"I was not raised with the idea that you could achieve that," Cranston said of his Trumbo nomination for best actor in an interview with Robin Roberts for the ABC News special Journey to the Oscars.
His father, Joseph Louis "Joe" Cranston, was a struggling actor, and Cranston learned early on just how difficult it can be to make a living in show business.
"My dad was an actor, and he made his living getting a job here, getting a job there, sometimes doing fairly well and other times, not so well," Cranston explained.
Joe was never able to take his career to the next level, and always felt frustrated he couldn't achieve the recognition he felt he desired. "I think that his ego was inflated to the point where he felt that was what was important," Cranston said of his father's pursuit of fame.
Cranston remembers his own acting career began auspiciously. During his first stage performance at an elementary school play, the future Breaking Bad star was humiliated when he mixed up his lines.
Revisiting his old auditorium, Cranston told Roberts his line was supposed to be, "President Lincoln will finish writing the Gettysburg Address when he returns from the White House."
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Instead, he read the line, "... when he returns from the White Front." The crowd, recognizing White Front as the name of a local grocery chain, erupted with laughter.
"Everyone was laughing and I thought it was an enormous failure," Cranston remembered.
After decades working on bit parts for over 60 television shows and countless commercials, Cranston landed a recurring role as the hilarious dad on Malcolm in the Middle.
But if it wasn't for the vision of Breaking Bas creator Vince Gilligan, Cranston might never have solidified himself as a dramatic actor.
"Vince Gilligan was my champion because the network and studio, they were like, 'Well, wait a minute, this – you're talking about Walter White being played by this silly dad from Malcolm in the Middle? And Vince, to his great credit and my benefit said, 'He's an actor. This is what he does, you know. He can do this,'" Cranston said.
Putting it simply, he added, "Walter White is the reason that i was able to become Dalton Trumbo."
Journey to the Oscars airs in full on a Special Edition of 20/20 on Feb. 26th at 10pm EST.