Interview with Bryan Cranston for Electric Dreams: Human Is
The episode you star in is Human Is – what can you tell us about the story, and who you play?
We have, in Electric Dreams, some fantastical stories, mystical stories, grand scale stories of esoteric quality and eclectic viewpoints and scenery that is remarkable. Human Is is one of our more quiet stories, and I think that’s what really attracted me to it greatly – the fact that it is a story about love, and how a woman emotionally risks, and maybe even physically risks, herself in order to get love in her life. It’s a simple story and yet, as we all know, love is anything but simple. There are probably more books on love than any other subject, and it baffles us as human beings, because we think we should be able to understand it and master it by now, and yet we can’t. We cannot intellectualise love – it is emotional, and it always will be. You can’t control it. And yet we desire it – to love and be loved is a very human quest. That’s what Human Is encompasses. What are the qualities that make us human.
That’s one of the recurring themes in his work isn’t it – the nature of humanity?
It is. When you look at the body of his work, and what has since been built into feature-length films – whether it’s The Adjustment Bureau or Total Recall or Blade Runner – you see, at the core of that, are human beings. You can deal with artificial intelligence and futuristic notions, but at the core of it is human beings and how we interpret our environment and our culture and our relationship to other humans.
You came on board as an exec producer – when did you decide you were going to star in an episode as well?
We decided that right from the beginning. I thought “I’d like to act in one of these!” As the writers were coming up with their own takes on the variety of stories, I couldn’t be pre-emptive with what I wanted to do, because I wanted to empower the writers to have their own take on things. In the original short story, if the character was in my age group, the writer may change that, or may change the gender or the culture. We wanted to encourage all of our writers to use the original source material that Philip crafted so well, but to use that as a springboard to their own imagination – what else can it be? How would this story be told 50 or 60 years later? That was really exciting to us. So I said “I’ll just have to wait and see what the writers come up with to see what story I best fit into at my age.”
Were you worried that the two roles might lead to you spreading yourself a little thin?
I’m so used to spreading myself thin, that’s my normal state of mind now! But I enjoy it – I’m doing a lot - my company, Moonshot, has four productions going on. Electric Dreams is one that we’re very proud of.
Why was it filmed in the UK? Wouldn’t it have been easier for you to be in the US?
I suppose if I based my career on doing things that were easier, a lot of things would have been different. But I don’t base my career at all on what would be easier, I base it on what would be best. Or what I think at the time would be the best. It just so happened that this particular episode shot in the UK and so be it. I love the UK, so I was very happy to go there. In fact, I’m going back to the UK to do a play at The National later this year. I’m excited about it. I love the culture and the people – I feel comfortable there, and I always feel like there’s something to learn there.
As someone who has written and directed as well, were you ever tempted to take control of your own episode in this series?
I have desires to be part of every related element of the creative process. I enjoy writing and directing and producing, but it’s very, very difficult. Acting is my bread and butter, and sometimes I feel that it would be so much easier if I just acted and didn’t try to do other things. But I find them enjoyable in very different ways. And they’re all related to the art of storytelling.
Also see Bryan’s Director interview here.
October 24, 2017 1:21pm ET by Channel 4