After playing a sitcom dad for seven seasons on Malcom in the Middle, Bryan Cranston became a household name – and multiple Emmy winner – for his role as mild-mannered science teacher turned crystal meth kingpin Walter White on AMC’s Breaking Bad, which ended in 2013. Cranston has since appeared in a number of mainstream films (Godzilla, Argo) but has focused on the stage.
Cranston won a Tony Award in 2014 for his leading role in All the Way as Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States and he reprises his role as LBJ in the HBO film of the same name. Cranston is reunited with Jay Roach, who directed his performance on the stage, leading an all-star cast in portraying Johnson’s attempts to make the Civil Rights Act of 1964 a reality. The cast includes Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Melissa Leo as Lady Bird Johnson, Bradley Whitford as Hubert Humphrey and Stephen Root as J. Edgar Hoover.
All the Way is Cranston and Roach’s latest biopic, hot on the heels of Trumbo, which starred Cranston in his Oscar-nominated role as blacklisted Spartacus screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.2014’s Selma followed many of the same events from the point of view of Dr. King, but All the Way centers on Cranston’s LBJ, a complex and towering figure in American politics. Take a look at the film’s trailer above.
Jay Roach made his name as the director of the Austin Powers films and broad Hollywood comedies like Meet the Parents, but he has since reinvented himself as a premiere helmer of political dramas. Roach has directed two of HBO best original political movies: Recount, which dramatized the controversion Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election and Game Change, which followed the 2008 campaign of John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin.
Roach also directed the pilot of HBO’s political dramedy series The Brink, for which he also served as executive producer. Roach’s HBO movies have contained a healthy dose of comedy, but from his short look at All the Way, it seems that this story will be short on laughs. And for such a pivotal moment in American history, a serious and focused eye is necessary.
The struggle to secure the Civil Rights Act fell on Lyndon Johnson – taking over as president in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination during one of the most turbulent periods of social unrest and upheaval of all time – and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., played here by Mackie. More than half a century later, racial issues and divisions continue to plague the United States. There is a distinct parallel between the fight for civil rights in the 1960s and the ongoing fight to respect those rights in today’s society. All the Way might serve as a reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.
All the Way premieres on HBO on May 21 at 8pm ET/PT.
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