Part memoir, part acting manual, Bryan Cranston’s A LIFE IN PARTS is a six decade odyssey through a life that has seen him play many parts on the great stage of life.
Seemingly, Cranston had little chance of avoiding being bitten by the acting bug as, “My parents met like most people do; in an acting class in Hollywood.”, but a seminal event in his childhood almost robbed us of this thrilling thespian, a mortification during a school play.
Saying so long to to the stage, Cranston embarked on a series of employment adventures that included farmhand, beast feeder, house painter, security guard and marriage celebrant. He also embarked on a motorcycle saga with his brother Ed.
“With the Steppenwolf road anthem ‘Born to be Wild’ playing in our heads, we blasted out of California on motorcycles for parts unknown. Duration unknown. Everything was unknown.”
The description of the road trip is a blaze of excitement and culminates in an epiphany after reading Hedda Gabler in a soaked and sodden seven day deluge in the Smokey Mountains. “I will pursue something that I love and hopefully become good at it, instead of pursuing something that I’m good at but don’t love….I was going to become an actor.”
The anecdotes of auditions and castings fill the rest of the book, with the credo, “the homework doesn’t guarantee anything; with luck it gives you a shot at something real” coming into sharp relief every step of the way.
It is, however, not just his professional life that comes in for comment, consideration and reflection. His chaotic childhood and fractured relationship with both his parents, his failed first marriage, his encounter with a stalker girl friend that had him fantasising homicide, and his great good grace and fortune with his second marriage and the birth of his daughter.
Indeed, fatherhood has fuelled his performance in his latest film, Why Him?, a trope of the Meet the Parents franchise, that pretty much deserves viewing solely for his performance.
A LIFE IN PARTS is one of the most accessible, common sense, and compulsively readable actor memoirs of recent times, an erudite and articulate personification of William Shakespeare’s line from As You Like It – One man in his time plays many parts.
The memoir is dedicated to his siblings, Kyle and Amy, “We made it. A life worth salvaging.” and to his wife, Robin and their daughter, Taylor, ”You made it a life worth living.”,
Bryan Cranston’s memoir A LIFE IN PARTS is published by Orion.