On the heels of Trumbo and The Infiltrator, respective forays into big-screen comedy and back to crime drama (but on the legal side of the drug war), and having just finished shooting the upcoming Power Rangers movie in the role of Zordon, a holographic, talking head, a legitimately puzzling question on every one’s mind might be: “What will Bryan Cranston choose to do next?” Many people, from fans to the freelancers at Screen Rant to the execs who employ Cranston, but including the actor himself, also have strong opinions about the next role we want to see the man behind (immortalized Breaking Bad anti-hero) Walter White occupy.
In multiple interviews, the Hollywood native has suggested a handful (i.e., fewer than 15) of different roles that he would jump at the opportunity to take on should the right circumstances, namely a strong, character-driven story to support the role, arise. If anything, Bryan Cranston’s career choices stand as a testament to his instincts; when he connects with a story and a role, he knocks it out of the park. Which is good because one of the characters he has a stated desire to play literally works in some capacity for a baseball franchise. Included alongside the smattering of roles that the Breaking Bad superstar has personally showed interest in, are characters that fans and message board-ers around the Web have suggested he play. Still others listed are roles that just would make sense given the actor’s broad range and his previous performances and obvious strengths.
Before Breaking Bad made him even more than just a household name, Cranston played Lucifer, the Devil himself (perhaps not a far cry from playing Walter White’s alter ego, Heisenberg) while a decade earlier he had a recurring role as a dentist on the milestone comedy sitcom, Seinfeld. In some cases, there would be no reason to cast Cranston in a particular rhetorical role other than the fact he literally looks the part, for example in the case of some of the biopics pitched below or (spoiler alert!) Commissioner Gordon from the DC Cinematic Universe. With that in mind, here are fifteen parts that Bryan Cranston himself, Internet dwellers, or the universe want the man to play.
15. Gotham City’s Commissioner Jim Gordon
Given that Bryan Cranston really started getting attention in his role as a doting, bumbling, anxiety-ridden but lovable father on Fox TV’s Malcolm In The Middle, it is no surprise that his credits boast a slew of kid-friendly voiceover parts for animated features like Warner Bros.’ Batman: Year One and Kung Fu Panda 3. In the former, Cranston voiced trusted lawman Commissioner James “Jim” Gordon. While it is a shame that director Christopher Nolan has purportedly sworn off the live-action Batman franchise, with the (upcoming) release of (Suicide Squad and) Batman v Superman, the DC Cinematic Universe is obviously not going anywhere anytime soon. It would only make sense then that, if Bryan Cranston can voice Commissioner Gordon, and already has the bespectacled, stressed-out look down, then whoever revitalizes the Batman saga should vote Cranston for Commissioner.
14. Which President Should He Play Next?
Though an admitted stretch and an impressive feat to win a Tony Award as a Los Angeles native acting on stage as Texas-born politician and 36th President of The United States (succeeding JFK, post-assassination), Lyndon B. Johnson, there are other U.S. Presidents with equally (if not more) tumultuous and historically relevant political careers that would present an even-greater-but-exponentially-more-rewarding challenge to Bryan Cranston’s acting chops. New Deal-era Franklin D. Roosevelt inherited the Great Depression from his predecessor, J. Edgar Hoover, just as LBJ inherited the weight of the Civil Rights movement from JFK. Roosevelt altered the U.S. political landscape arguably more than any other President and his fireside chats were not only a way to mask his disability from public opinion, but the first Presidential use of broadcast media; making FDR a challenge for any actor to inhabit, but a challenge Bryan Cranston has the clear talent to meet.
13. Co-trumbo: Reprise Role For The Late, Great Peter Falk?
Admittedly, the two actors, Cranston and Falk, are only somewhat similar in their appearance and, paradoxically, in how unique-and-therefore-different-from-the-herd, they are. Not to mention the fact that they both tend to inhabit nuanced, intensely idiosyncratic characters. For this reason, it seems an inevitability that Bryan Cranston will eventually play a detective reminiscent of the glass-eyed Columbo or (Tony Shalhoub‘s) obsessive-compulsive Monk. Either that or, given Cranston’s tenure as a lovable TV father, in lieu of a free wheeling, eccentric detective, he would thrive in the role of a no-nonsense but tender grandpa tending to and reading a mysteriously heretofore unheard fairytale to his sick grandson in a (fingers crossed) Princess Bride sequel.
