When he accepted the 2019 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play, Bryan Cranston (“Network”) said that the media isn’t the enemy of the people, but that demagoguery is. He talked more about that idea to the press across the street from Radio City Music Hall after his victory. “It’s absurd to think the media is the enemy of the people,” he explained, but the more that message is repeated by certain politicians in certain Oval Offices who remained nameless, the more dangerous it becomes. Watch the actor’s Q&A above, and check out the complete list of Tony winners here.
Based on the classic film written by Paddy Chayefsky, “Network” is all about the media and the erosion of journalistic integrity. Cranston plays Howard Beale, the mad-as-hell newsman made famous by Peter Finch‘s Oscar-winning performance. And now he’s using this platform to try to counter the dangerous narratives that threaten press freedoms and many other freedoms: “The opposite message has to continue to be put out there, whether it’s diversity, whether it’s the fight against media, whether it’s women’s reproductive rights, whether it’s voting rights, it’s important to keep sounding the alarm.”
He also joked during his acceptance speech about an old white man finally catching a break in this business, and he expanded on that by saying, “I embrace and rejoice in” the diversification of theater. “It’s boring” to keep telling stories from the same points of view, and “I think this is a siren call to the rest of the country.” But “it does take more producers and investors to be able to say, ‘I’m going to put my money behind this person and this risky show.'”
As for the dramas that most interest Cranston himself, the erstwhile Walter White admits, “I seem to be attracted to really damaged characters.” Playing those roles “drains the hell out of” him, but he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon, especially not on the stage. To him, theater is “the most fun and connective” form of work an actor can do. “I love it,” he says, though he might need to take periodic breaks to recover between these broken characters.