"He's auditioned already," Payne said of Cranston in an interview timed to coincide with yesterday's DVD release of "The Descendants." "I don't think he's right for the part, but he's an astonishing actor, that guy.
Payne confirmed that he's still trying to cast his hotly anticipated sixth feature, "Nebraska," and offered a brief sketch of the plot: "It's a father-son road trip from Billings, Montana, down through a little bit of Wyoming into South Dakota, and then down into Lincoln, Nebraska. And they get stuck in a small town in central Nebraska where the father grew up."
Payne's most recent film, "The Descendants," has earned $81 million at the domestic box office, received five Academy Award nominations, and won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Asked if he was disappointed about losing Best Picture to "The Artist," Payne said, "No, it was fantastic the film got as far as it did. It's wonderful. And as I like to point out, Best Screenplay is the only Oscar that 'Citizen Kane' received."
In the past, Payne has famously resisted studio pressure to cast of-the-moment stars in his movies, rejecting Tom Cruise for 1999's "Election" and George Clooney for 2004's "Sideways." (He later cast George Clooney in "The Descendants," calling the charming actor his "first and only choice.") Cranston couldn't be hotter right now, thanks to his extraordinary performance as meth-cooker Walter White in "Breaking Bad," which is headed into its fifth and final season on AMC.
Payne said he recently "inhaled the first season" of "Breaking Bad" after a friend told him it deserved consideration as the No. 2 scripted series of all time, second only to "The Wire." Where does Tony Soprano fit into that conversation? Nowhere, apparently. "In crowds I hang out with," Payne said, "I hear "The Wire" spoken about with much more fondness and admiration in hindsight than I do 'The Sopranos.'"