Actor Bryan Cranston steps into LBJ's shoes for Broadway debut

Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:54pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After five acclaimed seasons and multiple Emmys for playing a meth-making chemistry teacher on television's "Breaking Bad," actor Bryan Cranston is stepping into the shoes of President Lyndon B. Johnson for his Broadway debut in "All the Way."

The play, which begins previews on February 10 and opens at The Neil Simon Theatre on March 6, chronicles the first year of Johnson's presidency after he was catapulted into the White House following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

It is not the first opportunity that Cranston, 57, has had to star on Broadway, but he said other plays were not quite right.

"I wanted to wait for something that had meaning, that really had resonance, that was historically important, socially important and entertaining," he said in an interview. "And 'All the Way' is all of that."

Cranston researched the 36th U.S. president, who was often referred to as LBJ, and talked to people who knew him. But he also said he tried to keep an open mind and not have any judgments about the character.

"You never know what you are about to gleam from your experiences," he said.

On his second visit to the LBJ Presidential Library in Texas, Cranston saw a letter from Jackie Kennedy thanking Johnson for taking the time to write to her children after their father's death.

"And I'm thinking within four days of taking office from a tragic experience, he becomes the president of the United States with all that implies and he took time to write letters to two little children of John Kennedy, the former president. That says something about a person," Cranston said.   Continued...

Bryan Cranston winner of the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series award for his role in "Breaking Bad" poses for photo backstage at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California January 18, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson