HomeArts & EntertainmentArtBryan Cranston says he has confronted his ‘white blindness’

Bryan Cranston says he has confronted his ‘white blindness’


Bryan Cranston has said recognising his white privilege led to his role in Paul Grellong’s play Power of Sail.

The Breaking Bad star said: “I’m 65 years old and I need to learn. I need to change.”

Cranston said that George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, as well as the protests that followed, made him come to terms with his own “white blindness”.

The actor told The LA Times that prior to taking on the role in Power of Sail, he turned down an offer to direct a production ofThe Foreigner. Larry Shue’s 1984 comedy tells the story of an Englishman who foils the Ku Klux Klan’s plan to convert a Georgia fishing lodge into a Klan meeting place.

“It is a privileged viewpoint to be able to look at the Ku Klux Klan and laugh at them and belittle them for their broken and hateful ideology,” said Cranston.

“But the Ku Klux Klan and Charlottesville and white supremacists – that’s still happening and it’s not funny. It’s not funny to any group that is marginalised by these groups’ hatred, and it really taught me something.”

(Rex Features)

The Malcolm in the Middle star said that he had enjoyed the play for decades but only recently acknowledged that it was his white privilege that allowed him to laugh at its subject matter.

“And I realised, ‘Oh my God, if there’s one, there’s two, and if there’s two, there are 20 blind spots that I have … what else am I blind to?’” Cranston said.

“If we’re taking up space with a very palatable play from the 1980s where rich old white people can laugh at white supremacists and say, ‘Shame on you,’ and have a good night in the theatre, things need to change, I need to change.”

Cranston added that he wanted to be a part of “something that changes the conversation”.

He said that he believes Power of Sail meets that criterion.

The play centres around Charles Nichols (played by Cranston), an ageing Harvard professor who sparks backlash from the student body after inviting a white nationalist and Holocaust denier to speak at an annual symposium.

“A good play may not change your life, but it could change your day,” Cranston said.

“To go deeper, a play can also stimulate the mind. It can make you question your thought process – your dogma. It could challenge you.”

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