Bryan Cranston is not afraid to go all out for a role; look no further than Walter White’s wrath in Breaking Bad or Hal’s myriad breakdowns in Malcolm in the Middle.
According to Cranston, pushing the limit is just part of his process for any character, including those based on real-life people like President Lyndon B. Johnson, Dalton Trumbo or undercover agent Robert Mazur in The Infiltrator.
“When I start taking on a character, I basically put it in this analogy,” Cranston tells Entertainment Weekly and PEOPLE editorial director Jess Cagle in the most recent episode of The Jess Cagle Interview. “I go out on a limb, I go way out on a limb. I ask my directors, ‘When you start to hear the limb crack, just pull me back a little bit.’ ”
The four-time Emmy winner and 2014 Tony winner says it’s all about finding a “sweet spot.”
“For me, as an actor, to figure out where the sweet spot is in that character’s performance, I have to go too far so that I know for sure that’s too far,” Cranston tells Cagle. “So then I can come back, I get my boundaries. But if I just take baby steps toward it and stop at some point, I’ll never really know if I could have gone further.”
Watch the video above for more of Cranston dishing on meeting the real undercover agent who inspired his role in The Infiltrator, and stay tuned to PEOPLE.com for more clips from his interview with Cagle. You can also listen to the full interview on EW Radio (SiriusXM Ch. 105) all weekend.