For many of the people that come in as Breaking Bad virgins, before they can even process how amazing the show is, they have to adjust to the fact that the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle is this insane, ego-maniacal high-school teacher turned meth manufacturer. It’s a shock to the system for the first few episodes, though it doesn’t take long to forget that Malcolm in the Middle ever even existed. But how did Vince Gilligan even know that Bryan Cranston had that kind of range?
Gilligan will tell you that it was from working with Cranston on X-Files, but the truth is, Bryan Cranston has always exhibited extreme versatility. You could tell as far back as the mid-to-late 1980s in Cranston’s choice of terrible, cheesy commercials. Who else could play a swill-drinking douchebag in one spot, and turn right around and play a very serious scientist who knows the solution to your itchy anus woes?
Bryan Cranston, people. He’s ALWAYS been gifted with unlimited range. Check out the evidence.
Carnation Coffeemate (1988): Here, Cranston is a mild-mannered, charming tousled-hair office drone casually talking up the benefits of disgusting powdered creamer. I almost want to buy Coffeemate, and Coffeemate tastes like toilet bowl residue.
Deep Woods Off! (Year Unknown): In this commercial for the bug killer, Cranston plays a zany airport employee attempting to direct a plane to the runway, but is unable to do so because a bug keeping biting at him. The way that Cranston waves those arms around is MESMERIZING. Are their Emmy Awards for commercials, because Cranston deserves ALL of them for this performance.
Shield (Year Unknown) — It took me a minute to realize that the skunk costume that Cranston’s character is wearing in this soap commercial is metaphorical, and that he’s not actually like a skunk mascot or something for the Detroit Stinkies. That’s how good Cranston is. I BELIEVED him as a skunk.
Preparation H (Early 80s) — Amazing! Cranston seamlessly transforms from mild-manner husband, office worker, and skunk mascot into a convincing scientist extolling the virtues of hemorrhoid cream. I just ran out and bought a case, and my ass feels fine!
Coors Light (1987) — Then Boom! Just like that, Cranston transforms into a Coors-swilling douchebag who successfully pulls off the sports coat with the rolled-up sleeves look. GENIUS.
JCPennys — The most mindblowing commercial, however, involves Cranston’s transformation into a “highly paid fashion model” pimping JCPenneys suits. And you know what? For 30 seconds, I BELIEVED HE COULD BE THAT PERSON, and that it was a good idea to BUY A SUIT AT JCPENNEYS. That’s the power of Cranston, y’all.