You may have thought that Emmy-winning Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston was a mild guy offscreen, but his new memoir includes surprising revelations about sex, a difficult childhood and a brush with murder.
Cranston’s tell-all, A Life in Parts, hits stores Tuesday, giving fans a glimpse into profound, shocking and life-changing experiences that have shaped the actor — experiences he says he drew on for his acclaimed work onscreen.
Here are some of the book’s highlights:
Cranston claims he had a stalker ex-girlfriend, who threatened to kill him
The 60-year-old actor writes of an ex he refers to as Ava, saying he was drawn to her confidence and revealing that their first date culminated in a sexual marathon. “That weekend with Ava felt like what I imagine a binge or a bender must feel like,” he writes. But the relationship, he adds, was a tempestuous one: They had huge public fights (she got them kicked out of a restaurant), he claims she had a drug habit (he once rushed her to the hospital, where she had her stomach pumped), and she allegedly wouldn’t let him end the relationship.
Thinking he had broken up with her, Cranston moved to Manhattan, where he began work on a shoot. The actor claims that Ava followed him there, evading security to get into the studio. She also allegedly left death threats on his voicemail and showed up at his home to threaten him further. It was then that Cranston claims he had a vision, picturing himself as he “slammed her head against the brick wall” until her head had been smashed in.
In reality, the police had arrived. That was the last time he saw Ava, but Cranston says he took a very important lesson from that encounter that would later translate to his acclaimed performance as drug kingpin Walter White in Breaking Bad:
“I understood clearly, without question, that I was capable of taking a life,” writes Cranston. “I think that’s true of all of us.”
Cranston was abandoned by his parents as a child
In the book, Cranston also discusses his fraught relationship with his father — a complex dynamic that he’s spoken about publicly before. His father, Joseph Louis “Joe” Cranston, was an actor who struggled to make it big. He abandoned the family when Cranston was 11, and his mother, Peggy, turned to alcohol. Eventually, Cranston and his siblings were shipped off to live on his grandparents’ farm.
The last time Cranston saw his father as a child was when his mother took him to court for her divorce hearing. There in the courthouse hallway, Cranston says, his dad punched a guy named Jimmy — a man whose wife Cranston’s father was supposedly having an affair with.
“It all happened so quickly,” Cranston writes. “And then my dad was gone.” Cranston says he wouldn’t see his father for another decade.
Cranston lost his virginity to a prostitute in Austria
In A Life in Parts also details Cranston’s first sexual experience. While a teenager, Cranston traveled to Austria with his brother and a group of his friends, where they visited an “Old World house.”
At first Cranston thought he’d be the only one left out because he didn’t have much money. But a woman later approached him. The sex, he writes was quick and straightforward: “There’d been no fireworks. No tenderness,” he writes, adding that he never even knew her name.
Cranston claims that he and his brother were briefly suspects in a murder case
The concept of murder wasn’t just a subject that Cranston dealt with onscreen. The actor says that he and his brother were briefly connected to a murder case — for two days to be exact. The siblings had worked at a restaurant in Daytona Beach, Florida, where a chef wasn’t well-liked. After they left the job, the chef went missing. Cranston claims police later determined that a prostitute led the chef to a house where he was allegedly killed.
For fans of Breaking Bad, Cranston’s memoir is an illuminating window into the actor’s psyche, as he opens up about his time as Walter White on the show and the fine line he walked playing that character — while looking into himself.
“I was murderous and I was capable of great love. I was victim, moored by my circumstances, and I was the danger,” he writes. “I was Walter White. But I was never more myself.”