tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg April 7, 2014 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
title on a broadway house, it stopped me cold. i couldn't move. i couldn't believe it. to see this whole thing happening -- an emotional moment. you have hopes and aspirations of that something like this could happen but you never actually think it is going to really. then it does -- >> was the one person that you wanted to pick up the phone -- you did? >> it was with my wife and i called my wife and my daughter and i said, i have to show you a little picture. i took a picture of that and i sent it to her. you're kidding me. my wife is screaming and my daughter is laughing. to them, i am just a goofy guy who lives at home. and you were seeing a guy above the marquis -- the marquee. >> bryan cranston makes his broadway debut playing president
>> here at the entrance and we have going backstage. here we have some props that i want to show you. his favorite drink. that is all he needed. >> people forget that lyndon johnson was the guy who put this stuff in the white house. >> he did. he told nixon, he said, you would need this because you were going to forget what people tell you in private. he considered a recorded phone call private. [laughter] make sure they tell you in person -- and for the memoirs. he planted that seed. maybe he is right. i wanted to show you something. these are my your loads -- my earlobes. this onne is left. i put them on with glue. i can't see what i'm doing.
>> that's good. >> it gives me a neck strap -- an extra. >> they just hang there. >> it's like i am wearing heavy hearings -- earrings. would you like to try them on? >> this is the phone. >> remember these? the old rotary dial. andave 20 different actors we have like 38 different characters so people have taken on and off waves all over the place. it is a madhouse back here during the show. >> jack kennedy would never wear a hat and johnson wore a cowboy hat all the time. >> you looked right in a cowboy hat. it is a very dangerous thing for a president to wear any kind of hat -- remember michael dukakis? he lost the election right there.
>> it looks like this doesn't belong. >> i remember candidate obama was given a sober arrow -- a sombrero. he hands it off. that's an election killer. >> went to be done cuter before this -- when have you done theater before this? befored two plays "malcolm in the middle" and before "breaking bad." >> you're always anxious to come back. >> if you get a play that resonates within you and make sense and seems challenging, that is what you are looking for. >> we sat down for an extended interview about this role and his career. you finish "breaking bad" and you were on top of the world. why this? why lyndon johnson? on broadway for bryan cranston? lookshink any actor
towards doing broadway as the pinnacle of their career and i certainly had it on my death of list -- on my bucket list. to be able to do a broadway show, that was pretty exciting for me if that was possible. the zeitgeist of "breaking bad" created such a fervor that it got a lot of attention and i was caught up in that maelstrom of energy. i thought, i had an opportunity. so i knew after 14 years of doing television, seven would knock him in the middle and six with "breaking bad" that it was time to push away and step away from that ubiquitous nature of television. and hide out, so to speak, in the theater. do a play that was hopefully important and a character that i can sink my teeth into. this was both of those things.
>> how much did you know about lyndon johnson other than the fact that during vietnam he was the president? interestinghe concept is that for most people when they think of lyndon johnson they think of the failures of vietnam. that is his legacy. here we are in the 50th anniversary of the first -- of the first year of his presidency -- >> this play is about. >> the first year of his presidency. andink it is credible important to be able to revisit that legacy. not in a store cold -- in a h istorically way, but to say what with the cobbler spends -- what were the accomplishments? >> it is important for kind of balancing of what he accomplished and extraordinary
legislative achievements and great society. diminishn't want to the unfortunate condition of the vietnam. in myyndon johnson research, i was listening to the many tapes, phone conversations, he was talking to his mentor and he was saying, i just don't see how we can win this. why are we even there? we don't have any business there. why would i send kids over there to die. for what? he was lamenting the fact that fore was no rightful place america to be involved in that war. the escalation was certainly on his shoulders. he listens to his advisors and generals and robert mcnamara and pushed forward. i think, my theory is that it was his political hubris that did that. >> political hubris.
