Bryan Cranston’s 2-Year Motorcycle Trip Was Crucial for His ‘Breaking Bad’ Life

These days, when it comes to actors, Bryan Cranston is a household name. The Breaking Bad star can have just about any role he chooses, and it’s all thanks to his performance as the chemistry teacher-turned-meth cook Walter White.

The show was set in the American Southwest, and the hot, dry terrain almost became its own character on the show. What many people may not realize is that much of Cranston’s personality was forged driving a motorcycle through that region of the country.

Here’s the story of how one long trip made him appreciate the area he’d later make even more famous on his show. 

Bryan Cranston had a tough childhood

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Cranston spoke with Route Magazine about his childhood, his affinity for motorcycles, and the two-year journey he took that most would only dream about. For someone who later led such a seemingly charmed existence, Cranston’s life growing up was anything but sunshine and rainbows.

The actor’s parents got divorced when he was young and his mother battled alcoholism. To achieve some semblance of stability, Cranston and his brother joined the police academy. Luckily for fans of his acting, it was only a short-term dalliance.

Cranston said that his parents’ rocky breakup greatly affected him and his brother: 

“She wasn’t dependable, and my father wasn’t there, so I think we were lacking strong male role models, and my brother got involved in a Police organization called The Police Explorers, and they traveled quite a bit.”

The motorcycle trip that changed Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston at the Apple Store Soho Presents: Meet The Filmmakers event
Bryan Cranston | Daniel Zuchnik/FilmMagic for Getty Images

Eventually, Cranston and his brother made a radical decision to take a motorcycle trip across the entire country. Their entire trip was chock full of wild, life-changing experiences.

For example, they often slept near or outside churches, but one of them in Little Rock, Arkansas was not what it seemed: 

“…it wasn’t a church, it was a mortuary! We didn’t know that when we first pulled in. They had to deliver a body to a church by morning, so they had to pick it up, and had we been fully awake we could have logically put all the sequences together and come up with an answer, but what we went through that night was petrifying.”

The ride itself was exhilarating. It made Cranston want to explore the country even more. The future Malcolm in the Middle star added riding on the famed Route 66 to his bucket list.

Cranston and his brother rode all the way down Route 66 over the course of two weeks. This introduced Cranston to an area that became near and dear to his heart: Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The importance of Albuquerque to ‘Breaking Bad’

Albuquerque is an integral part of Route 66. Riding on this road and through this city is what first exposed Cranston to the southwestern part of the U.S.

Later on, Albuquerque became an indelible component of Breaking Bad. It’s tough to imagine the show without thinking of some of the more striking visuals from throughout the New Mexico desert.

According to the actor, he still loves the area that was so important to his show: 

“Albuquerque was absolutely an important character and I just adore those people and all those who worked with…I look forward to getting back there and visiting again and saying hello and having the chilis.”

This is where Cranston’s love affair with the city began. Not only did he grow to love the area due to his trip, but he later embraced it even more when it was where his show took place. Cranston later bought a home in the city’s Nob Hill neighborhood, showing his affection for the city and region.