, Cranston is not the role’s originator. The play was commissioned for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where it was performed by local actors. But once a more commercial run was planned, OSF artistic director Bill Rauch, who is directing the Broadway production, knew he needed a bigger star and immediately thought of Cranston. Unsuprisingly, the actor, who first played the role last summer at Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater, can’t wait to get back to being LBJ, whom he calls “incredible.”
He’ll also be working with a top-notch cast of nearly 20 actors (some of whom also appeared in the A.R.T. production), including John McMartin, Michael McKean, Betsy Aidem, Robert Petkoff, Brandon J. Dirden, Rob Campbell, and J. Bernard Calloway, who portray such historical figures as J. Edgar Hoover, Martin Luther King. Jr, Ralph Abernathy, Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace, and Lady Bird Johnson. Each cast member takes his or her role seriously, with many doing copious research to ensure that their representation of the famed figures are accurate. And whether they’re playing a “good” person or not is irrelevant. “It’s not my job to redeem J. Edgar Hoover,” says McKean.
The cast is also unanimous in its praise of Cranston, both as the ultimate team player and as a great actor with whom it’s an honor and pleasure to share the stage. He may have been “Breaking Bad”, but it’s clear that Bryan Cranston is good people!
*Photos/Video: Sandi Durell
Interviews: Brian Scott Lipton