bethat he did not want to known as the first president to lose a war. >> he said that. --he did not want to be a vulnerable to attacks by barry goldwater during the campaign of 1964 that he was weak, soft on military. scared, have the red scare come in and be a factor in that election. >> he was an interesting guy. a lot of people think he was the most interesting president after roosevelt. probably the most interesting guy to have that the office. just the largest of the personality. unbelievable. >> i think it was bill moyers who said lyndon b. johnson is 11 of the most interesting people i have ever met. he is the full spectrum of emotion. to cannot assign anyone
lyndon johnson, you have to use all of them. he is mercurial and passionate and interesting and wallowing in self-pity. brazen and funny and embracing and threatening. what partnever know of lyndon johnson you were going to receive when you walked into his office. >> the probably -- and probably depended on what his knees were -- needs were. >> the flipside of that political hubris: was unmatched -- hubris coin was unmatched. he knew everyone. everyone in the house of representatives, the senate. he knew what those senators and congressmen wanted for their own political base and needs. he gave them, he worked hard to give them what they wanted so he could get from them what he
needed. >> politics was a transaction. >> it was a beautiful thing. he loved it. he lived for it. >> love the game. >> it was brutal on him. it cost them blood sweat and tears but i think that is the difference. would rip said he your arm off and beat you over the head with it. >> metaphorically and maybe literally, too. -- you talkedgin about before as an actor how you began to get inside a character. by the end of your process, you are him. tell me -- >> in a way, yes. whenever an actor first starts a production, a play, a movie, the character is floating somewhere out there. the more research you do and the
more you allow that character to be absorbed into your being, the more secure you feel. it feels like there is a transitional period to where you got it, you are going, and it comes inside. onm that point on, you hold and you let that character live and when you read them -- the source material or comments from the director or writer about the text or your character, and then goes to that filter you created. it either sits well or not. night after night, i am trying something new. absolutely. >> give me an example of that. >> there was a passage in the play where i am manipulating hoover. >> j. edgar hoover. >> played by michael mckean. witht got off the phone the governor from mississippi
who is also named johnson. he is not doing anything about looking for these three boys, the three boys who went missing during freedom summer. i convinced the governor that i am going to send the fbi down there. nolo, no, no. better than sending down the federal marshals than u.s. army. the governor wants the fbi to look into these kids. so you're manipulating all the time. hoover says, i would be happy to, but we don't have jurisdictional prowess. i said, no, i talked to bobby about that. it occurred to me that i was probably lying about that, too. last night for the night before i said, i talked to bobby about that and indicate to my -- walter jenkins, i go, i talked to bobby about that indicating i have no idea what i talked to them about. i got a laugh.
you are constantly allowing it to stay alive. i don't think i ever really where to set in concrete no matter what happens, no matter what audience you have it at any given time, you're doing the same performance night after night. the same words but a different feeling to it. >> doesn't matter how you felt? talk abouteople actors give a different performance because they are feeling different that night. >> very true. i think it is important to be honest about that and if you are not feeling well, you may have to augment your natural performance and maybe play it under a little bit. hopefully, with the same intensity or same intention as those places but not maybe with the same volume -- >> what does the audience do differently? >> it is wonderful to be able to
feel the immediate response, even subtle gasps or push backs and their seating and they are offended by something, you can feel it. sometimes you go in for the jugular, as lindenwood if these -- as lyndon would. >> he would know if you were weak. you knew which are needed and wanted and what you were scared of. with lincoln -- and the great performance we saw daniel day-lewis who won an academy award. photographs and history books. you had robert carol who was live biography. you had people that knew him. you had video of him making speeches. there is not -- so
excuse for me to be that. it is that where you are going? >> it is a piece of cake. come on. there was this -- he is my height. 6'3". you are less than that. >> i am just at 60. >> everybody talks about that the don't even sense -- they sent the towering presence of them. how did you come up with the idea of being able to suggest that lyndon johnson physically powered over these people? >> three into lif -- three inch lifts. last night, i had another conversation with the head of wardrobe and i said, i want you wardrobe, everyone's grabbed their shoes, and take the heels of the shoes down another inch. don't even tell them -- i was serious.
take them down because the johnson treatment, that was a big part of it. he used his size and his girth to be able to intimidate. he invaded their space. he was right in there any bad people backwards. >> he was leaning back. way or hee in a good could be hoping the chest. >> it is helpful to have all that material. >> it is. ui don't have his girth. he had terrible eating habits. it just wasn't important to them. eating was a subsidence -- eating was a sustenance. i have to into lips -- two inch lifts. i have height and he with you. -- envy with you.
>> i wish i had your talent. a trade-off. >> i also have some prosthetic earlobes. i put on these earlobes and they give me a next ranch. -- an iextra inch. >> wouldn't you love to have a conversation with them? what would you ask? >> hmm. thingk the most important -- i would probably ask something that no one else would ask him or that i think no one would ask him. that would be something like a childhood memory. i would want to get into -- what your first pet? was the first thing that you ever really got so excited about? for used to be the producer
bill moyers and we did in -- interview with bill -- with jimmy carter. he just got the nomination and the campaign didn't really start. we talked about it and bill asked him about his first memories of growing up. this was almost like the n-candidate carter went back into that time and place and so the emotional charge of the interview was elevated because he had engaged. it wasn't just a political interview. it was, this is where i came from. the thing i would love to explore with them, it is the notion of where his eafear was. where was his former ability -- former ability -- vul nerability. it would show you the balance
between insecurity and overconfidence. >> his mother who he admired and loved but was also very strict for the time. she was the disciplinarian and the top one of the family -- the tough one of the family. there were times when he would withhold affection from young lyndon it she was displeased with his behavior or grades for whatever the case may be. be like you will -- would almost be like he wasn't in the room, like he was invisible. to a young boy, that created and an extremess desire to be loved. that is what i found to be the emotional core of lyndon johnson. >> that needed to be loved. absolute,d, the
desperate desire to be loved. >> the interesting thing is that people say, i didn't necessarily like him but i love him. i knew beyond all this stuff -- the ends justify the means. d was so- the en valuable and altruistic and important, but the means that he got there were treacherous and unapologetic. he would just take your nose and rub it into your own fecal matter. he would just -- oh, my god. he was an -- unbelievable. >> lbj was charming and winning -- witty. violent and vile, kroll and utterly terrible.
is there any link here between walter white and lyndon johnson? the strains of personality, one real and one fictional. >> walter white israel -- no, lyndon johnson was real, too. >> walter white became real and many people's minds. >> he was real to me. i can't play someone unless you make him real. yeah, there are similarities. i think both had created and the incredible drive and ambition to be unleashed. >> the ends justify the means. walter white saving his family so he can do whatever he wants. >> it is for my family and for lyndon johnson it is for the betterment of the country. i am cutting your balls off of
the betterment of the country. it was necessary to protect the country. listen to this. talking to ms. taylor -- to his tailor. your father is the one that makes the clothes? >> yes, sir. >> you-all may me some real, that he madeslacks for me about six months ago. it is kind of a light brown and light green, salt green and salt brown and real lightweight. i need about six pairs for summer wear. >> i want to make sure we get them right for you. >> wouldn't you have the measurements of their -- meas urements there? i could send you a pair. inches ofor three
stuff left back in there so i could take them back. 2 and ae me at least half inches in the back. make the half inch bigger in the waist. make the pocket at least an inch longer. my money and the knife fall out. knife in the- the money comes out so i need at least another inch in the pockets. wherenother thing, down your nuts hang is always a little too tight. give me an inch so i can let out there because it cuts me. it is like riding a wire fence. these are the best i have had anywhere in the united states. when i gain a little weight, they cut me under there. leave me -- you never have much margin. leave me about an inch about
where the zipper ends. under my bunghole. so i cnaan let it out. >> there you go. >> this is the president of the united states talking. >> talking to his tailor. >> you can tell he is eating and drinking. he is doing three, or five things that one time when she always did -- he always did. he got involved in every little detail. the measurements -- you wanted an inch more deeper in his pockets. time -- so my the pocket knife does not fallout. the president of the united states carrying a pocket knife. you never know when i would have to whittle. [laughter] i would have to cut his budget. here is what we are going to do.
