The Breaking Bad star’s father left the family behind when young Bryan was 11, after his acting career failed to come to fruition. The 60-year-old’s mother, Peggy, subsequently turned to alcohol to help her deal with her husband’s absence and the star and his siblings were sent to live at his grandparents’ farm in Los Angeles.
“He (father) chose not to be with us or see us or be a father,” he tells the Sunday Times. “My mother chose to become an alcoholic and drown her sorrows and sadness and resentment. She was like a ghost of herself. And no one ever explained why he left.”
The actor explains he is still processing a lot of emotions over the abandonment.
“There’s still a lot of pain I’m dealing with,” he continues. “It’s worse than if they died in a car crash, because they were still there physically, somewhere. My mom and dad up through 10 years old were really wonderful, that’s what was so awful about it. My mother was engaging and my dad was my coach; we did things together and he brought home a donkey for us to play with. Then it all disappeared.”
Cranston eventually reconciled with his parents later in life, and helped his mother as she struggled with Alzheimer’s disease, admitting he had an easier time coping with the condition than most because of the issues in their relationship.
“I feel far more sorry for those people who had really good relationships with a parent and then, all of a sudden, in a matter of a few months, that person slips away,” he says. “That’s cruelty. With me, it was more fortunate that the disconnect happened when I was 13 years old.”
Bryan’s father witnessed his son’s success before he died in 2014. A note found in his home, written three days before his death, read: “The highlight of my life was when my children forgave me.”