Whether you know him as a high school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin, father of Malcolm, or Jerry Seinfeld’s dentist, Bryan Cranston is, without question, one of the greatest and most successful actors the world has ever known. With the greatest series in the history of television and/or history, Breaking Bad, recently coming to a close, Bryan Cranston put on an acting masterclass each and every week as Walter White. The magnificent depth he gave to his character, the masterful attention to detail he communicated throughout Heisenberg’s arc over the 62 episodes and the exquisitely organic collaboration he had on-screen with his fellow cast mates has no equal in the industry. Bryan Cranston is indeed Classic Coke to everyone else’s tepid, off-brand, generic cola.
So we know Bryan Cranston the actor, however, we wouldn’t have if he didn’t get the gigs he got. Where I can’t imagine Mr. Cranston ever having to read for a part again, he certainly didn’t start that way. He had to hit the audition trail just like everyone else to get where he is today. In the following clip, he gives one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever heard on audition psychology:
Although simple in concept, the practice of the concept is where it counts. I believe we should do everything in our power to embrace his audition philosophy. “You’re not going there to get a job, you’re going there to present what you do.” So simple, yet so profound.
This especially hits home for me as I’m a psychological wreck these days. After nearly two years of steady unemployment, a move to a new city where I knew next to no one, and the manufacture and distribution of crystal methamphetamine becoming a more appealing vocation with each bill collector that calls my phone, to say I’ve been “stressed” is an understatement. Returning to freelance life has been difficult for me, primarily because for a freelance musician, especially one that just relocated to a new city, every note that comes out of my bell is an “audition.”
I’ve been a wreck because I’m doing exactly what Bryan Cranston is advising against: I’m always playing for my next gig. When you perform with the added pressure that every entrance is a car payment, you’re setting yourself up to fail. I know that. I’ve known that. I just haven’t been able to get it processed correctly in my brain until I heard this simple piece of advice from this master of his craft. Will it stick and will I be able to truly embrace this audition, better yet, performance philosophy that gave the world Heisenberg? We shall see. Here’s hoping for an A-1 day.
Mike Dobranski is a professional bass trombonist, eater of good food and avid couch potato in the Seattle area. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeDobranski.