Way Back When: Bryan Cranston
Before he was “the one who knocks” on ‘Breaking Bad‘ or the lovable dad on ‘Malcolm in the Middle,’ Bryan Cranston was on your television — a lot. You just didn’t know who he was yet. In today’s Way Back When, we take a look at some of Cranston’s lesser-known small-screen activities.
Preparation H Commercial
In the early ’80s Bryan Cranston was a sharp-dressed, sophisticated man selling you butt cream. Yup, for all your painful butt-stuff needs — now with more oxygen action! Because the cure for butt-stuff is more air. Your butts need air. We’ll stop talking about butts now and let Bryan Cranston do the talking. He’s wearing glasses, so you know he knows what he’s talking about:
Shield Soap Commercial
This commercial from 1987 features Cranston as one smelly husband with some amazing ’80s hair. He’s so smelly he’s like a skunk, which is why Cranston spends the better part of the ad dressed in a giant skunk costume and scaring people off the bus during his commute home. But never fear, skunk husband! Your loving wife has discovered Shield deodorant soap, which has a special formula to keep you fresh all day long. Everyone knows that most soaps only keep you fresh for like, two hours, tops. But not this soap. This soap means business.
Carnation Coffeemate Commercial
This commercial could be so, so wrong. “One night, I was working late. I needed a cup of coffee. I knew plenty of the guys around the office used it.” A hooker? Meth?! What dastardly product do you speak of, father of Malcolm who is in the middle? Ohhhh, powdered creamer. Or cocaine. It’s probably cocaine. You know how those businessmen rolled in the ’80s. Or not. We get all of our information on ’80s business practices from Oliver Stone.
It’s 1996 and Bryan Cranston is tired, you guys. Look at that beard. That’s a desperation beard. That’s the beard of a man who has been hardened by years of selling products to you for your butt and your body smell and your fake cocaine for coffee. And he’s got a headache, you know? So he’s going to sell you some Excedrin, which just might help you get rid of a headache the size of his resume — which is really, really friggin’ long. It’s okay, Cran-Cran. You’ll be with ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ soon!
JC Penney Commercial
Bryan Cranston has lost his mind. He’s been in too many damn commercials and now he’s walking around JC Penney, working for free, trying to sell jeans and sweaters and cologne to people. He’s playing with stuffed ‘Space Jam’ toys and scaring children. He’s not even an official employee of JC Penney — he’s just bored and shopping by himself. The same year as the Excedrin commercial, Cranston finally got rid of his headache, shaved off his “I give up” beard, and strolled into JC Penney for a Christmas ad. His last line carries with it some creepy resonance given his current character on ‘Breaking Bad’: “I got in. I got out. No one got hurt.” Yeah, you say that now, but just you wait until you figure out how to cook the best meth Arizona has ever seen.