Interview: Bryan Cranston of 'Total Recall'
'Make sure you go to the bathroom before... This message brought to you by Bryan Cranston.'
Stumbling into yet another dim, dark room, you cannot help but note that Bryan Cranston is beaming with good-natured hospitality and a snappy conversational backhand. And why should he not? He's the actor with the best role on TV right now on "Breaking Bad," and even if Cranston's hearty good humor is merely the victor's spoils -- which they are not -- they would have been earned. In the Len Wiseman-directed remake of 'Total Recall", he's the big bad guy, Chancellor Cohaagen, a media-savvy madman who's engineering both the tactical planning to make a genocide happen and the marketing plan to sell it to the voters back home. Cohaagen has JFK's hair, Nixon's morals, and an 8-inch knife he knows how to use; it's the kind of swaggering bad guy part an actor like Cranston can make into a meal. We spoke in Los Angeles about the presidency, pink eye and politics.
MSN Movies: Talking with Bryan Cranston, who plays the evil president Cohaagen…
Bryan Cranston: Now, now wait a second…
Okay, well-rationalized president Cohaagen…
Thank you. Thanks for the correction.
This is a remake of a 1990's film; it's a little bit weirder, a little bit wilder, that film has its own merit, but what to you makes this version of "Total Recall" worth doing and worth seeing?
So, Philip K. Dick wrote this really terrific short story many, many years ago, and in the original you have Arnold Schwarzenegger who takes on a different -- he's a persona unto himself -- so you have to embrace that if he's in your movie and what that means to you. So to me, that original film took on a kitschy kind of fun adventure.
Every film Schwarzenegger's in becomes a Schwarzenegger film…
Yeah, I think so. This film is more closely related to the source material. It's darker, it's more intense, it's certainly a wild ride, but the justification in the beginning of "Total Recall" is that you understand the merits of what he wants to do and why and where he goes and you sympathize with Colin's character and you follow him and you root for him. And when it takes off, it's like unbelievable. It just snaps, goes, and it doesn't stop until the very end.
It's not a movie that pauses a lot to let you catch your breath.
No, you cannot leave the movie theater and go to the bathroom. Make sure that you go to the bathroom first before you sit down because if you go to the bathroom you're going to miss too many things.
This PSA brought to you by…
Brought to you by Bryan Cranston. (laughs)
Let me ask you this. Your character has this great combination of politician's hair with a boyish forelock and a great coif and a face that speaks of a life lived in the military, which your character has…
How fun is it to play juxtapositions like that? Like the corrupt politician with the great-looking Kennedy hair?
(Laughs) You know we talked a lot about that wig and I just mentioned to Len Wiseman, I said, "I just feel like…" 'Cause I've been bald the last several years in 'Breaking Bad' and my hair became non-existent, so I said, " I want to make it to where it makes a statement itself." And we were talking about the lion's mane, kind of the king of the jungle kind of feeling, and I thought that was an appropriate description.
And the creepy idea that in the 21st century, even tyrants will have to be telegenic.
So looking back, "Total Recall," "Contagion," "Rock of Ages," "John Carter" -- is it easier to list the films you haven't been in this year?
Well, it certainly hasn't been a contest for me, and there are varying degrees of success at the box office with those films and critical acclaim, or not. I look at it as a whole, and if it appeals to me -- the whole story and then my individual contribution to it -- if it makes sense, I want to jump in and be a part of it because I love the work.
How much fun was it having a terrifying knife fight with your co-star in fake pouring rain on top of a fake thousand-foot-long science-fiction structure?
Why "Fake?" What's with this fake? C'mon, it was faux; let's say faux. The rain was real! I mean it was raining on us.
It was water…
It didn't feel any different if I’m in real rain or -- it's rain! And we're working in this -puddles, 8 inches of water -- and I got a pink eye in both eyes. It was like pink eye for the bad guy. And it was kind of tough in that sense because this irritation kept hitting me, but the need to hyper focus on this orchestrated dance so that nobody gets hurt was keen to both of us. And Colin wanted to do all his own stunts, I wanted to do it, and unless ... (if) there was something that was completely dangerous I wouldn't do it. But he did all -- I mean he was bumped and bruised by the end of the shoot, doing all the stunts.
("Total Recall" opens this week.)