Bryan Cranston to make UK stage debut in Network

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Bryan Cranston is getting ready to hit the London stage

He’s best known for his role as criminal mastermind Walter White in Breaking Bad.

Now it’s been announced that Bryan Cranston is to make his UK stage debut in an adaptation of the 1970s Oscar-winning film Network.

The 60-year-old US actor will play Howard Beale, a TV news anchor who announces he will kill himself on air after he’s told he’s being sacked for declining ratings.

In a famous scene, Beale implores his viewers during an on-air meltdown to shout out of the window: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”

Adapted by Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall, Network will open on the National Theatre’s Lyttelton stage in November.

It will be directed by Ivo van Hove, whose Hedda Gabler at the NT is currently a sell-out hit.

‘Media satire’

Announcing its new season on Friday, National Theatre boss Rufus Norris described Network as “one of the greatest media satires of all time”.

“It’s incredibly prescient in terms of the world today,” he said. “I think it will stand up in our digital world.”

The 1976 film, directed by Sidney Lumet, won four of its 10 Oscar nominations.

Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight cleaned up in three of the four acting categories while writer Paddy Chayefsky won for original screenplay.

Norris said van Hove had been talking about the idea with Cranston for “a couple of years”.

“He’s got a fantastic pedigree as a stage actor,” he said. “It’s a part that requires something compelling and special.”

Norris pointed out that Beale’s “mad as hell” line was still being quoted at demonstrations – and had appeared on a placard held by singer Charlotte Church at a rally in 2015.

Cranston won a Tony award in 2014 for his Broadway debut in Robert Schenkkan’s play All the Way. He was Oscar nominated last year for Trumbo.

Other announcements made by the National Theatre on Friday included:

  • World premiere of Pinocchio directed by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s John Tiffany
  • Anne-Marie Duff will appear alongside Rory Kinnear in Macbeth
  • Saint George and the Dragon, an epic folk play by Rory Mullarkey
  • People, Places and Things will transfer to New York, with Denise Gough reprising her Olivier-winning role

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