A Life in Parts by Bryan CranstonA Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston

A Life in Parts

byBryan Cranston

Hardcover | October 11, 2016

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A poignant, intimate, funny, inspiring memoir—both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft—from Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history’s most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.

Bryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father cast him in a United Way commercial. Acting was clearly the boy’s destiny, until one day his father disappeared. Destiny suddenly took a backseat to survival.

Now, in his riveting memoir, Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he’s played in real life—paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father. Cranston also chronicles his evolution on camera, from soap opera player trying to master the rules of show business to legendary character actor turning in classic performances as Seinfeld dentist Tim Whatley, “a sadist with newer magazines,” and Malcolm in the Middle dad Hal Wilkerson, a lovable bumbler in tighty-whities. He also gives an inspiring account of how he prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenging role of President Lyndon Johnson, a tour de force that won him a Tony to go along with his four Emmys.

Of course, Cranston dives deep into the grittiest details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most memorable performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

Discussing his life as few men do, describing his art as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. But ultimately A Life in Parts is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work.
Bryan Cranston was born in Hollywood, California in 1956. He attended Los Angeles Valley College and graduated with an associate degree in police science. He began acting after college and built a successful career which included screenwriting, directing and producer. He acted in the television comedy, Malcom in the Middle and was nomi...
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Title:A Life in PartsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:October 11, 2016Publisher:ScribnerLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1476793859

ISBN - 13:9781476793856

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy Read and Well Written The format of the book makes for a very fun easy read. All short stories from him life. If you're waiting for a book about Breaking Bad, this might not be your answer because there isn't a lot about it. But it still has some great stories that will have you wondering how all of this cool stuff can happen to one person. It also has it's darker side with respect to his relationship with his family.
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book I thoroughly enjoyed this book. He goes through his life is a fantastic way and presents all of the great lessons that made him into the man he is today and the great actor that he is. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable This isn't your typical memoir. I love the way it's arranged - by the different parts that he's played in his lifetime. You get his point of view on being a father, son, his different acting roles etc. And of course if you love Breaking Bad there is lots of behind the scenes info on that too. A great book that is easy to read and easy to relate to. If you didn't love Bryan Cranston before this - you will now.
Date published: 2017-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from his acting draws upon real life... and quite an interesting one with chilling experiences. One of my favourite actors.
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So good! There wasn't anything I didn't like about this. It was so honest and real and he didn't always paint himself in a great light but it was human. I loved it.
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! A Life in Parts is a highly entertaining celebrity biography. The writing was honest and open, mixed with a surprising seriousness as well as Bryan Cranston's sense of humor. I am a huge fan of both Bryan Cranston as well as Breaking Bad, and am even more fond of both after reading this book.
Date published: 2017-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing. This book details just details how if one works hard, they can achieve their goals, as long as they put in determination and passion.
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable It's a good read, I enjoyed it
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What danger? Good read from a talented and interesting actor. Would recommend to anyone who wants a behind the scenes look at Walter White.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Funny, Inspirational, Creative! Important Note: This book does contain some pretty major Breaking Bad spoilers so if you haven't yet watched/finished the show and still intend to, hold off on reading this book. As far as celebrity memoirs go, this has become one of my favourites. Bryan Cranston, most notably of Breaking Bad fame, details his life as a series of "parts" he's played both onscreen and off. Let me tell you, he could give the Dos Equis guy a run for his money as the most interesting man in the world. From playing one of TV's most notorious characters, to a job as a security guard, to a part time stint as a wedding officiant, Cranston has seen and done many interesting and strange things. He notes that the producers of Malcolm in the Middle had a running challenge of "what crazy things can we get Bryan to do this week?" and rarely did he ever turn down a challenge be it dancing around and jiggling his belly onscreen, clad in tighty-whities or wearing a coat of live bees. This is a running theme throughout his life. No opportunity is out of the question. His stories range from funny to heartbreaking to inspirational. It feels like a conversation with an old friend, all the while it is exceptionally well written.
Date published: 2016-10-05

