Bryan Cranston on playing a parent at a crossroads in ‘Your Honor’: ‘How do I keep my child safe?’

Bryan Cranston won four Emmys for his performance in  “Breaking Bad” as Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher with inoperable lung cancer who becomes increasingly ruthless when he makes and sells meth to help secure his family’s future. Now Cranston is breaking bad in a different way in his new limited series “Your Honor,” which premiered Dec. 6 on Showtime.

This time around, he plays Michael Desiato, a prominent New Orleans judge who goes to extreme lengths to protect his teenage son Adam (Hunter Doohan) after the boy is involved in a hit-and-run accident. Though he takes Adam to the police station so the boy can confess, Michael changes his tune when he discovers Adam has killed the son of the “head of the most vicious crime family in the history of the city.”

Before the premiere Cranston, who is also an executive producer, show runner Peter Moffat and moderator Dalton Ross from Entertainment Weekly had a zoom chat about the series. All three are fathers. Ross admitted he found himself yelling at the screen because of the characters’ questionable decisions.

“I hope you’re saying at the same time, ‘No, no, no, don’t do that,’ you’re also saying to yourself, ‘But if it were me, I would probably do the same,”’ noted Moffat. 

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“I think every person before becoming a parent feels confident in yourself and taking care of your business,” said Cranston “But once you have a spouse you have an extension of yourself that you are concerned about his or her safety. Then when you have a child, it compounds that. I had never been a worrier before in my life until I became a father. There’s a saying that once you become a parent, you wear your heart on the outside.”

Cranston maintains the premise of the series “is going to capture that level of anxiety that every parent feels about how do I keep my child safe.” The 17-year-old Adam, said Cranston, finds it hard to lie and keep a secret in order to protect himself. “The degree of responsibility that’s passed on to him by the father is extraordinary. Dad can only do so much. They both need to be allied in their resolve here to try and keep him safe”

Moffat, who was a London barrister for 20 years, noted that “one of the things about the show is that you back Michael Desiato to win here, right? He has all he tools. He has all the skills and experience to be successful in doing this. I think you support him because he’s always trying to be the good person despite the demands of the circumstances, despite having to lie all the time and do bad things.” 

Cranston acknowledged his attraction to complex and flawed characters such as Walter White and Michael Desiato. “The difference is that the decision-making was more of a protracted idea in Walter White’s case. in this one, it was instantaneous,” said Cranston. “He was forced to make a decision immediately at that moment and that decision had repercussions that he couldn’t see. I was really attracted to that dilemma that the decision-making you make now is going to have a ripple effect.  That decision was an extremely difficult one to make and on the other hand, it was the only decision he could make.”

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