Bryan Cranston To Be UVA’s President’s Speaker for the Arts on March 26

Bryan Cranston

­­Bryan Cranston – New York Times best-selling author and award-winning actor, screenwriter, director and producer – will be the University of Virginia’s special guest for the third annual UVA President’s Speaker Series for the Arts. Cranston will share reflections on his career as an artist and the impact that the arts have on our lives, education, and the world.

Academy Award-winning producer and University alumnus Mark Johnson will moderate the conversation, hosted at UVA’s John Paul Jones Arena on March 26 at 2 p.m.

The President’s Speaker Series for the Arts is supported by the offices of the President and the Executive Vice President and Provost, the Vice Provost for the Arts and The Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. Cranston and Johnson’s conversation is also part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, and copies of Cranston’s 2016 New York Times best-selling memoir, “A Life in Parts,” will be available for purchase after the event. The first 40 patrons to buy a book that day will receive a special book-signing opportunity with Cranston after the event. Pre-signed books will also be available for purchase. He will not sign any merchandise or posters. Photos can be taken of Cranston from the book-signing line, but staged photos will not be allowed.

Students, staff, faculty and members of the local community are all welcome to participate in this one-of-a-kind arts event. More than 5,000 people are expected to attend.

General admission tickets are free and will be available starting Wednesday at the following locations:

Starting Thursday, tickets will also be available to print online at (search: JPJ Arena; note that Ticketmaster fees will apply).

There is a limit of one ticket per student and two for faculty/staff/community members at the box offices; up to four may be acquired online. Doors will open March 26 at 1 p.m.

Cranston is an Academy Award nominee, a four-time Emmy Award winner, and a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Tony Award winner.

Cranston’s career began with a role on the television movie “Love Without End,” which led to him being signed as an original cast member of ABC's “Loving.” He went on to appear as Hal on Fox Network's “Malcolm in the Middle,” which ran for seven seasons and for which Cranston was nominated for a Golden Globe and three Emmy awards. 

Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White on AMC’s “Breaking Bad” garnered him four Emmy Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe Award. He holds the honor of being the first actor in a cable series and the second lead actor in the history of the Emmy Awards to receive three consecutive wins. As a producer on “Breaking Bad,” Cranston won two Emmy Awards and a Producers Guild of America Award for outstanding drama series.

On stage, Cranston made his Broadway debut as President Lyndon B. Johnson in “All The Way,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan. Cranston won the 2014 Tony Award for his performance, as well as a Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Theater World Award for outstanding actor in a play.

Cranston went on to produce the film adaption of the play through his production company, Moonshot Entertainment, along with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Tale Told Productions. It premiered on HBO in May and was nominated for eight Emmy Awards, including outstanding television movie and an individual nomination for Cranston for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie. “All The Way” was nominated for four Critics’ Choice Awards, including best television movie and an individual nomination for Cranston for best actor in a television movie. Additionally, Cranston was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best actor in a television limited series or motion picture made for television and recently won the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or limited series.  

Moonshot Entertainment has also developed the drama series “Sneaky Pete” for Amazon and the animated series “SuperMansion” for Crackle, which received two Emmy Award nominations.

On the big screen, Cranston starred as the title character in Jay Roach’s “Trumbo.” His performance garnered him nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award and a Critics’ Choice Award in 2016 for best actor. Next, Cranston will appear as Zordon in the highly anticipated “Power Rangers” movie and star in the title role in Robin Swicord's independent feature, “Wakefield.” He recently wrapped production on Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying,” and is currently in production on Neil Burger’s “The Untouchables.”

Other feature film credits include: “Why Him?,” “The Infiltrator,” “Godzilla,” “Argo,” “Drive,” “Contagion,” “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Larry Crown” and “That Thing You Do!,” among others. He has also lent his voice to DreamWorks Animation films “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”

He added author to his artistic accomplishments in 2016, with the release of his best-selling memoir. 

Cranston is also a spokesperson and longtime supporter of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the leading nonprofit organization in the U.S. working with law enforcement, families and professionals on issues related to missing and sexually exploited children.

Mark Johnson, an alumnus of the UVA Department of Drama, has enjoyed a storied career working on some of the most critically acclaimed films produced in Hollywood. He began his career as an actor, moved into directing, and then became a producer, first with Barry Levinson and then independently. The list of films he co-produced or produced includes such hits as “Rain Man,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” “The Natural,” “Diner,” “Bugsy,” “Donnie Brasco,” “What Lies Beneath,” “Galaxy Quest,” “The Notebook” and the “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” His films have been nominated for Academy Awards, British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards and Golden Globes, among others. His television production credits include “Breaking Bad,” which brought him together with Cranston, and its spinoff, “Better Call Saul,” among others.

The President’s Speaker Series for the Arts brings to the University global leaders in the arts to speak about the value and meaning of the arts to universities, communities and the nation. Tina Fey – also an alumna of the UVA Department of Drama – spoke in 2013. Kevin Spacey came in 2014.

“The study, performance and appreciation of the arts enrich life in our community,” UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “All of us are looking forward to hearing Mr. Cranston share his perspectives, based on his significant career in the arts. I am also delighted to welcome back UVA alumnus Mark Johnson to moderate the conversation. He is an outstanding contributor to the arts in his own right.”

Jody Kielbasa, vice provost for the arts and director of the Virginia Film Festival, envisioned the speaker series as an opportunity to establish a dialogue about the arts and to further energize efforts to widen the sphere of influence of the arts at UVA.

“Both Cranston and Johnson are internationally acclaimed in their fields,” Kielbasa said. “They continue to make vibrant and meaningful contributions to the dramatic arts, in film, television, and the theater, that touch millions of viewers. As such they are outstanding ambassadors for the importance of the arts as a force that helps to shape our lives.”

About the Virginia Festival of the Book

A signature program of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Virginia Festival of the Book brings readers and writers together in Charlottesville for a five-day program of mostly free events including author readings, book signings, panel discussions, programs for children and more. The 23rd annual festival will be held March 22-26. The festival has consistently attracted audiences of more than 20,000 from more than 40 states each spring, with an estimated local economic impact of about $4 million annually. To learn more, visit

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Alexandra Rebhorn

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