Read from the Book

A Life in Parts Walter White She stopped coughing. Maybe she’d fallen back asleep. Then suddenly vomit flooded her mouth. She grasped at the sheets. She was choking. I instinctively reached to turn her over. But I stopped myself. Why should I save her? This little junkie, Jane, was threatening to blackmail me, expose my enterprise to the police, destroy everything I had worked for, and wipe out the financial life preserver I was trying to leave my family—the only legacy I could leave them. She gurgled, searching for a gasp of air. Her eyes rolled back in her head. I felt a stab of guilt. Goddamn it, she’s just a girl. Do something. But if I stepped in now, wasn’t I just delaying the inevitable? Don’t they all at some point end up dead? And poor dumb comatose Jesse, my partner, lying beside her. She’s the one who got him on this shit in the first place. She’d kill them both, kill us all, if I stepped in now and played God. I told myself: just stay out of it. When he wakes he’ll discover this tragedy—this accident—on his own. Yes, it’s sad. All death is sad. But he’ll get over it in time. He’ll get past this like every other bad thing that’s happened to us. That’s what humans do. We heal. We move on. A few months from now he’ll barely remember her. He’ll find another girlfriend, and he’ll be fine. Fuck it. We all have to move on. I’ll just pretend I wasn’t here. But I am here. And she’s a human being. Oh God. What have I become? And then, somehow, as she was fading, she wasn’t herself anymore. I wasn’t looking at Jane, or Jesse’s girlfriend, or the actor Krysten Ritter. I was looking at Taylor, my daughter, my real daughter. I wasn’t Walter White anymore. I was Bryan Cranston. And I was seeing my daughter die. From the moment she was born in 1993—a bit premature, shy of seven pounds, impossibly beautiful—I felt an instant, radical, unconditional love that redefined love. I had never allowed myself to imagine losing her. But now, I was seeing it. Clearly. Vividly. She was slipping from me. She was dying. That was not the plan. When I do the homework for such a delicate scene, I don’t make a plan. My goal when I prepare isn’t to plot out each action and reaction, but to think: What are the possible emotional levels my character could experience? I break the scene down into moments or beats. By doing that work ahead of time, I leave a number of possibilities available to me. I stay open to the moment, susceptible to whatever comes. The homework doesn’t guarantee anything; with luck, it gives you a shot at something real. It was real fear that gripped me—my worst fear. A fear I hadn’t fully expected or come to terms with. And my reaction is there, forever, at the end of that scene. I gasp, and my hand moves to my mouth in horror. When the director, Colin Bucksey, said, “Cut,” I was weeping. Deep racking sobs. I explained to the people on set what had happened, what I had seen. Michael Slovis, our cinematographer, embraced me. My castmates, too. I remember in particular Anna Gunn, who played my wife, Skyler. I hugged her. I must have held on for five minutes. Poor Anna. Anna knew. As an actor she has a fragility at her core, and she often had a hard time shedding her character’s emotions after shooting difficult scenes. That will happen in an actor’s life, and it happened to me that day. It was the most harrowing scene I did on Breaking Bad, and really . . . ever. It may seem odd. It may even seem ghoulish. To stand in a room packed with people and lights and cameras and pretend I’m letting a girl choke to death. And then to see my daughter’s face in lieu of that girl. And to call that work. To call that your job. But it’s not odd to me. Actors are storytellers. And storytelling is the essential human art. It’s how we understand who we are. I don’t mean to make it sound high-flown. It’s not. It’s discipline and repetition and failure and perseverance and dumb luck and blind faith and devotion. It’s showing up when you don’t feel like it, when you’re exhausted and you think you can’t go on. Transcendent moments come when you’ve laid the groundwork and you’re open to the moment. They happen when you do the work. In the end, it’s about the work. Every day on Breaking Bad I’d wake up about 5:30 and have coffee, take a shower, get dressed. Some days I was so tired, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. I’d drive the nine miles from my condo in Nob Hill to Q Studios, five miles south of the airport in Albuquerque—ABQ as the locals call it. I’d be in the makeup chair by 6:30. I’d shave my head anew. Knock down the nubs. It didn’t take too long for makeup. By 7:00 a.m. we’d see everyone: the other actors, the crew. Then we’d start rehearsing. The allotment was a twelve-hour shoot. Plus a one-hour lunch. So a normal day was thirteen hours. It was very rare that the day was shorter. Occasionally, it was longer. Some days went seventeen hours. A lot of it had to do with whether we were on location. If it was just a minimum day, we’d wrap at 8:00 p.m. Then I’d grab a sandwich and apple for the road. I didn’t want to take the time to stop. I’d call my wife, Robin, from the car. How are you? Yeah, long day. I’d see how she was doing. I’d ask about Taylor. I’d still be talking to her when I walked into the house. I’d say goodnight and then have that sandwich while looking over what we were doing the next day. I’d take a hot bath with a little glass of red wine. Then I’d hit the sack. But even before the drive home, every night after we finished, I’d go in the hair and makeup trailer and take two hot, wet towels that my friends in the makeup department had presoaked, and I’d drape one over my head and I’d wrap the other over my face. I’d sit in the chair and let everything soak off, feeling all the toxins drain away. I’d sit until the towels went cold against my face, leeching myself of Walter White. That day I saw Jane die—that day I saw Taylor’s face—that day I went to a place I’d never been, I opened my eyes and stared through the scrim of the white towel into the light above. I’d put everything, everything, into that scene. All the things I was and all the things I might have been: all the side roads and the missteps. All the stuttering successes and the losses I thought might sink me. I was murderous and I was capable of great love. I was a victim, moored by my circumstances, and I was the danger. I was Walter White. But I was never more myself.

Editorial Reviews

Fascinating...The candor and self-introspection of this book are reminiscent of another unflinchingly honest memoir, the late Katharine Graham’s magnificent 'Personal History.'"--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette