The life of an actor can be a long road of one-liners and walk-on roles while you patiently wait for that big break to come along. For Bryan Cranston, his four-decade-long acting career consists of some definitive high points and some that deserve a second glance.
Many are familiar with the actor’s career defining roles as Hal in “Malcolm in the Middle” and Walter White in “Breaking Bad.” Much like his co-star Aaron Paul, Cranston served his time in the world of television commercials before becoming the multi-award winning talent known today.
In celebration of the Emmy-winner’s 60th birthday, here’s a look back at Bryan Cranston’s best TV commercials.
Arrow ‘Cotton-Ease’ dress shirt
A shirtless Bryan Cranston is nothing new for fans of his small-screen work. Heck, he even gets in the bathtub in the Oscar-nominated “Trumbo.” However, back in 1979, Cranston was in his prime and what better way to sell an Arrow “Cotton-Ease” dress shirt, than to do so while not wearing one?
Atari 2600 video game, ‘MegaForce’
It’s 1982 and video games are the big new craze. Based on the movie by the same name, “MegaForce” follows the adventures of superhero Ace Hunter. Seriously, don’t blink or you may just miss a curly-haired Bryan Cranston waiting for your silent judgement.
After a rough day of riding bicycles and answering phones at the office, Michelob sells the concept of friends meeting up at a bar to take in the sudsy goodness of beer. This is another commercial when Cranston only pops up for a second or two, so pay close attention.
One of the retro ads from Cranston’s career that seems to have gotten some traction since he became famous for his role in “Breaking Bad,” the actor does his best to sell Preparation H to those suffering from … certain ailments. Look, a job’s a job and if this was a national commercial, he probably took home a pretty penny.
The mid 1980s seemed like a fruitful time for up-and-coming actor, Bryan Cranston. By 1985, he had guest-starring roles on “CHiPS,” “Loving” and “Cover-Up” under his belt. Yeah, okay … we may not know what that last one is but here, Cranston once again dons those odd eyeglasses to shake up a bottle of salad dressing. Commercials are weird.
Sometimes an actor has to wear a skunk outfit to sell soap. Just keep reminding yourselves he was nominated for an Oscar.
Here, Bryan Cranston simply sits with a steaming mug of coffee in his hands as he delivers a monologue to camera about the great taste of this powdered substitute for half-and-half. It may be the loose tie or the subtle hint as a New York accent, but this advertisement almost makes us want to ditch creamer for good. Almost.
JC Penney Christmas
It seems that Cranston’s commercial career went on hold during the early to mid-90s as his TV career really came into its own. However, in 1996, he resurfaced in this Christmas ad for JC Penny. In just four years time, he would play Hal on “Malcolm in the Middle” and it feels like there’s a little bit of that character coming out in the above commercial.
A year before playing “dentist to the stars,” Tim Whatley on “Seinfeld,” Cranston grew a beard and sold painkillers in this ad. From powdered coffee creamer to painkillers, at this point in his career, Cranston became very good at selling products to people. Tylenol, shmylenol.
We’re not too sure how successful the TGI Fridays restaurant chain is these days. They’re probably doing fine, but in 1997, this ad hit finding Bryan Cranston sharing an excitement felt by corporate shills the country over. Once the clock hit 5pm, everyone went to Fridays. Right? That was totally a thing.
In probably his final TV commercial — a year later, he began his six year “Malcolm in the Middle” run — this 1999 Honda commercial finds Cranston playing the role of Dr. Eugene Johnson, “The Motivational Machine.”
Speaking in front of a packed crowd, the bowtie-wearing speaker delivers the helpful message of bettering one’s self … with an Accord. It is, after-all, a car commercial.