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Bryan Cranston puts fun in 'Panda 3' dad


Po meets his long-lost panda father Li (voice of Bryan Cranston, right) in 'Kung Fu Panda 3.' Says Jack Black, "Li is the master of chilling, of having fun."
(Photo: DreamWorks Animation)



In fact, it's after setting a dumpling eating record that Li finds his lost panda son Po (Jack Black), who has always believed his panda village had been wiped out.
Po has been enthusiastically undertaking the necessary disciplined training to become a martial arts Dragon Warrior while his father Li has been living the good, lazy life of the panda bear.
"Li is the master of chilling. He's the master of having fun, of hanging out," says Black. "He's a really funny, jovial dude who loves to play. He's the dream dad."
There's an element of sadness in the reunion as Li's wife (Po's mother) has died, which Po learned about in 2011's Kung Fu Panda 2 — a loss which set Li on his solo mission.
"That was my promise to her, that I would find Po," says Cranston. "It's a father's quest to be reunited with his son."
This reunification is something Cranston can relate to. His own father, actor Joe Cranston left his family when Cranston was 12. At 22, Cranston tracked him down to reconnect.
"It's quite interesting, when he left I was a boy. When I reacquainted with him, I was a man. The entire chunk of my teenage years were gone," says Cranston. "There was a tremendous amount of contrition on his part and then forgiveness. It ran the whole gamut of emotions."
Kung Fu Panda Po (center) finds out he's not the only
Cranston maintained the relationship until his father died last October at age 90. He was able to use his past as part of his actor's "tool kit" for the role.
"You end up humanizing it, despite it being the animal you see on the screen," says Cranston, who adds that it is a comedy, "I also wear one of those helmets that has the holder for beer cans when I'm recording."
The project has given the Breaking Bad star another opportunity to flex some comic chops, as he did notably for six years as Hal in Malcolm in the Middle. Cranston is still in the studio recording the evolving character, who has become "more playful" the more he's worked on it.
"I'm actually going to pitch using a Breaking Bad quote in the movie during my next recording session. A cookie for the adult viewers," says Cranston. "Maybe my character will say, 'Say my name.' "
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