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Bryan Cranston: 5 Awesome Performances & 5 That Sucked

Say his name.

There's a good chance you don't know as much about Bryan Cranston as you might initially suspect: though he is now most known for two TV performances, in Breaking Bad and Malcolm In The Middle who fed off each other thanks to their fundamental - even grotesque - difference, his filmography has taken in as diverse destinations as Saving Private Ryan, Street Fighter II and Power Rangers. He didn't merely arrive at Walter White as the complete article: a cursory glance over his earliest roles in a made for TV Six Million Dollar Man movie (like fellow auspicious alumni Sandra Bullock), and bargain bin dross like Dead Space and chewy sex-slop like Erotique paints a picture of a jobbing (and probably struggling) actor bouncing through genres. It wasn't until casting opportunities like his bit-part in Saving Private Ryan that the tide seems to have turned, as the turn of the millennium brought stability off the back of some eye-catching supporting roles in the likes of The X-Files, Seinfeld and 3rd Rock From The Sun. From there, a boy called Malcolm called, and the stellar moment followed 8 years later when the chaotic middle-aged father became a chemistry teacher with an uncanny ability to make pure drugs, and memories of Amazon Women On The Moon evaporated in a cloud of dust and methamphetamine. Cranston's success has now come full circle: rather than making shoddy B-movies, and scratching a living in supporting roles, this week sees him star in the hotly-anticipated and brilliantly entertaining (if a little uneven) Godzilla remake, a supporting role that will come with considerably more presence than his early days. And with the success of Breaking Bad continuing to endure, the actor who owned Walter White's ludicrously engaging deterioration is in very real danger of becoming a phenomenon beyond even the limits of traditional acting stardom. But it wasn't always that way, and for every exceptional performance - which come into focus first - there were some questionable decisions along the way, and with the revitalising monster movie hitting cinemas, it's prudent to look at Cranston in the latest edition of our 5 Awesome Performances & 5 That Sucked column...
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WhatCulture's former COO, veteran writer and editor.