In The Infiltrator, Bryan Cranston Leaves Walter White Behind
Bryan Cranston may be best known for his arresting performance as DIY drug lord Walter White in Breaking Bad, but even that intense role doesn't fully show his range. From portraying historical figures such as President Lyndon B. Johnson to Malcolm in the Middle's wacky dad, Cranston has proven he can tackle a wide array of engaging and interesting characters. For example, his latest appearance onscreen, as federal agent and general narc Robert Mazur in The Infiltrator, is pretty much the opposite of Walter White.
In The Infiltrator, directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer), Mazur goes undercover to infiltrate the drug-trafficking trade run by the notorious and dangerous Pablo Escobar in 1986. Mazur develops the persona of Bob Musella, a money-laundering businessman, to develop relationships with drug lords such as Roberto Alcaino, played by Benjamin Bratt. Tension rides high throughout the film, as Bob must be not only credible and convincing with the mobsters on the job but also the family man his wife and kids need at home. The duality of Bob, and the fact that his tale is based on a true story, is what intrigued Cranston most.
“The tension of what this duality brought to this man’s life... this guy who takes on this bravado, this machismo, is a different character. I think that’s what really attracted me [to the movie]. The story is great, about a noble man doing noble work, but I don’t think it would have meant as much if the element of humanity wasn’t so infused in the story. I think that’s what really makes the movie for us… A family man meets another another family man," he explains, referring to Bratt's character, Alcaino. "He’s not all bad, I’m not all good, and together they form a bond. And then my character needs to rip that bond apart.”
Bratt, on the other hand, found himself drawn to the film's you-can't-make-this-stuff-up screenplay. “It’s just so damn cinematic, almost like it couldn’t have ever happened,” Bratt says.
Like Mazur, Alcaino balances his home life and his career — with an affinity for luxury. “[Alcaino] was a very worldly fellow, with a large appetite for all the finer things in life, and that speaks to a kind of sophistication that you don’t find in the common criminal," Bratt says. "I wanted to try to capture what would seem to be like an inherent elegance in him so that it could be believable.”
Also believable: the '80s vibe of the film, which had both actors reminiscing about their own fashion disasters back in the day.
“It was Miami Vice time,” Cranston recalls. “It was the pastel T-shirts and the shoulder pads and the Flock of Seagulls hair... I was kind of rocking it.”
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