Subscribe
Bryan Cranston answers questions during an interview at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The actor, director, producer, writer, and author is on tour with the USO discussing his memoir and career.

Bryan Cranston answers questions during an interview at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The actor, director, producer, writer, and author is on tour with the USO discussing his memoir and career. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Bryan Cranston answers questions during an interview at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The actor, director, producer, writer, and author is on tour with the USO discussing his memoir and career.

Bryan Cranston answers questions during an interview at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The actor, director, producer, writer, and author is on tour with the USO discussing his memoir and career. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Bryan Cranston tells a story to audience members as Senior Airman Madi Sylvester, the evening's moderator from the Armed Forces Network, listens at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Bryan Cranston tells a story to audience members as Senior Airman Madi Sylvester, the evening's moderator from the Armed Forces Network, listens at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Audience members laugh during a story by Bryan Cranston at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Audience members laugh during a story by Bryan Cranston at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Bryan Cranston tells a story to audience members at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Senior Airman Madi Sylvester, the evening's moderator, listens on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Bryan Cranston tells a story to audience members at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Senior Airman Madi Sylvester, the evening's moderator, listens on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Bryan Cranston speaks during a USO tour stop at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The actor, director, producer, writer, and author is on tour discussing his memoir and career.

Bryan Cranston speaks during a USO tour stop at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The actor, director, producer, writer, and author is on tour discussing his memoir and career. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Nearly 700 audience members listen during the USO's "An Evening with Bryan Cranston" event at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Nearly 700 audience members listen during the USO's "An Evening with Bryan Cranston" event at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Bryan Cranston points to an audience member at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Bryan Cranston points to an audience member at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Bryan Cranston comforts a shy audience member at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Cranston discussed his memoir and took questions from the audience during his USO tour stop at Ramstein.

Bryan Cranston comforts a shy audience member at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Cranston discussed his memoir and took questions from the audience during his USO tour stop at Ramstein. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Actor Bryan Cranston made stops in Germany and England this week in his first USO tour, giving him a chance to get out of a celebrity “bubble” in which constant attention and ego-stroking can block one’s link to the real world.

“As you can imagine, I don’t have a lot of interaction with people that doesn’t focus on me,” said Cranston, a four-time Emmy award winner for his performances in “Breaking Bad,” where he plays Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who turns to a life of crime. “I’m bored with me.”

Gone are the days when he used to sit anonymously at the mall, quietly studying human nature to help him with his acting. But the tour has allowed him to connect again with others and learn from them.

“What I found was really fun … really kind of an unexpected treat … is that every place I went, the [enlisted personnel] and the officers, they really enjoyed telling me what they do,” he said.

At Ramstein on Tuesday, for example, he visited the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and met with explosive ordinance disposal airmen. Climbing into a C-130 Hercules and donning a blast suit were experiences he likened to being a child again.

“It wasn’t like ‘Oh, here’s a celebrity showing up and he’s going to anoint us with what he knows,’” he said. “No. We were like on an even [footing] and that was just fantastic.”

After dinner at the dining facility, Cranston took the stage to talk about himself.

But this audience of some 700 fans at the Ramstein Officer’s Club was hardly bored with him. They listened intently as he spoke about growing up in California’s San Fernando Valley, roving the country on a two-year motorcycle trek and struggling as a working actor with “survival jobs” like graveyard shifts on a loading dock.

Army Sgt. Luther Washington came from Sembach after hearing about the show from a neighbor. Holding a large, framed movie poster he hoped to have signed, he said the event was a rare treat and the “ultimate compliment” from someone of Cranston’s stature.

“Look how excited everyone was,” Washington said. “It’s fantastic.”

Billed as “An Evening with Bryan Cranston” and moderated by Armed Forces Network’s Senior Airman Madi Sylvester, the event drew from the actor’s memoir, “My Life in Parts,” and mixed comedy with a little bit of personal tragedy and some motivational speaking.

The crowd laughed and cheered as the 61-year-old acted out stories about reluctantly killing chickens as a 12-year-old, learning to rappel for a role in a candy bar spot and — as a shy college kid on his first day of acting class — making out with a pretty classmate he’d never met.

“Girls got me into acting,” he said in an interview before the show.

An audience question-and-answer session bounced from acting preparation to parenting advice to encouragement for young artists or others pursuing their passions.

Before landing the role of Hal, the quirky dad on Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle” that brought him fame, Cranston had already been acting for more than 15 years. He said he would have still been happy had celebrity not arrived, because he was doing what he loves.

Thanking the crowd of servicemembers and their families, he said seeing them energized about their own work was rewarding.

“It was fun to be up here tell you a little bit about me, and I hope you enjoyed yourselves,” he said. “But I gained so much today being with people who are excited about what they do.”

garland.chad@stripes.comTwitter: @chadgarland

author picture
Chad is a Marine Corps veteran who covers the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and sometimes elsewhere for Stars and Stripes. An Illinois native who’s reported for news outlets in Washington, D.C., Arizona, Oregon and California, he’s an alumnus of the Defense Language Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Arizona State University.

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up