>> how did you get the voice? >> going down seville country helps a lot -- going down to the hill country helps a lot. ."opping the "ing", >> no "ing" on it. >> you get the hard r of the mid west which is different from the soft r of the south. it was a twang to it. git going. >> do you do this on her own spurs this through someone who understands dialect? >> i do it on my own in that we expert who helps you pick up our words -- cuts a
word short. it really helps. just being open to it and listening. >> tell me about the satisfaction of being here, being on stage, having a new audience every day, having a chance to mold it and shape it. >> it is deeply gratifying. this is my joy. i love to act. i love to come to the theater. a day off is great for rest. >> you don't speak on chaos? -- on day offs? >> not on mondays. >> it would be a better view of who had this on monday. i look forward to coming to the theater. >> when do you come? >> i am here in our and a half lly people get
here half an hour before. i am the first one here. i take my time. i thought my own makeup on and my years -- ears. >> had he done that are always? >> on this show. on film and television, you have people doing that for you but you are there much or earlier -- much earlier. for walter white, i'm usually in the makeup chair in -- at 6:00 in the morning. >> those are my hours. >> i know. we are simpatico. have good things happening later in life. you were 51 before you started raking that -- "breaking bad." >> i think it helped. i know that this business owes me nothing. this life owes me nothing.
everything that you're able to achieve is a gift and i never forget that. careers -- there are acting careers that sometimes go nowhere. i have no idea why this happened to me. i love it. i am always involved in it. there was a tremendous amount of luck that is necessary to have a successful career. >> does painting change things? >> yes. in many good ways and many not so good ways. i don't seek fame. it is a byproduct of what i love to do. the good things -- first of all, financial security. i never have to work another day in my life but i don't work for money anyway. i have people who are incentivized to have me earn a good living. [laughter] i trust them.
i don't even know what i am making doing this play. >> you really don't? >> i know the ballpark. contract -- i don't read the contract. i say to my agent, are you happy? if they go, well, i think we can get more then try to get more. i don't want to sound like i need money. money is great. i have had none and having it is much better. it is not what motivates me. >> there was a time in your life in which you like to go out and all and -- go to the m just see how people are. get a sense of things that might be tools to use. >> that is an active job. -- actor's job. if you areg actors,
bored ever, you are never doing enough work. what can i do if i'm not acting? work, work, work. you can go to an airport or restaurant or a mall and you observed human behavior. you take it in. at that couple is silently arguing. how fascinating to watch them not say a word but you know -- andifference between men talking to men and women talking to women. man and then and a energy that changes with the flirtation she may be chilling -- you may be showing or not. it is all human behavior and new matter what the condition, you could be working. the interesting thing about fame -- i was talking to david the covhny. -- du once the observer becomes the observed, your cover is blown. their behavior changes.
if i am recognized, they changed their behavior and all bets are off. and makes it harder and harder for me to do that. >> somebody told me a great acting coach would ask young actors to walk around. since they were ticked -- thinking about walking, they would think they were being observed. they would have a consciousness . they would ask them to think about something else. once they began thinking about something else, didn't have the sense of being observed. the walk would change. it became more natural. >> that is why you go onstage, you have to have a thought of what is my objective for this? what is just happening? what do i need to do so you are not thinking how am i sitting? how am i --- otherwise become self-conscious and you would not do in your
and that we've seen "breaking bad" and all the success that i was lucky enough to be a part of. >> in the final episode. >> the second to last episode. >> for us it is always been signs first -- science first -- >> would you go back, please? there. >> what this? charityyesterday, your announced a $28 million grant for drug abuse treatment centers throughout the southwest. >> the southwest is our home and we cannot just ignore what is going on in her own backyard. >> there are people who suggest other motives. the new york times wrote a column suggesting that the grant was a kind of publicity maneuver
to shore up the start price -- the stock price because of your association with walter white. >> that is not exactly -- >> to cleanse yourself of having a methamphetamine kingpin as cofounder of your company. >> i'm glad you brought that up. i have to believe that the investing public understands we are talking about a person who was there early on but let virtually nothing to do with the creation of the company and growing it to what it is today. >> what was walter white's contribution? >> to be honest -- >> the company name. >> you are. it's -- your parents gave credence. to gay people the sense that this is real. >> this was so huge.
