Cranston won his second Tony Award for portraying Howard Beale in the play Network.
CBS Photo Archive / Contributo
- Cranston portrayed a news anchor going through a mental breakdown after nearly losing his career.
- The play Network was an adaptation of the 1976 Oscar-winning film, written by Paddy Chayefsky.
- President Donald Trump has regularly — and as recently as yesterday (June 9) — called the media the "enemy of the people."
Bryan Cranston won a Tony Award on Sunday for portraying a broadcast journalist in Network, a play adapted from the Oscar-winning 1976 film.
"Finally a straight, old, white man gets a break!" Cranston joked as he accepted the award, for which Adam Driver, Paddy Considine, Jeremy Pope, and Jeff Daniels were also nominated.
Network is a satire about ratings-driven media and, more broadly, corporate-human accountability. In the stage adaptation, Cranston portrayed Howard Beale, a longtime news anchor who learns that network executives plan to replace him due to poor ratings. Beale reacts by telling his live TV audience that he plans to kill himself during an upcoming broadcast. Ratings go up. Executives decide not to fire Beale.
The anchor starts angrily ranting against the ills of society in his regular segments. One of his main targets is the public's apathy and inaction: He challenges viewers to get off the couch, open their windows, and scream, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Cranston described Beale as a man in search of truth:
"Howard Beale is a fictitious TV newsman who found his way into the line of fire because of his pursuit of the truth, and I would like to dedicate this to all the real journalists around the world. . . in the print media and also broadcast media, who actually are in the line of fire with their pursuit of the truth."
The 63-year-old actor — who won his first Tony Award in 2014 for playing Lyndon B. Johnson in the play All the Way — also took a swipe at the Trump administration.
"The media is not the enemy of the people. Demagoguery is the enemy of the people," Cranston said, referencing President Donald Trump's frequent assertion that the media is the "enemy of the people."
It's not the first time Cranston has criticized the president.
Paddy Chayefsky wrote Network in the 1970s, but its themes and subtext still resonate with audiences today, as Aaron Sorkin told the New York Times in 2011:
"If you put it in your DVD player today you'll feel like it was written last week," Sorkin said. "The commoditization of the news and the devaluing of truth are just a part of our way of life now. You wish Chayefsky could come back to life long enough to write 'The Internet.'"
It's easy to imagine why people link Heath Ledger's death to his treacherous penultimate role.
- In 2008, actor Heath Ledger accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills and died, aged 28.
- One myth that attached itself to Ledger's death was that it was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker.
- New research suggest that fully immersed actors "forget themselves" in the sense that they actively ignore facts about who they are, temporarily subordinating their own thoughts and feelings to those of their character.
How the story of a statistics student being late to class became the inspiration for the protagonist of Good Will Hunting.
- One of the iconic scenes from Good Will Hunting shows Matt Damon's character anonymously solving a nigh-impossible math problem on a blackboard at the university where he works as a janitor.
- This story, while modified for the purposes of the film, actually happened.
- George Dantzig, who would later become a famous mathematician, was late to his graduate statistics class one day when he saw two statistical problems on a blackboard that he mistook for homework.
First contact movies had their Golden Age in 1980s America – now they're going global.
- The first extra-terrestrial to make contact (in a movie) appeared in 1920s Germany.
- ET set off a wave of 'first contact' movies in the 1980s.
- Many recent alien-landing movies are set in China and India – the future of the genre may well be Asian.
What's the role of evil in storytelling?
Towards the end of the Disney film Aladdin (1992), our hero's love rival, the evil Jafar, discovers Aladdin's secret identity and steals his magic lamp. Jafar's wish to become the world's most powerful sorcerer is soon granted, and he then uses his powers to banish Aladdin to the ends of the Earth.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.