Multiple Emmy Award winner returns to series work on Showtime
When you’ve played one of the most iconic characters in the history of television drama, finding a follow-up can be daunting.
Such was Bryan Cranston’s challenge after wrapping his run as “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White, which earned him four Primetime Emmy Awards. He made the streaming show “Sneaky Pete” after that, but he returns to the cable world as a New Orleans judge whose personal crisis could derail his professional life as Showtime’s “Your Honor” starts its limited run Sunday, Dec. 6.
Also an executive producer along with “The Good Wife” and “Evil’s” Robert and Michelle King, whom he says “really have exceeded my expectations,” the friendly Cranston explains that he “just felt that I needed to stay away from television for three years. I went and did theater (winning Tony Awards for “All the Way” and “Network)” and movies, because I felt that Walter White and ‘Breaking Bad’ needed to calm down a little bit before I could enter that medium again.
“Characters that have faults and issues are what attract me most,” adds Cranston. That you can see the cracks in their foundations, but they attempt to make improvements, is what I think is the key. Who can relate to perfection? Being real, being authentic and trying to be a better person is what draws empathy.”
A 10-episode adaptation of an Israeli series, “Your Honor “sees Cranston’s Judge Michael Desiato try to cover up his teenage son Adam’s (Hunter Doohan) involvement in a hit-and-run accident. The resulting deceit comes to involve a prosecutor (Maura Tierney, back on Showtime after “The Affair”) and a crime-world couple (Michael Stuhlbarg, who also worked with Cranston in “Trumbo,” and Hope Davis). Cast members also include Carmen Ejogo, Margo Martindale, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Sofia Black-D’Elia.
The coronavirus pandemic shut down location filming of “Your Honor” for roughly seven months — during which Cranston contracted and recovered from COVID-19 himself — and he says that break and the current climate helped the show, since the pandemic was written into the plot. Still, he allows the job has been “really challenging. We’re rehearsing in masks and/or shields, there can only be a certain number of people in the room, and the director and I are asked to be as far apart from each other as possible. If one of us goes down, we’re in trouble.”
With his memoir “A Life in Parts” recently published, Cranston reflects that if his path from the comedic dad on “Malcolm in the Middle” to heavy dramatic parts “has helped others in our profession move within our realm with more ease and less judgment, I’m beyond pleased. It really is about opportunity, and being able to do it.”