i never seen anything like it in terms about people took note of the fact that something you associate with "breaking bad." you understood that. you look back at that experience and obviously it shaped your life. >> i knew when i read that pilot script by vince gilligan at there was something very special. >> that good of a script? >> it was terrific. i related to this man. i knew men like cam who missed -- like him who missed opportunities and or lives -- in their lives and became functioning, still functioning, still loving to their families, still paying their bills but there was something that died in the interior. they are putting one step in front of the other. they are in a deep depression and in doing some of the research, i found in broad strokes, when people are in deep
depression, there are two basic ways it manifests -- either externally or internally. that boss, he, screwed me and otherwise my life would be completely different. ready to blame my ex-wife. >> somebody else's fault. >> or it is me and i missed it. i go into a shell. that was walter white. he went into a shell. he didn't care about his looks, his weight, his clothes. he was invisible to himself and the world. this ironic diagnosis of his get outcer was of jail for free card. it exploded his emotion. >> it gave him purpose to live. it was just for a short time. i loved it.
it was for me. i was good at it. that was the brilliance of vince's writing to have him confess to that hubris, that ego. full maturation of that character. that he came to completely understand who he was and the evil that he did. >> your father was one of those men, just physically. >> i always thought that walter white was much older than he was chronologically. sloped soo give him -- shoulders and his posture was bad. he was a little overweight. thented to give him weightiness of a man who was 25, 30 years older. my upbringing was a mess to be honest. it was a mess.
it was like living two different lives. up until 10 years old, it was a model life. >> they were both there. >> my dad was always one of my coaches in sports. was the team mom and the tupperware lady. always making our costumes for hollow wean. active, active. when they realized they didn't want -- might dad didn't want to be with my mother anymore and split up, it exploded. it wasn't like coming to an understanding. and their emotional damaged the rest of the structure. i didn't see my father for 10 years. >> no phone call, no nothing? >> didn't see him. he had a breakdown.
he was 48, late 40's. >> was about success? >> it was about the lack of success. it was about the frustration of not -- he was an actor. it was about his frustration of not being a star. he wanted to be a star. like a lot of people. he didn't handle it well when he was getting to be a certain age. i am sure there are complications that are much deeper than that that i wasn't privy to. he was of a generation where revealing those inner thoughts, men would rather go to the grave than admit what they considered weakness. say, i felte to this and -- nearing 90 --e is
>> he has seen everything that happened to you? >> he just seen it all. >> all of us want to say, i did ok, dad. >> and he is extremely proud. extremely proud. he has changed. as men do, tough guys soft and with age -- soften with age. he cries openly now. >> what is interesting about lyndon johnson -- lyndon johnson to went back to the texas hill country after saying he would not run for another term started smoking again. he knew he was mailing -- nailing a nail into his coffin. what was that about? >> he was a great prognosticator. he knew he was going to die of a heart attack. yard he had two heart attacks.
he did. 64 years old. which is young. >> absolutely. he knew he was going to die so it was like courting death. >> maybe that is why he thought, to hell with it. it is going to happen anyway. had he run for reelection and won in 1968, he would've died three days after his term would've ended. he died in january of 1973. but, if he were elected to a second term, i think he would've died in office and so did lady bird johnson. wayamount of stress and the vietnam was rolling out, he just was not capable of commanding that war. he was not able to know how to
end that war. >> when you think of what that meant to the country, that tore the country apart. because he hated it had his drive -- his drive was to do something about education and poverty and all those things that roosevelt wanted to do, is great political mentor. >> and he did. >> you would hope in a case like that somebody -- if we are on a place -- at a place where we are doing the wrong things whether it is instructive or not -- a destructive or not. >> linden was addicted as well. he didn't read. he never read a book. he didn't go to the theater, concerts, sporting events. >> he went to baseball to court
richard russell. >> his arena was politics. the only books he ever read were biographies of presidents that he admired. politics andine of he had true, good, altra stick intentions -- all true mystic -- intentions. his accomplishments domestically are unparalleled from roosevelt. >> is that why the people who loved him loved him? and they knew however despicable he might be in terms of personality, that his heart in the end was in the right place. >> he got things done. >> which brings me to the president obama comparison. if only the president was more like lyndon johnson.