12. The Next Naked Gun
When Leslie Nielsen passed way in 2010, his legacy as a comedic actor and filmmaker was well established and the influence of cult-classic farces like Airplane and The Naked Gun trilogy apparent in the next generation of genre-parody like the Wayans Brothers’ Scary Movie franchise. Bryan Cranston has shown he can play goofy just as artfully as he can play menacing, but nothing the Breaking Bad star has cut his teeth on thus far can be classified as straight-up slapstick. All actors will agree, being funny is infinitely more difficult than being dramatic, and the Catskill-inspired shtick, perfected by comedy movie greats like Mel Brooks and standups like Rodney Dangerfield, which colored all of Leslie Nielsen’s work, is no exception to this rule. Hence, it would be an apt challenge for a powerhouse actor as Bryan Cranston to pull off: The Naked Gun 44 1/4. Get it?
11. Bryan Cranston As Charles Manson?
Outside of playing the worst guy of them all, the Devil, credited as Lucifer the Lightbringer in a TV-miniseries called Fallen, that came and went in the year prior to the premiere of Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston has never actually played the type of sociopathic and totally non-conflicted, violent brute that his anti-hero Walter White could never quite relate to save brief flashes of evil that bubbled up as White’s Hyde-like criminal alter-ego Heisenberg took the reins. Despite this fact, the perfect trifecta of solid script, visionary production team, and Cranston’s acting chops is bound eventually to see the actor cast as a born unredeemable monster to give kids and adults alike nightmares in perpetuity. If the dark side of Miss Hollywood’s imagination suffers writer’s block though, there is no shortage of real-world psycho that Cranston could portray in a chilling documentary.
10. As The Lovable Burnout
Save this foray into comedic trashiness, Bryan Cranston has also never really played an indelible, lovable burnout role; something akin to William H. Macy‘s recent out-of-the-park acting in his role as “family man” Frank Gallagher in FX’s ongoing dramedy series, Shameless comes to mind. This particular image of Cranston and his Breaking Bad co-star is a still from a promo video for the legitimately funny in its own right, 66th Annual Emmy Awards ceremony and show. The short was titled “Barely Legal Pawn”, and re-casts the dynamic, drug-dealing duo as a pair of shady pawnshop brokers… at a store that Julia Louis-Dreyfuss happens to walk into, hoping to hock her previously-won, Seinfeld Emmy. As Julia enters, Cranston kicks off the scene with a quintessentially creepy, gringo: “Well, hello there, mamasita,” and his future performance as a barely-loveable deadbeat has all but been committed to film.
9. Clark Gable Biopic
This photo was taken on the red carpet at the 66th Annual (2014) Emmys, where Bryan Cranston and former Seinfeld co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfuss presented the award for Best Actor in a Comedy–an award Cranston was nominated for but robbed of during his tenure as Hal on Malcolm In The Middle. After razzing the man (who would go on that night to win big for his portrayal of Walter White on Breaking Bad) for his mustachioed look, Louis-Dreyfuss saying, “Hold on, Clark Gable,” the couple passionately kissed in what turned out to be an entirely planned gag that the married/marry presenters had to run by their spouses, as well as by the network censors. What else could these events be, if not the universe telling Hollywood to cast Cranston in the remake of a Clark Gable classic?
8. The King, The Pharaoh, The Mandarin
Yul Brynner was a Russian-born actor who won the Academy Award in 1957 for portraying a South East Asian emperor in The King And I. Brynner also famously played an Egyptian pharaoh opposite Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. As Hollywood becomes more egalitarian in the wake of an all-Caucasian nominee roster at the 88th Oscars ceremony, it may be frowned upon to suggest a White male play any non-White role. On the other hand, some might argue that cast change-ups like those in the recent Ghostbusters reboot suggest character and story can transcend casts demographics. Either way, this image of Bryan Cranston combined with his demonstrated range as an actor hint at the feasibility of Cranston nailing the role of a Pharoah, emperor, or The Mandarin (should Marvel Studios consider making it up to comic book fans who were disappointed when, for the sake of political correctness, this usually menacing character was turned into a farce).
7. Agent Cranston Has Gone Rogue
Though Bryan Cranston has already played memorable characters on both sides of the law and every role in between, he has not yet stepped into the shoes of any archetypal spy or investigator characters; Tom Cruise will be playing Agent Ethan Hunt in the big-screen Mission: Impossible series until the “thetans” overtake Cruise’s immortal soul or “Lord Zenu” gets the better of us and Matt Damon is Jason Bourne. But, perhaps Cranston could play a classic Bond villain, nicknamed The Cook or The Chemist of course, or maybe joining Simon Pegg as part of the always-in-over-their-head crew keeping Agent Hunt alive. Either way, the spy genre needs Bryan Cranston. Worse comes to worst, this Tommy Lee Jones lookalike could play one of Jason Bourne’s handlers who always knows just a little more than the protagonist himself, about himself, or play a comedic or villainous foil to Robert Downey, Jr.‘s Sherlock Holmes. Or, do I hear: Men In Black IV?
