After a lifetime of being told what to do, how to feel and where to stand it’s not hard to understand why actors decide to step behind the camera and direct. While at the Oscars actor-directors have been somewhat successful in gaining directing nominations, like Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”), it’s harder for actors to break through at the Emmys in the directing races. But Bryan Cranston is not just any actor, he’s an Emmy darling and one of television’s most popular and respected stars looking to receive his first directing bid for his new Amazon drama “Sneaky Pete.” Should Cranston earn a bid he would be the first actor nominated in the Best Drama Directing category in 16 years after Steve Buscemi for “The Sopranos” (“Pine Barrens”) in 2001.
“Sneaky Pete” stars Giovanni Ribisi as the titular character, a con-man on the run from a vicious gangster (Cranston). Pete assumes the identity of his cell mate and reunites with his estranged family of bounty hunters. “Sneaky Pete” is Cranston’s brainchild, as he serves as its co-creator (with David Shore), as an executive producer, and as one of the co-stars. For its first season, he directed the eighth episode, titled “The Roll Over,” in which Ribisi’s character must convince the team to con back the money from the person who ripped them off.
Cranston first broke through for the sitcom “Malcom in the Middle,” earning three Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Supporting Actor (2002-2003 and 2006). While starring on that comedy, he also directed several episodes. Cranston will forever be best known as Walter White from “Breaking Bad,” winning four Emmys for Best Drama Actor (2008-2010 and 2014) and two as a producer for Best Drama Series (2013-2014). While his performance was earning him accolades, Cranston kept directing everything from “The Office” to episodes of “Breaking Bad” and “Modern Family.”
While the directors in the TV academy can be snobs Cranston is not a complete unknown entity in the field. Cranston is a past three-time Directors Guild of America nominee: Best Comedy Directing for “Modern Family” in 2013 (“Election Day”) and in 2014 (“The Old Man & The Tree”) and Best Drama Directing for “Breaking Bad” in 2014 (“Blood Money”). Since Cranston has recently been singled out amongst his peers in the directors guild, breaking through at the Emmys is strong a possibility.
Cranston shrewdly was not submitted in the Best Drama Supporting Actor category, meaning if he’s going to be recognized for “Sneaky Pete” his only individual recognition can come in the Best Drama Directing category. This is a move that the directors branch may respect as he’s not trying to rack up as many nominations as he could’ve possibly achieved. Also helping Cranston is he only appears briefly in two scenes at the beginning of the episode “The Roll Over,” allowing his work as the director to shine.
Timing could not be better for Cranston to attempt to crack the Best Drama Directing lineup as “Game of Thrones,” the past two-time winner, is ineligible as it will not be airing episodes during the eligibility period. “Downton Abbey” also competed last year for it final season, which leaves some spots open in the Emmy race. Will Cranston take one of those directing slots this year?
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