Bryan Cranston Talks ROCK OF AGES, DRIVE, JOHN CARTER, Reveals He’s Writing and Directing HOME AGAIN and Says He Almost Did X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

     August 12, 2011

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Yesterday I was on the Toronto set of Sony’s Total Recall remake.  While everything on Recall is embargoed until closer to its 2012 release date, we’ve been given the all clear to post what the cast said about their other projects.

During a group interview with Bryan Cranston, he talked about his role in director Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages, how he got cast in director Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive, his role in director Andrew Stanton’s John Carter, and revealed that he’s planning on writing and directing author David Wiltse’s Home Again as a feature film when he can fit it into his schedule.  In addition, Cranston told us that he almost played Kevin Bacon’s role (Sebastian Shaw) in X-Men: First Class. Hit the jump for more.

Regarding Rock of Ages, Cranston says he just wrapped on the project and he sings:

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” as a medley with other singers.  In the musical, he plays “Catherine’s husband who is the mayor of Los Angeles, and somewhat corruptible.”

On writing and directing Home Again by David Wiltse, Cranston says:

“I wrote something that I adapted from a novel that I handed to Mark Johnson, our executive producer and a feature film producer, and he loved it so he said, “Let’s do this.” So I’ll direct that, maybe next year, it depends. I don’t know where Breaking Bad is gonna fit into this, I know we’re gonna go at least one more year, but I don’t know when we’ll start.”

He went on to tell us he’s planning on changing the title. On the subject matter, Cranston said:

“it’s basically a very strong father-son story and a murder mystery. An FBI agent who suddenly quits the department and takes his son and his wife and moves back to his hometown of Cascade, Nebraska to rekindle family values and pay attention now because he’s been working for the FBI for so many years that he’s been home sporadically, and his son is now 16, very sensitive, and looks upon his father like sort of a stranger, “I don’t know really how to behave” and “Mom and I have gotten along fine” without him and now there’s this presence, so there’s all that going on. And then there’s a murder that happens in the little town that they move to which kills his whole stance on, “Things are better in these small towns!” Things unravel, and basically the father and son come together at the end and save each other emotionally and literally.”

breaking-bad-character-portrait-bryan-cranstonWhile I’m excited to see Cranston’s take on the property, the thing that really surprised me during the interview was that he revealed he almost played Sebastian Shaw in X-Men: First Class.

“I read for the Kevin Bacon role in X-Men: First Class, and it was like “Oh yeah, that’s a possibility,” and then there was this thing happening over here.”

While I think Bacon did an excellent job with the material, it’s fun to wonder what Cranston would have done with the role.  What’s also interesting about this reveal is very rarely do actors talk about what roles they almost got, and he went on to talk about that he was offered a different role but ultimately ended up doing Drive instead.  As someone that has seen Drive, he made a wise choice.  It’s one of my favorite films of the year.

Here’s the full Q and A.  Cranston also talked about why he isn’t in Gangster Squad, how he got attached to Drive, John Carter and more.

Is there one project in Hollywood that you’re not attached to at the moment?

Cranston: Gangster Squad (laughs). Yeah that was disappointing, but this is how these things work out. You can’t imagine what it means to me to be able to have this opportunity to be able to do these great projects and go from one terrific story to another, whether it’s science fiction or 80’s rock fantasy or whatever. It’s just fantastic; I’m in a whirlwind. So when things like that happen that are scheduling snafus, then you just go, “Oh well, it wasn’t mine to have.”  I just came up from Miami, I finished a movie called Rock of Ages and that’s gonna be a lot of fun. Great 80’s anthem music, rock and roll. Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, I mean it was a great cast, we’re singing and having a blast.

Do you sing in that film?

Cranston: I do.

What’s your song?

Cranston: I sing “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” It’s kind of a medley with other singers. Mine’s really more of a cameo role, I play Catherine’s husband who is the mayor of Los Angeles, and somewhat corruptible.

drive-image-ryan-gosling-bryan-cranstonCould you talk about working on Drive?

Cranston: I read for the Kevin Bacon role in X-Men: First Class, and it was like “Oh yeah, that’s a possibility,” and then there was this thing happening over here. It’s kind of like things coming up like materials and projects that are coming in and out, because quite often it’s almost like a wave, “Oh here it comes, oh no that wave didn’t break. Why? Funding went this way, the lead dropped out, any number of things can happen. Or the studio said it’s too much money, so projects ebb and flow all the time. The same thing can happen in an actor’s career, there’s interest and there’s ebbing and flowing all the time (laughs). It’s like, “You have the offer, oh no you don’t!” (laughs). So that was happening, they offered it to Kevin, [and] they offered me a different role in it. At the same time I read Drive and I thought, “Oh, this is what I’d rather do.” So I turned down X-Men for the role in Drive, because I just liked the character much better. That experience with Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman and Carey [Mulligan] was terrific, we had a great time. What was so much fun about it, is that we’d go over to [director] Nicolas Refn’s house in the canyons, and we’d all get together with the writer and we would pitch out ideas and thoughts, “What about this? What about this?” There’s nothing more satisfying than to have your thoughts and comments welcomed and incorporated in the script. You really feel ownership and a part of that, you’re not just a hired hand coming in, doing your job, and leaving. And Nicolas took a really film noir, European feel to it, it’s really hip and cool. So that comes out soon.

John_Carter_movie_posterTalk a little bit about how you got involved with John Carter.

Cranston: That too was about the script. I met [director] Andrew Stanton early on, and he really wanted me for this role—it’s a small role. My agents want me to stop saying this, but the way I feel is it doesn’t really matter to me the size of the role, what matters is the quality of the script and the kind of role that it is, is it a pivotal role? I worked one day on Little Miss Sunshine, I was the book agent for Greg Kinnear, and everybody was saying, “Why are you doing that?” and I said “Because this script is really terrific, really good.” And I went out and I pitched Jonathan and Valerie, the directors, I said, “I have a take on this I wanna pitch to you,” and they said, “You know it works one day?” and I said, “Yeah!” (laughs). They go, “Okay what’s your pitch?” and I said, “I just wanna be aloof.  I wanna counter Greg’s character, Greg needs this, he’s got to have this sale or else he’ll feel like a complete failure in his life, and I wanna compound his problem by having ‘Hey, we’ll get ‘em next time,’ not taking him seriously.” We did one take where there’s a girl swimming in a pool and I never take my eyes off her. It was fun, it was just one day, I had three little scenes. It wasn’t a good movie, it was an important movie, and so John Carter was that kind of thing too. Although it was a little more involved, we did some green screen, we shot in London for a week and a half and we shot in Utah for a few weeks, a lot of outdoorsy stuff. And then I got to look like General George Armstrong Custer. I’m just a big boy, I’m still just playing cowboys and Indians and astronaut and baseball player and all that stuff that I used to play as a kid.

I wrote something that I adapted from a novel that I handed to Mark Johnson, our executive producer and a feature film producer, and he loved it so he said, “Let’s do this.” So I’ll direct that, maybe next year, it depends. I don’t know where Breaking Bad is gonna fit into this, I know we’re gonna go at least one more year, but I don’t know when we’ll start.

Home Again by David WiltseWhat novel is it based on?

Cranston: It’s based on a novel called Home Again by David Wiltse. I’ll change the title of it, but it’s basically a very strong father-son story and a murder mystery. An FBI agent who suddenly quits the department and takes his son and his wife and moves back to his hometown of Cascade, Nebraska to rekindle family values and pay attention now because he’s been working for the FBI for so many years that he’s been home sporadically, and his son is now 16, very sensitive, and looks upon his father like sort of a stranger, “I don’t know really how to behave” and “Mom and I have gotten along fine” without him and now there’s this presence, so there’s all that going on. And then there’s a murder that happens in the little town that they move to which kills his whole stance on, “Things are better in these small towns!” Things unravel, and basically the father and son come together at the end and save each other emotionally and literally.

For what Bryan Cranston said about Breaking Bad season 5 and beyond, click here.

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