"Unbelievably talented and watchable in everything he does," Bryan Cranston told PEOPLE of Jack Nicholson

By Becky Randel
February 02, 2020 02:15 PM
Mountain Dew

NFL players aren’t the only big names onscreen during the Super Bowl. Every year, A-list actors star in commercials that often receive as much attention as the game itself.

And this year, one of the biggest spots went to Bryan Cranston and his take on The Shining for Mountain Dew. But, Cranston almost didn’t accept the role.

“I love Nicholson and I love The Shining, and when I first heard the pitch – they came back to me and some of the dialogue was, ‘Maybe better than the original’ and the only concern I had was, ‘I don’t want anyone to think that Bryan Cranston is saying that I’m better than Jack Nicholson,’ ” Cranston, 63, told PEOPLE on Saturday night at the annual Big Game Big Give Party.

The Breaking Bad star further professed his admiration for Nicholson and his legendary role. “He’s a god. So unbelievably talented and watchable in everything he does. So, I was nervous about that,” he said. “They assured me we are going to make sure it was clearly a parody. So I was happy.”

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As for his efforts to avoid a direct imitation of Nicholson’s character, Cranston said, “That move when he pushes his face through the door, it’s so iconic, that ‘Here’s Johnny.’ So it’s like, ‘Was that too close? How do I do it not exactly like him, but it has to be that.’ “

Cranston also said he wasn’t able to get advice from Nicholson as the two have never met.

RELATED: Watch Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross Masterfully Recreate The Shining in New Super Bowl Ad

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Cranston co-hosted the philanthropic event with his Breaking Bad costar (and Mezcal business partner) Aaron Paul along with Bad Boys producer and director Michael Bay.

Speaking to PEOPLE about their friendship and bond after the end of their beloved AMC series, Paul said the two still talk “every day.”

“I stepped foot on the set of Breaking Bad and I started to get know this guy, I hoped that we would be friends forever. Through the years, we knew it wasn’t going to end when Breaking Bad closed its doors. I love the man to death, he’s my mentor and one of my closest friends on the planet.”

The evening’s performer was Jamie Foxx, who performed classic hits like “It’s Tricky” and “Push It” as Cranston, Paul, Scott Eastwood and more guests danced behind him. Keegan-Michael Key even joined his friend onstage for a dance.

The party, which took place at the $65 million mansion “Oasis House” on Star Island in Miami Beach, featured a silent auction with NFL and Hollywood memorabilia, a CBD-infused dinner from Charlotte’s Web and drinks from Paul and Cranston’s mezcal line, Dos Hombres.

A philanthropic award was given to Cleveland Browns star Jim Brown by fellow Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. Proceeds from the event, which was launched in 2009, raise funds to benefit national philanthropic advancement and local Miami non-profits including the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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