Thursday night at New York’s Paley Center for Media, Emmy and Tony-winning actor Bryan Cranston talked about his storied career and the making of new Amazon show “The Dangerous Book for Boys,” which he adapted for the streaming service alongside “Superbad” director Greg Mottola.
The series is based on a popular children’s book that gives advice on matters such as “The Five Knots Every Boy Should Know” and “Building a Treehouse.” Before the event, Cranston told Variety that he received the book as a gift from his “Breaking Bad” co-star Anna Gunn, and enjoyed it, but didn’t think he could adapt it when Sony expressed interest “because there are no characters and there’s no plot in the book.” “I couldn’t figure out how to crack the story, so I just forgot about it,” Cranston said.
“So then I’m running in Boston, and because I let it go and stopped worrying about it, something popped into my head and I realized the missing link, and that’s how I came up with the concept [of] the patriarch of the family,” he continued. “The father has recently died, but in the two years he knew he was going to go, he wrote the book to leave behind for his sons.”
Erinn Hayes plays the mother left behind to raise the children on her own. While the series features fantastical elements wherein the three boys read their father’s book and go on adventures, it balances the grief with comedic moments. Hayes said that the adaptation honored “a very fine line you have to walk because it’s a family show.”
“You can’t sit in the tragedy of it. That’s for drama,” she said. “You can’t just overly do the comedy of it, because then what are you doing in this show about loss? It doesn’t make any sense. I think we walked the line well, where you stood a little bit in each thing, like life.”
Co-star Chris Diamantopoulos, who plays the late father, agreed that the show managed to counterbalance the central tragedy. “Even young people can absorb the gravity of what’s happened without it being traumatizing.”
During the discussion, Diamantopoulos and Hayes talked about their worst auditions while Cranston reminisced about being fired from his first job, the soap opera “Loving.” It only took about a minute from when he entered the office, according to Cranston. He went on to tell the aspiring actors in the room that with every artistic career, “there’s a healthy dose of luck involved.”
“The Dangerous Book for Boys” is available to stream now on Amazon.