Bryan Cranston is a hell of an actor.
I totally forgot about his award-winning portrayal as Walter White in the AMC hit “Breaking Bad” while watching him play President Lyndon B. Johnson in “All the Way,” an HBO film that looks at the early years of LBJ’s presidency and the creation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Cranston brilliantly embodied LBJ in a way that I’ve never seen done before. I don’t profess to have seen every portrayal of the 36th U.S. President, but it seems his legacy always was eclipsed by President John F. Kennedy’s legacy, the Vietnam War and several other major events during the 1960s.
Cranston wasn’t the only actor that lit up the small screen.
Frank Langella was great as Georgia Sen. Richard Russell, Melissa Leo’s take as Lady Bird Johnson helped piqued an interest in the former first lady and Aisha Hinds … she was magnificent as civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
There are other actors who were equally great but one who also stood out was Anthony Mackie.
Mackie may not look anything like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but that didn’t stop him from delivering a pretty solid performance.
“It was very important to me to portray the Martin Luther King that I know,” Mackie said during a promo video for “All the Way.” “Martin Luther King wasn’t a meek, saintly figure. He was an assertive leader of men.”
The film also gives a look at how Democratic Party leaders were divided over civil rights, which lead to a very contentious 1964 Democratic National Convention and contributed to the formation of the modern-day Republican Party. The film also shows the tactics FBI head J. Edgar Hoover used to destroy civil rights leaders and the movement (I also found the film’s subtleties about Hoover’s personal life and ancestry eye-opening).
Yep, this film is very relevant given the current civil rights issues, the forthcoming presidential election and division within both parties. Just don’t take my word for it. Watch Mackie, Cranston and co. shine in this film and then take a look at the stars discussing the characters they portray. I’m sure you’ll agree that at least one of them will be nominated for an Emmy.
WATCH: “All the Way”
WATCH: “All the Way: Character Spot: MLK”
WATCH: “All the Way: Character Spot: LBJ”
WATCH: “All the Way: Conversations”