10 Reasons To Get Excited About Bryan Cranston's Sneaky Pete

The showrunner, cast, and producer Bryan Cranston share some insights into the debut season of Amazon's latest series.

by | January 12, 2017 | Comments


Bryan Cranston returning to TV is probably reason enough to celebrate, let alone the fact that he co-created a show. Sneaky Pete stars Giovanni Ribisi as Marius, a con artist who assumes his prison cellmate Pete’s identity. Posing as Pete, Marius and his cousin Julia (Marin Ireland) fall in with the real Pete’s grandparents, Audrey (Margo Martindale) and Otto (Peter Gerety), who collect bounties for bail bonds, in an effort to pay off gangster Vince (Cranston) to bail out his own brother.

Cranston created the show with David Shore, who has since passed the showrunning baton to Graham Yost. Cranston, Yost, Ribisi, Ireland, and Martindale spoke with reporters during the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

Here are 10 things to know about the new show, which premieres January 13 on Amazon.

1. Bryan Cranston Was Sneaky Pete

As he revealed in his biography and hinted at during one of his many Emmy speeches, Cranston was nicknamed Sneaky Pete growing up. He would find shortcuts to chores and mini-scams like reselling used suntan lotion. Sony Pictures Television exec Zack Van Amber thought his Sneaky Pete persona could become the lead of a series.

“I might be a con man if I wasn’t [an actor],” Cranston said. “Zack Van Amber said, ‘What if you were a teenager and you didn’t grow out of it and you’re now 35? What are you then?’ So that got us thinking about a bad man with a sense of purpose and goodness in his soul that’s undiscovered.”

2. Giovanni Ribisi Is Not Bryan Cranston, Though

The show only gets its name from Bryan Cranston, whose Sneaky Pete schemes were simple. Ribisi is playing a whole different character, and each of his plans creates more problems like a game of whack-a-mole.

“Ultimately the character is his own concoction from Graham and Bryan, and David Shore originally,” Ribisi said. “In a way, you could distill it down to a simple thing where a guy wants to save his brother from a situation, or extricate his brother from that. What was so fascinating for me was how complicated it became, because of his own logic, because of his own reasoning. The various tributaries he would go down to cover his tracks or lie or build a bigger lie.”

3. Margo Martindale Was A P.I. In Real Life


While performing off Broadway in the 1980s, Martindale worked as a private investigator to make ends meet. Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld) worked in the same office. That gave her some real world experience in Audrey’s line of work.

“Everybody there was an actor,” Martindale said. “Wayne and the boys got to go out on the street and bust up counterfeit rings and stuff, do surveillance in a car. All of mine was done sweet talking people on the phone, getting dirt on people, getting dirt on husbands from neighbors, getting dirt on anybody who was applying for a job for headhunters. It was a deceptive job. Very Audrey.”

4. It Began At CBS, But It’s Better On Amazon

Sneaky Pete began as a CBS show, where Shore had conceived it as a “con of the week.” Marius/Pete and Julia would catch a different crook every episode. Yost took over in February 2016, when it was already an Amazon show, and realized he could go into more detail. For example, Marius trying to crack Audrey’s safe became a major subplot.

“I was originally thinking getting into the safe will take one episode,” Yost said. “The writers room said, ‘You know what? We’re doing a streaming show. We can slow that roll. Let’s explore that. Let’s make that harder, and let’s make the safe be a big thing, so that once we finally get into that safe, it’s a big reveal, and then there are ramifications because of that.’”

5. Marin Ireland Threw Out Her CBS Research

For the CBS incarnation of the show, Ireland studied bounty hunters, especially female bounty hunters. But the Amazon version became more character-driven.

“Originally in the CBS version, we were much more bounty hunting sidekicks,” Ireland said. “At that point I was doing all this crazy research on lady bounty hunters. You really uncover some fascinating people. One of the most famous female bounty hunters is 4’2”. That was very fun, but ultimately the interesting thing about the character is she is kind of bad at it. She’s trying to get better at it and gets shown up a lot by him.”

6. Vince is not Walter White


Watching Cranston play a charismatic villain will certainly be a treat for Breaking Bad fans, or anyone who loves great characters. Cranston created himself a very different role in Sneaky Pete, though.

“Walter was an everyman,” Cranston said. “Over the course of six years, we got to unveil the type of personality he eventually became. Under the right set of circumstances, I think anybody could have that same journey. Vince is a different guy. He had a different track. He had more of a Sneaky Pete nature to him from the very beginning. Even while he was a cop, he was not a clean cop. He was working an angle from the very beginning, so he’s a very different character than Walter White.”