6. John Locke From Lost
Given how well-guarded the season cliffhangers and the story arc leading to the final episodes of AMC’s Breaking Bad (and of Fox’s Lost), Bryan Cranston showed that he can work as part of an ensemble cast-propelled vehicle with a twisted plot the likes of which would, and likely did, blow J.J. Abrams’ twisted, post-hoc plot building mind. This combined with Cranston’s intense performance as a soft-spoken, usually well-meaning, but potentially ruthless and deadly adversary, evident in performances like that during the final confrontation (scene) between Dean Norris’ Uncle Hank and Cranston’s Walter White, points to the former Malcolm In The Middle star as a shoe in for mystical, misunderstood protagonist in the next J.J. Abrams-conceived production.
5. 80s Live-Action Reboot?
Maybe Bryan Cranston’s skill and range are what is needed to breathe serious life back into some of the 1980s cartoon and video game franchises that badly tanked at the box office or had dismal ratings on TV when they were adapted to live action. Masters Of The Universe, Mario Bros. and The Smurfs, the latter earning big bucks in theaters but not quite winning over the hearts and minds of critics, are just a few examples. The stars and star power is aligned, Michael Bay has proven he can cover fan favorites (with the most recent TMNT offering) or play darker renditions of old hits, making villains like Megatron/Galvatron infinitely more menacing in CGI, and Cranston is one of the most versatile performers working today. Fans have been itching for a live-action Thundercats and actor James McAvoy, has explicitly stated he would never work on a live-action version of what happened to be his favorite childhood cartoon. Though nobody is set to play Lion-o in any Thundercats movie, Cranston and Bay should get on that.
4. Sgt. Cranston’s Lonely Hearts Club
Outside of voicing Commander Tony Drake on the animated dark spy comedy Archer and playing father to a military school brat on Malcolm In The Middle, and given the CIA are technically not a branch of the military disqualifying his role as operative Jack O’Donnell in Argo from consideration, Bryan Cranston has not been cast as a soldier or commanding officer in any major motion picture or network television project. Cranston would make as convincing a drill sergeant as he would a green, boot camp recruit, and would give equally visceral performances as a cadet or a hardened vet in the thick of combat. Having played Lyndon B., the man who escalated U.S. military involvement in South East Asia, perhaps it is time Bryan lent his talents to the honorable Hollywood legacy of Vietnam War films.
3. Marvel’s Mr. Sinister
On a panel discussion at 2015’s Comic Con, Seth Green and Bryan Cranston fielded questions mostly regarding their roles in the straight-to-streaming (available through Crackle), stop-motion animated comedy series SuperMansion, about a group of dated super-humans living together, trying to stay relevant. During this conversation, available on YouTube, Cranston declared his desire to play a very specific character from the Marvel comic universe, the shadowy, Mr. Sinister. This particular mutant has yet to appear in theaters but his backstory is intricately tied to the super-humans featured in X-Men: Apocalypse, making it likely that this key player in the post-Apocalypse world of the X-Men will make an appearance eventually. Cranston’s self-casting is spot on given his penchant for playing anti-heroes and the hazy nature of Sinister’s motives in the comics.
2. From McCarthy-era Writer To (Joe Vincent) McCarthy
Bryan Cranston threw fans for a loop when, in a red carpet-interview after a celebrity screening in New York, he told PEOPLE magazine he would “love to be in a baseball movie”. The 59-year old actor told interviewers that he loves the game and would jump at the opportunity hit the dugout, specifically as a manager, rather than a player. Several prime candidates exist including Joe Vincent McCarthy, who was the winningest manager, overseeing the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig, and Casey Stengel, who managed Mickey Mantle and “Yogi” Berra during his playing days and was an eccentric to boot. Cranston’s talent as a mimic is verified and with makeup magic on his side, whether the man can look these parts is a moot question, and combined with his genuine love of the game, a baseball movie must be in the cards.
Whether or not Bryan Cranston was speaking ironically when he told Carson Daly on The Today Show, that he would love to play Donald Trump in a TV or film production, his Trump impression admittedly needs work. Should the orange-skinned multimillionaire clown calling itself Donald Trump take the U.S. Presidency, chances are his life story/autobiography will be adapted into a screenplay and optioned for production at a major studio, network, or other streaming media service. Whether or not Bryan Cranston will have the stomach to play The Donald once the pompadoured Presidential hopeful takes the reins and plunges the New World into its first Dark Ages is another story.