Isle of Dogs star Bryan Cranston interview: 'I should've had an affair with Stormy Daniels in Breaking Bad'

'I thought there’d be an occasion where he could go off the rails that way'

Jacob Stolworthy
Saturday 31 March 2018 15:48 BST
Isle of Dogs trailer

Bryan Cranston agrees that Isle of Dogs is a hard sell until you learn it's the latest from director Wes Anderson, the mind behind such films as The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

"It's the same thing for an actor. It's like, 'Wes Anderson wants you? Oh right, okay, that’s all you have to say. I'm in.' "

The filmmaker's stop-motion animated adventure centres on an outbreak of canine flu in Japan, an event which leads all dogs to be quarantined on an island. This sparks a young boy (Koyu Rankin) on a journey to help the exiled pooches, one of which is voiced by Cranston.

We sat down with the actor for a quick chat about his views on the controversy surrounding the film's cultural sensitivity and the one unfulfilled desire he held for his Breaking Bad character, Walter White.

Then as an actor, you must get newfound excitement getting to discover which of his worlds you're going to be incorporated into, right?

Exactly right. He works with that core of actors who all have the same thing. Believe me, they don’t know what his next project is going to be but they’re all in because they love the experience. They love him as a person. He's very protective, he's very congenial and familial. He always organises cast dinners - he's like, 'Bring your mates, I wanna meet your spouse. Your daughter? Bring her along!' You feel like a family, you really do, and when someone makes you feel that warm and welcome - and happens to be a brilliant auteur - say no more. If Wes calls me again, which I hope he does, all he has to say is, 'I have an idea. Let's do it.' It's just that.

Are there any other people you hold in similar esteem?

There are e handful of others you would go yes to anyway. Tom Hanks is that way for me as well. I've worked on three films of his and he’s a friend and I know that he’s a man of integrity and so there is not going to be any jeopardy for me to be involved in something he’s doing. Steven Spielberg too. You still want to know what the story is and where you're going with it. And yeah, there are some things you read and go, 'I would love to be in it but I'm just not connecting with the story of the character you talked about. I may not be a good choice for you.' You can say that.

Were you ever concerned that Wes Anderson might struggle to capture the sensitivity required to pull off a film inspired by a love of Japanese culture?

No, I wasn’t concerned at all about that. He spoke often about [Akira] Kurosawa and other Japanese filmmakers with such awe and inspiration. Can one err even in the best intentions? Of course. If you do something that’s not risky at all you have no problem going about offending anyone. But if you take a chance and go into a realm that is a little nugget of something that is different, that is riskier? Yes, you could be. So I don’t know. I heard there’s a controversy but I don’t really know what it’s about or how it’s founded. I don’t go into social media myself, it’s just what I hear. But yeah, art should in some cases be very relatable so that you see a movie and go, 'I know this guy, I like him, I know where he lives, I'm very familiar,' and then there are other art forms that should introduce you to something you are not familiar with - to welcome you - and Isle of Dogs has that sense of the culture, the language. the drumming. It is an introduction to something you’re not familiar with and it adds to the fabric of the storytelling.

A Wes Anderson film that isn't Isle of Dogs. One of your films that's not Isle of Dogs. An episode of Breaking Bad - which would you pick?

Breaking Bad episode would be the first one because it was my introduction to it all. it was my opening of the window of something risky and something different - of 'What am I getting into here,' and once I'm into it going, 'Ooh, what a ride, what is going on?' That first one was eye-opening for me and filled with wonder and the unknown. As far as a Wes Anderson movie: God, there are so many. Maybe The Grand Budapest Hotel which I felt was just a perfect film.There’s so many that I could have chosen but let’s say that one for now, 'cause it’s more on my frontal lobe. Then, for my own? I think there's nobility and greatness in Trumbo. I was very happy with that film and the message that it had about community and honour and dignity among human beings, or the lack thereof.

I spoke to [Breaking Bad creator] Vince Gilligan the other week who told me you wore Walter White like a coat and were able to remove him after a hectic day of shooting. Is this true or were there moments when you struggled to detach from the character?

You use talismans - worry beads or meditation or a crucifix. We used items and implements to help us connect to things. You take off the wardrobe of that character and it’s like stripping off the mantel, the energy of that character. I'd go into the hair and makeup trailer and I have two hot moist towels - one wrapped around my face and one around my bald head like a turban that I would just sit and allow the heat and the moisture [to take its course]. It almost made me a little sleepy or dizzy, but it pulled out the dirt and slime and, not physical but maybe the emotional baggage that the character had. I would just wash my face and head completely, put on some moisturiser and my own clothes, drive my own car, call my wife and leave Walter White at the studio. The more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes.

Was there anything from the story you wanted for Walter White that didn't make it into the series?

I pitched early on that Walter should go through a whole metamorphosis from a man who was at one time very noble and dignified, a family man, a scientist in his chemistry, a learned man, and as he was going through the transition into more of an ego-driven impulsive man filled with common emotions of rage and resentment and greed and competition and all these things, I thought he should have a wild affair with some crazy stripper. Someone like Stormy Daniels, Have some crazy thing that makes no sense. It'd have been like, 'I know! I know this makes no sense!' I thought there’d be an occasion where he could go off the rails that way. He'd be so into his ego like - well, I was going to say like a bizarre Donald Trump character but it’s not so bizarre anymore. Now if you do it, it’s like [shrugs] 'Oh, it’s like Donald Trump,' It's a little derisive.

Isle of Dogs is in cinemas now

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