7. You’ve Never Seen Cons Like This Before

There’s a long history of con artists in movies, and maybe less so on television. Sneaky Pete captures the American hustle, but with a twist on crime story cliches. Holding someone at gunpoint doesn’t always make them obedient, and catching a liar doesn’t make them honest.

“One of our guiding principals is to give the audience what they want in a way they don’t expect,” Yost said. “So a lot of that is turning things on their head and going a little farther. You pull a gun on someone and they’re maybe not going to do what you say. They’re going to say, ‘Okay, kill me.’ We want to play with those things. It comes from the tradition of hopefully the best of the con artist stories, whether it’s The Sting, which is something we actually reference a couple times, or Paper Moon. Even Focus, which was a rock solid sting movie with Will Smith. That tradition of con artist stories is something we’re living up to with a new twist.”

8. Conning Is Acting

Ribisi is playing two characters on Sneaky Pete. There’s Marius, and there’s Marius as Pete. The same things that make Ribisi convincing on screen are what makes Marius convincing to Pete’s own family.

“From a con man’s perspective, it’s that the more you believe in it, the more they believe in it,” Ribisi said. “There were certain situations where there was an accent or a specific vocation or certain thing that you’re trying to put forward, but I think at the end of the day, it’s just, ‘Look the guy in the eye and say the line.’”

9. Marin Ireland Sat On The MacGuffin


Alfred Hitchcock and George Lucas frequently refer to a story’s “MacGuffin,” the object or goal of the story’s hero. Marius/Pete has a lot of MaGuffins. He’s trying to get into Audrey’s safe, he’s got to forge Pete’s driver’s license, and there are plenty of other MacGuffins they won’t spoil yet. In one upcoming scene, Ireland decided to sit on the MacGuffin that Marius needs, adding a layer to Julia’s scene with him. She’s talking to him, and he just wants her to move!

“I was like, ‘What if you have put it down, and when I show up, I sit on it?’” Ireland said. “‘So you look like you’re really interested in what I’m saying, but I’m literally sitting right on the thing.’”

10. Ben Vereen Is Coming For Sneaky Pete

Yost cast stage and screen legend Ben Vereen as Porter, a character who enters the story in the second half of the season, with a rich history tied to con artist legend.

“Ben Vereen pops up in this series and plays a big role from the midpoint on,” Yost said. “That was an interesting character to create. That’s part of the con world. We worked with Apollo Robins, who’s a great recovered con artist and one of the greatest pickpockets in the world. His sense of what it is to be a con artist and the personal costs, that was a big part of the story of the series, is Marius and Marius’s growth. It needed to be incremental, but also the sense of con history, these people in the world and the camaraderie they had amongst themselves. They’re like show folk.”

Sneaky Pete premieres on Friday, January 13 on Amazon.

