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A Life in Parts
Cover of A Life in Parts
A Life in Parts
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A poignant, intimate, funny, inspiring memoir—both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft—from Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history's most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father cast him in a United Way commercial. Acting was clearly the boy's destiny, until one day his father disappeared. Destiny suddenly took a backseat to survival.

Now, in his riveting memoir, Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he's played in real life—paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father. Cranston also chronicles his evolution on camera, from soap opera player trying to master the rules of show business to legendary character actor turning in classic performances as Seinfeld dentist Tim Whatley, "a sadist with newer magazines," and Malcolm in the Middle dad Hal Wilkerson, a lovable bumbler in tighty-whities. He also gives an inspiring account of how he prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenging role of President Lyndon Johnson, a tour de force that won him a Tony to go along with his four Emmys.

Of course, Cranston dives deep into the grittiest details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most memorable performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

Discussing his life as few men do, describing his art as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. But ultimately A Life in Parts is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work.
A poignant, intimate, funny, inspiring memoir—both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft—from Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history's most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father cast him in a United Way commercial. Acting was clearly the boy's destiny, until one day his father disappeared. Destiny suddenly took a backseat to survival.

Now, in his riveting memoir, Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he's played in real life—paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father. Cranston also chronicles his evolution on camera, from soap opera player trying to master the rules of show business to legendary character actor turning in classic performances as Seinfeld dentist Tim Whatley, "a sadist with newer magazines," and Malcolm in the Middle dad Hal Wilkerson, a lovable bumbler in tighty-whities. He also gives an inspiring account of how he prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenging role of President Lyndon Johnson, a tour de force that won him a Tony to go along with his four Emmys.

Of course, Cranston dives deep into the grittiest details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most memorable performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

Discussing his life as few men do, describing his art as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. But ultimately A Life in Parts is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work.
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About the Author-
  • Bryan Cranston won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Walter White in AMC's Breaking Bad. He holds the honor of being the first actor in a cable series, and the second lead actor in the history of the Emmy Awards, to receive three consecutive wins. In 2014 he won a Tony Award for his role as Lyndon Johnson in the bio-play All the Way. In film, Cranston received an Academy Award nomination for his leading role in Trumbo. Among his numerous television and film appearances, he was nominated for a Golden Globe and three Emmys for his portrayal of Hal in FOX's Malcolm in the Middle. He is the author of A Life in Parts.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 10, 2016
    Though known today for Breaking Bad, Cranston played a number of roles before becoming an actor. Paperboy, biker, grocery store security guard—each chapter explores a different facet of Cranston’s personal history, as though Cranston were teaching another actor how to play him onstage. Deeply personal from the outset, Cranston walks readers through his early aimless years, his moment of Zen inspiration to be an actor, and the obsessive hard work on the soap opera Loving, during which he was also dealing with the fallout from an abusive relationship. Cranston discusses his later success on Malcolm in the Middle; Breaking Bad fans, of course, will fly straight to Cranston’s chapters on script changes made behind the scenes and the reasoning behind Walt’s underwear choices. But the way in which Cranston’s simple, staccato prose invites readers to empathize with every “character” he’s played elevates this autobiography to more than just a look behind the scenes—it’s a look behind a life.

  • Kirkus

    The star of Breaking Bad debuts with a collection of memories and ruminations.Cranston (b. 1956), borrowing his title and organization (sort of) from Jacques' famous "All the world's a stage" speech in As You Like It, offers a series of mostly short chapters that focus on the roles he's played--in life, in film and TV, and on the stage. For a celebrity memoir, it's unusually humble; the author makes no real mention of Golden Globe and Emmy wins, and he shows a determined effort throughout to credit and praise his co-workers. He mentions, for example, an effective gag on one of his Seinfeld appearances that came via an electrician. His narrative flows forward chronologically, broken only by abrupt shifts of focus to his various roles. His tells us about his parents--neither, especially the father, would ever qualify for a parenthood prize--and his siblings, who have been successful in their various enterprises despite, like the author, enduring a difficult childhood. (Near the end, he enters group therapy with them.) Occasionally, Cranston pauses to talk about the craft of acting, and a few of his observations sound like "takeaways" from a performance class ("Building a character is like building a house"). For the most part, the author stresses how skill and talent are fairly pointless without a lot of hard work and thought about the character and the words. He does not downplay his failures (a first marriage did not last); nor does he deny us details about his unmoored years, which included a Kerouac-ian cross-country journey with his brother. We learn as well about the perils and inconveniences of celebrity, his deep affection for his wife and daughter, and losses (parents, others). He ends with an account of his recent stage performance as Lyndon Johnson. The highs here--and there are many--are meth-less but addictive. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2016

    Cranston, Breaking Bad's Walter White (or Malcolm in the Middle's father Hal), pens a literal compilation of the roles he's played throughout his life. We see not only the television actor but also the parts he's assumed in his family (son, father, husband), the odd jobs he's held (farmhand, lifeguard, dating consultant), and other elements that form the man he is today. The book's organization is fragmented with a new role coming every few pages, but it's presented chronologically and narrative threads connect the many roles. A disastrous elementary school role as Professor Flipnoodle in The Time Machine haunts him decades later as he prepares to play Lyndon B. Johnson on Broadway. His relationship with his alcoholic mother and absentee father influence his marriage and his parenting. Cranston has led an exciting life, but fans of his biggest roles will be disappointed. His focus on Malcolm in the Middle is largely on Hal's shenanigans and it's a good 250 pages into the memoir before we come to Breaking Bad. His Oscar-nominated turn as Dalton Trumbo barely fills a sentence (whereas Seinfeld dentist Tim Whatley is given a whole section). VERDICT Recommended for people who are more interested in the actor's life than a celebrity tell-all.--Terry Bosky, Madison, WI

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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