Bryan Cranston visits Austin for his new role as LBJ


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Posted on November 15, 2013 at 2:04 PM

AUSTIN -- “He’s dynamic, fascinating, curious, unpredictable -- everything,” Bryan Cranston said at the LBJ Auditorium in Austin on Thursday.

Cranston wasn’t referring to his character Walter White from the hit AMC series “Breaking Bad,” but his new role as the 36th president of the United States.

“All the Way,” a new Broadway show features Cranston as Lyndon B. Johnson in the dramatic first year of his presidency.

So what led Cranston to the role?

“It’s all about the writing for me. If I read something that moves me, resonates with me, makes me think, makes me active in my emotions and has a strong sense of worth to it, then I am interested,” Cranston said.

University of Texas graduate and “All the Way” playwright Robert Schenkkan describes what drew him to Cranston for such a demanding role.

“They have to be immensely charming and appealing and they have to be terrifying, and Bryan has both those arrows in his quiver,” said Schenkkan.

“I changed things up a bit and gave him a Swedish accent. No one expected it," Cranston said, laughing.

For his role in “All the Way,” Cranston actually spent time in Austin doing research at the LBJ Library and Museum.

“They left it open for me after it all closed down, and I’m the only one walking through, and that's a little ominous,” said Cranston.

He said the most powerful moment in the library was a small one.

“A letter from Jacqueline Kennedy to Lyndon Johnson about four days after the assassination, and in it, she thanked him and praised him for his courage," Cranston said.

Cranston said he hopes LBJ's courage and legacy will resonate with audiences, this time on the stage.

"All the Way" played for a month in Boston. It will start on Broadway this winter.