Bryan Cranston is one of the few actors who has demonstrated such versatility and sophistication. He has demonstrated himself to be a dependable friend and a decent person away from the camera, as evidenced by his complex and horrifying portrayal of Walter White on Breaking Bad and his silly, sweet-natured portrayal of Hal in Malcolm in the Middle. His acting versatility is unmatched. After all, you won’t be nominated for an Oscar, win the Olivier, and rack up the Emmys unless you’re a phenomenal performer.
His career has spanned decades, making it difficult to choose just a few of his finest acting moments, but we’re prepared to put in the effort if it means seeing them again. If you like Bryan Cranston’s work or just want to see what else he’s done, check out our list of the top 10 Bryan Cranston movies and TV shows he’s been in
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Malcolm in the Middle
He played Hal flawlessly in Malcolm in the Middle, which is considered one of the best comedies of all time. We know that Cranston and Breaking Bad are considered some of the best things ever placed on television. Cranston’s depiction of the clumsy father of a working-class family manages to blend some of the funniest moments on television (the power walking episode, anyone?), relatability, and surprisingly profound emotion. Because of Cranston’s depiction of Hal, the series deserves to be considered with classic comedies such as The Simpsons, Cheers, and Seinfeld, for which it received multiple honors during its existence.
We realize that ranking Breaking Bad, which has won several awards, at number two on our list may be met with some resistance, given Bryan Cranston and the rest of the cast’s stellar performances in the critically acclaimed criminal drama. The program received widespread critical praise and gained millions of fans across the globe in addition to its 16 Emmy wins (including four for Cranston).
After being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) resorts to crime to fund his treatment and provide for his family. Together with an old classmate called Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), he utilizes his expertise to become one of the state’s biggest meth distributors. The incredibleness of Cranston’s portrayal lies in White’s metamorphosis from a mild-mannered pushover to a hardened criminal prepared to murder to attain his goals. An impressive display of strength in every respect.
Cranston deservedly received his first and only Academy Award nomination for his role in this historical drama about the dangers of McCarthyism (and conservative America’s tendency to lose their heads anytime anything slightly left-wing is discussed). Even if the film ends on a more optimistic note, his performance is compelling and emotionally distressing.
Cranston portrays legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted along with many other Hollywood figures at the height of the Red Scare. Cranston portrays the toll everything took on the talented Trumbo, who had to forgo Academy Awards and other accolades because he couldn’t reveal he’d ghostwritten many iconic films, including those starring John Wayne as the cowboy star and all-around terrible human being. The film isn’t as successful as Cranston’s performance since he adds his typical complexity and seriousness to a challenging character.
Cranston’s portrayal as dentist Tim Whatley lasted all five episodes on the revolutionary comedy Seinfeld, but his performances stood out amid the show’s many brilliant cameos. Even though he brings the laughs in every episode he’s in, his last appearance in season eight’s “The Yada Yada Yada” is so hilarious that he manages to outshine the rest of the main ensemble, which includes comedy greats like Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Isle of Dogs
While Wes Anderson devotees undoubtedly love this lovely, humorous stop-motion picture because of the director’s distinctive, powerful aesthetic, the performances—particularly Cranston’s—are what make this movie stand out as a jewel. The star of “Malcolm in the Middle” voices Chief, the head canine of the island’s canine community, in the animated film. The same can be said of his voice acting in Robot Chicken.
He manages to convey both comedy and emotion via the use of sound alone (along with the groovy visuals, of course). Both the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Animated Performance and the Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production went to Cranston for his performance in the film.
While not every episode of the late-night cult classic Robot Chicken hits, when it does, it’s one of the funniest animated programs on TV. After all, there must be a good reason why it has lasted longer than any other series on Adult Swim. Throughout the show’s run, Cranston has played a wide variety of parts, and each one has been a smashing success, eliciting tears of laughter from the audience. The award-winning actor has voiced many characters in the Seth Green-led series, including Gandalf and the Grim Reaper, and has appeared in four episodes. You can always count on an episode including him to be a standout, no matter what his part is.
This criminal thriller, starring Cranston, had a captivating run from 2020 until 2023. Even though the program itself wasn’t well-rated, the main character’s performance was singled out as a standout. Cranston plays Judge Michael Desiato, whose son is a hit-and-run offender, in the film Your Honor. After learning that the victim was the son of a ruthless criminal lord, Michael changes his tune and tells his kid to surrender himself.
As a result, the last episode of the season becomes a riveting showcase for Cranston’s acting prowess as the two sides play a perilous and stressful game of cat and mouse. Cranston’s role was expanded upon in season two, giving him another opportunity to demonstrate the versatility that made him a Hollywood favorite. Although Cranston’s performance is what makes Your Honor watchable, the show was eventually canceled.
Power Rangers (2017)
Taking on a part in a massive series with a lot of die-hard fans is never easy, especially if that kind of role is outside of the actor’s regular expertise. Even though Cranston is a very versatile actor, he doesn’t have much experience working with superheroes. His performance as Zordon in Power Rangers, though, makes it seem as if he was born to star in action movies. Any Power Rangers fans who were worried about Cranston’s portrayal of the former Red Ranger may rest assured; the Breaking Bad actor brings true emotion to the role and is tremendously compelling throughout the action sequences.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
You may be feeling a pattern here: Cranston only appeared in one episode of Larry David’s funny program, but his performance was so memorable that he was nominated for an Emmy as the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Cranston portrays Larry David’s therapist, Dr. Templeton, in the episode “Running with the Bulls,” who chides the grumpy celebrity for crossing the line. That Cranston can deliver such a hilarious performance comes as no surprise to anybody who has seen him in other roles.
All the Way
Playing any president is a huge responsibility, but playing a president as pivotal as LBJ requires a remarkable performance. Thankfully, Cranston’s performance in this 2016 film about the aftermath of the JFK murder, inspired by the 2012 play of the same name in which he played the same role, proved he had the skills to do this and more. From the first scene on, Cranston gives the role the necessary gravity and breadth with the help of an outstanding ensemble that also includes Emmy winner Melissa Leo as First Lady Birdy Johnson. Cranston received one of his numerous Emmy nods for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his performance in this HBO production.
Every record of Bryan Cranston Movies and TV Shows
|2008 – 2013
|Malcolm in the Middle
|2000 – 2006
|El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
|2020 – 2023
|Better Call Saul
|2015 – 2022
|Jerry & Marge Go Large
|Saving Private Ryan
|Kung Fu Panda 3
|1989 – 1998
|Last Flag Flying
|Isle of Dogs
|How I Met Your Mother
|2005 – 2014
|Cold Comes the Night
|Little Miss Sunshine
|1993 – 2018
|Kung Fu Panda 4
|2015 – 2019
|The King of Queens
|1998 – 2007
|All the Way
|World War Z
|Twas the Night
|The One and Only Ivan
|1989 – 2001
|Godzilla: King of the Monsters
|Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama
|Barely Legal Pawn
|Get a Job
|Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
|Batman: Year One
|2015 – 2019
|Breaking Bad: Extras
|The Lincoln Lawyer
|Murder, She Wrote
|1984 – 1996