Actor Bryan Cranston praised former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a recent interview for inspiring other athletes to protest during the National Anthem, calling it “a beautiful way of protesting.”
“Dissent is one of the pillars of being an American. It’s how our country was formed, through dissension,” the Breaking Bad star told the Daily Beast, adding that Kaepernick “is not preventing anyone from singing or partaking in how they want to experience that moment.”
“He’s quietly, respectfully, being silent,” Cranston said of the former 49ers starter. “I think it’s a beautiful way of protesting the racial injustice that he feels is present. And I share that with him. There is an injustice.”
The controversy around kneeling during the National Anthem reached a fever pitch in September after President Donald Trump publicly chastised the NFL players’ protest. The Sunday and Monday following Trump’s criticism, hundreds of NFL players, team owners, and executives participated in political demonstrations during the playing of the anthem before the start of the games.
Celebrities flooded social media with photos of themselves on bended knee, in solidarity with the NFL. A nationwide boycott — from Virginia to Louisiana — has grown in response to the NFL players’ protest, game day TV ratings are cratering, and only a handful of players continue to demonstrate.
Cranston, however, says there are parallels between the current political debate around honoring the American flag and social injustice in America and his new war film, Last Flag Flying.
The Richard Linklater-directed film follows three Vietnam War veterans who reunite to bury Cranston’s character’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War.
“That’s what we explore in Last Flag Flying, the similarities between a G.I. in Vietnam and a G.I. in the Iraq War,” Cranston said. “We try to do it honestly. It’s not a slam of the military. It’s an examination of it. To say there are good parts and there are bad parts, just as with anything in life.”
The actor said that in any debate — be it about the wars America fights or racial injustice — being a liberal entertainer and openly critical of something does not mean that you care less about the larger issue at hand.
“I’m a guy who would be deemed a liberal from Hollywood,” Cranston said. “I think that should be stopped as well.”
“That because you align yourself with a social policy that is more liberal than others may be, that doesn’t make me not patriotic,” he said. “Because I’m not wearing an American flag pin on my lapel doesn’t make me unpatriotic. It’s not that. It’s who you are. It’s your actions. It’s your belief. It’s how responsible you are in your conversations.”
Last Flag Flying stars Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, and Steve Carell and opens in theaters November 3.
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