In the early 2000s, it would’ve been hard to picture Bryan Cranston as one of television’s greatest actors. Cranston had received his fair share of notoriety, sure, but his mainstream roles—from the oafish dad Hal on Malcolm in the Middle to dentist Tim Whatley on Seinfeld— were rooted in network TV comedy. But beneath Cranston’s slapstick performances lurked a more sinister character in Breaking Bad’s Walter White, the high-school-chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin who evolved into one of TV’s greatest anti-heroes. The show ran for five seasons between 2008 and 2013 on AMC, earning 16 Emmy awards in the process. To put Cranston’s impact in perspective, Breaking Bad has the Guinness World Record for being the most acclaimed television show of all time.
This success wasn’t a fluke, as the actor’s performances since Breaking Bad prove. In 2014 he won a Tony award for his role as President Lyndon Johnson in the stage play All the Way. This week Cranston released a memoir titled A Life in Parts. While the book details his decades-long path to success, Cranston has also written a bold testament to long-term artistic dedication. As Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan writes in the introduction, “If I’d known Bryan could tell stories this well, I would’ve had him writing episodes of Breaking Bad.”
Aside from Cranston’s new memoir, JDL also has many of his iconic performances. Check them out below.