, you would be able to do more with the republicans in the congress. >> i think that is unfair to our president. >> so to see. >> i think it is unfair to say that. i think there are two distinct theerences that don't allow system to work as it did in johnson's day. one is our president's own past experience. he did not have the years in the house of representatives and the senate that johnson had. had 12 years in the house, 12 years in the senate, rose to the most powerful position in the senate before taking on the vice presidency. he knew all the players, knew everything about them, knew their lives, would be able to break the ice.
we need to get that bill. he would catch them. he just complement my wife and now i have to help him. president obama has the experience. he didn't have all those years. the second thing -- i don't think the temperament, the attitude and the sensibility in johnson's days -- and this is just my opinion -- was this is politics. it is a horse trade. if you want to get something that you really need and want for the betterment of the country, it is going to cost you. >> you do something for me. >> blood, sweat, and tears to get that done. >> now, it is ours folded -- arms folded. we are not even going to complement the other side. >> it is a zero-sum game. >> yes.
i think the wrong point of view is applied. i think in johnson's day, the intention was let's do something for the betterment of the country. now, it is let's win. we are doing something to win for our side to win. is that best for the country? many times it is not. i think our president is unfortunate to be in this day and age, to live in that kind of cesspool of attitude. >> he knew the game but also he had majority. he also had the fact that the people wanted to do -- people one of the country to do well after the assassination of president kennedy. the other thing that is fascinating is the idea of bobby kennedy. here is a guy with all that he president ande
diminished. >> lyndon johnson hated being vice president. it was compared to the senate majority leader. why did he take it? he got trounced by kennedy in the primary and he saw the handwriting on the wall. he thought, my opportunity to get into become president is limited by age. this, you know, king arthur just came in. oh, my god. he is going to be president. he is going to be president for eight years. whoever his vice president is will have the inside track to be the next president for eight years. so up i am going to get in, i am looking 16 years down the road and i missed my window of
opportunity. i think it was a catalytic move on his part. i have to bite the bullet, except as vice presidency, bring the south with me, and bide my time. hopefully, in eight years, get the nod. >> that is why i want you to be the floor manager of this bill. >> i assume the senate majority leader -- >> i need someone more personable. people like you, hubert. even dick rustle like shoe. -- likes you. i am under a lot of pressure to announce my running mate for the election. [laughter] picke tell me i ought to bobby kennedy but i am not so sure of his loyalty. there was a time when he and the rest of his harvard blue bloods would look down their nose at me like i was some -- >> here you are on the stage. where was your ambition after this?
what is it that bryan cranston wants to do or need to do? >> i need to rest. i go pretty hard at it. it is so much fun. i am having a great time, but i think when this is over, when i finally leave the stage for the last time. i am going to collapse. your body has a tendency to hold on, hold on. it is a very physically demanding thing. i love putting it all out there. i think i just want to relax for a while and let it rest. see what happens next. >> thank you for doing this. great to see you. after school, dirty, ragged and hungry because most of them
did not have any breakfast. they were so on higher to learn -- on fire to learn, it made you feel good. they would come a day for each and every one of them where i would see the light in their eyes die because they discover the world hated them because of the color of their skin. as a southerner, i have had to bite my tongue on this issue my entire life. my mouth was full of blood. not anymore. this ain't about the constitution. wantis about those who more, wanting to hang onto what they want at the expense of those who got nothing and feel good about it. dick could talk about his rights until he is blue at the are thet all i see
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