Bryan Cranston is done with dramas
US actor Bryan Cranston says this is his most fun film to date
Back in April, I visited the set of the movie Why Him? on the Universal Studios lot.
Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives was turned into a suburban house in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Christmas decorations hung from the houses.
Bryan Cranston, 60, who plays the lead, sat inside his "house" with me for our interview on folding chairs with a space heater as it was a cold day.
I asked him what the movie was about and why the title.
"I am the guy going, why him?" said Cranston.
"James Franco is dating my daughter. Enough said, really. Would you want James Franco dating your daughter? No!
"So that's the 'why him' of it."
He said the story is about how his character, Ned, goes to visit his daughter in California with his wife and son and ends up staying at her boyfriend's house.
Enter Franco's character, Laird, a billionaire with no brakes on his behaviour or filters on his speech. His life is managed by life coach Gustav (Keegan Michael Key).
Zoey Deutsch plays the daughter; Megan Mullaly is the wife. Why Him? opens here tomorrow.
Cranston described how Ned finds out about Laird, saying: "My daughter is the apple of my eye. She is going to Stanford University. We talk every day.
"She is Skyping me, and a naked man walks behind her. And to our great dismay, it is this knucklehead. They're in a relationship, and she didn't even tell us about him.
"So my character is going through a bunch of different emotions - this is not going to happen. I am going to sabotage him. I am going to crush him. And it gets to the point where he and I are battling each other."
Fast forward to November, and Cranston is Skyping me from Pittsburgh where he is shooting his next movie.
The first question was about the funniest scene in the movie.
...It became this avalanche of attention that I just had to get out of the way of, or I could get consumed by it.Bryan Cranston on how the Breaking Bad success affected him
Laird lives in an eco-friendly paperless house.
In one scene, Ned has to use the toilet and discovers there is no toilet paper. Gustav tries to help him navigate the Japanese-style toilet.
"It took us about 45 minutes to get one little section of usable material, because Keegan is so hilarious, I couldn't keep a straight face," said Cranston.
"I never lost it on any shoot, any time, more than that. I would bite the inside of my lip or my cheek and clamp down, so I wouldn't crack up.
"I've had more fun shooting this movie than any other film."
The laughs were a big reason the Oscar nominee and multiple Emmy-winner took the role.
"Ever since Breaking Bad, and we're looking at 10 years ago, I've been doing dramas.
"The offers have been dramas, dramas, dramas. I turned this movie down twice. And I started to realise, why am I turning this down?
"It is a comedy. It is the lead. It is a studio film. It shoots in Los Angeles. And I related to the man himself."
So how did Cranston charm his father-in-law?
He said: "I didn't. I gave that up quickly, and I just worked on my mother-in-law, who was actually a pretty easy mark.
"One of the first things I did, I had had my molars removed, and as a joke, I gave them to her as a present. She laughed and seemed to think that was funny, although her husband didn't quite see the humour in that.
"I will say, after a while - and it took a while - this guy once initiated a hug. He gave me a full hug and a couple of pats on the back, and it made my wife cry as it was not in his character.
"That was the moment I knew he accepted me."
Cranston explained how he has been away from television for three years.
"The success of Breaking Bad did two things. First, it put me in an arena where I have more opportunities. But also, it became this avalanche of attention that I just had to get out of the way of, or I could get consumed by it," he said.
"I needed a rest from Walter White. I wanted to let him die."
During his break, he wrote a memoir, A Life In Parts.
Said Cranston: "It encompasses the parts we play in our lives. I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a citizen, a neighbour. But also, the parts I played in my career, so it seemed natural to join them together.
"I wanted to be honest about the fact that I had a very challenging childhood. I wrote about hardships and hurdles I had to jump over. I wanted to pull back the curtain and allow fans of Breaking Bad and other shows to know what the difficulties were. I wanted to express the times we had artistic frustration.
"I don't know if I would write another book, but it was a lot of fun doing it."