Back in 2016, Bryan Cranston was on a book tour for his new memoir, A Life in Parts, and my wife and I went to see him speak at the Free Library of Philadelphia. We left with an autographed copy of his book, but I only just got around to reading it; and rather than read it myself, I chose to have the author, Bryan Cranston, read it to me by listening to the audiobook. Read on for my review of A Life in Parts.
“Nothing short of riveting…an engrossing first-person account by one of our finest actors” (Huffington Post)—both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft—Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history’s most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston began his acting career at the age of seven, when his father, a struggling actor and sometime director, cast him in a commercial for United Way. By fifth grade he was starring in the school play, spending hours at the local movie theater, and re-enacting favorite scenes with his brother in their living room. Cranston seemed destined to be an actor. But then his father left. And his family fell apart. Troubled by his father’s missteps, Cranston abandoned his acting aspirations and resolved to pursue a steadier career in law enforcement. Then, on a two-year cross-country motorcycle journey, Cranston re-discovered his talent for acting and found his mission and his calling.
In this “must-read memoir” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), Cranston traces the many roles he inhabited throughout his remarkable life, both on and off screen. For the first time he shares the story of his early years as an actor on the soap opera Loving, his recurring spots on Seinfeld, and his time as bumbling father Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, to his tour-de-force, Tony-winning performance as Lyndon Baines Johnson in Broadway’s All the Way, to his most iconic role of all: Breaking Bad’s Walter White.
“An illuminating window into the actor’s psyche” (People), Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. “By turns gritty, funny, and sad” (Entertainment Weekly), ultimately A Life in Parts is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work.
Bryan Cranston is a great actor who I grew up watching as a guest star on numerous TV shows, like Murder, She Wrote, until he landed his biggest role at the time: Malcolm in the Middle.
As an adult, I was enraptured by his portrayal of Walter White on Breaking Bad, arguably the greatest television show of all time. And, now, I find myself listening to that unmistakable voice tell his life’s story.
A Life in Parts, which I listened to on Scribd, is an honest, emotional, and enlightening autobiography from an actor who has led a fascinating life, personally and professionally. Hearing Cranston narrate his book made for an intimate and profound experience. I found it to be one of the best memoirs I’ve read, and I’ve read many. If you have any interest in Bryan Cranston or enjoy autobiographies, I highly recommend it.
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