Tag Cloud

Family Extras canceled TV shows composers rt labs critics edition Sony Pictures batman godzilla Marathons Apple TV Plus The Academy Song of Ice and Fire independent Marvel rt labs FX Cosplay films Columbia Pictures Horror Syfy screen actors guild hist ViacomCBS anthology versus binge dceu basketball Tags: Comedy dragons game show USA Year in Review singing competition MSNBC nfl TCA 2017 NBC die hard rotten movies we love Tumblr FX on Hulu Native Apple Summer PaleyFest Rocketman Certified Fresh genre dark Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Podcast spanish GIFs science fiction kids nbcuniversal halloween tv TLC saw South by Southwest Film Festival TV Netflix Ghostbusters marvel comics richard e. Grant true crime CW Seed 99% high school supernatural DGA quibi scorecard Shudder Hear Us Out deadpool Kids & Family blaxploitation facebook spy thriller Trivia doctor who comic books Alien action-comedy renewed TV shows 2021 hispanic royal family YA Trailer elevated horror LGBT jurassic park best scene in color film series scene in color Food Network FXX Pet Sematary Turner sequels Epix Best Picture a nightmare on elm street french First Reviews DirecTV Sony golden globes Fargo ITV Action Peacock The Arrangement stop motion Polls and Games social media Stephen King IFC Films Hollywood Foreign Press Association TCA Awards ratings franchise black comedy Esquire boxing Tarantino Geeked Week Dark Horse Comics The Purge TV movies comic italian crossover latino ESPN adaptation slasher thriller political drama TV renewals obituary indiana jones IMDb TV zombies scary movies Pop TV award winner Sundance Tokyo Olympics Universal cartoon directors reviews Prime Video NBA Drama RT History summer preview talk show posters debate marvel cinematic universe Pacific Islander Fall TV spain werewolf Lifetime Thanksgiving classics Academy Awards Disney Plus venice TV One casting Ovation breaking bad satire AMC BET target scene in color NYCC Instagram Live zero dark thirty Lionsgate Sci-Fi Super Bowl Crackle Nickelodeon BET Awards obi wan travel comiccon Star Wars SDCC Trophy Talk based on movie cults The CW Reality Competition comic book movie Martial Arts Animation movies 2017 Cartoon Network Comedy Central Watching Series Paramount Network BBC America series young adult Character Guide technology Schedule National Geographic target rom-coms VOD cancelled CMT Classic Film live event Music aliens dreamworks dc toronto 2016 Disney gangster Logo japanese Superheroe Holiday dogs broadcast comic book movies Marvel Studios Winners Lifetime Christmas movies boxoffice The Walt Disney Company Mary Poppins Returns spanish language 2018 Freeform Disney Channel Winter TV teaser serial killer remakes Avengers ABC OneApp adventure news SXSW australia Wes Anderson 1990s Musical rotten Infographic hollywood Women's History Month 94th Oscars green book football Warner Bros. Best Actress YouTube Red Mary poppins MCU TruTV Travel Channel cinemax tv talk Lucasfilm Comic Book 71st Emmy Awards Broadway Election new star wars movies docudrama women WGN Universal Pictures feel good sports heist movie scary summer TV Television Critics Association Interview mutant chucky asian-american Spring TV natural history Captain marvel christmas movies Pop jamie lee curtis twilight Amazon Prime Video cars trailers mission: impossible OWN Discovery Channel Biopics Bravo AMC Plus Sneak Peek police drama Fox Searchlight Baby Yoda king kong popular politics Valentine's Day archives 45 sag awards razzies Writers Guild of America Netflix Christmas movies critics space what to watch Amazon Prime The Witch Grammys strong female leads comedies Box Office Best and Worst HBO cats Turner Classic Movies Focus Features game of thrones aapi reboot blockbusters anime all-time Neflix Black History Month YouTube sequel TCA summer TV preview parents Cannes Nat Geo 2020 Emmy Nominations Video Games CBS BBC new york stand-up comedy WarnerMedia Adult Swim streamig ghosts Acorn TV LGBTQ Spike trophy Western Awards golden globe awards PBS Teen documentaries black Fox News Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Emmys Musicals Pixar japan Disney streaming service art house Star Trek fresh 90s superman dramedy cancelled TV shows Vudu Masterpiece HBO Max period drama Legendary Comics on TV Showtime mockumentary Anna Paquin 93rd Oscars dexter BAFTA cancelled television Chernobyl CBS All Access DC streaming service DC Comics criterion Film Festival nature docuseries documentary SXSW 2022 television 73rd Emmy Awards Quiz finale movie new zealand Hulu Apple TV+ Mudbound 007 MTV HFPA Amazon scene in color series mob Marvel Television Mary Tyler Moore war Spectrum Originals Pirates vampires cancelled TV series south america Sundance Now 2019 President APB foreign adenture DC Universe lord of the rings miniseries discovery theme song Fantasy legend book Rom-Com sitcom TIFF interviews wonder woman CNN zombie screenings cooking know your critic Paramount Plus suspense harry potter toy story Heroines Mystery Christmas olympics Britbox Pride Month Oscar international Endgame streaming movies TCM VH1 cops Red Carpet Photos FOX Image Comics video Star Wars Celebration children's TV Premiere Dates Creative Arts Emmys sopranos king arthur rt archives Crunchyroll Nominations halloween 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards X-Men ABC Family New York Comic Con History universal monsters Film indie medical drama Indigenous Holidays ID crime drama book adaptation TBS TNT stoner Ellie Kemper Country psychological thriller HBO Go monster movies comics RT21 The Walking Dead kong Amazon Studios 21st Century Fox Disney+ Disney Plus Opinion witnail emmy awards Awards Tour Elton John leaderboard canceled streaming name the review 4/20 Brie Larson mcc Walt Disney Pictures Reality 24 frames MGM Arrowverse crime American Society of Cinematographers live action BBC One Rock animated telelvision PlayStation Best Director prank free movies 20th Century Fox VICE YouTube Premium robots El Rey worst movies See It Skip It critic resources Calendar Oscars justice league A&E ABC Signature Hallmark Christmas movies hispanic heritage month Starz IFC Hallmark TV Land blockbuster San Diego Comic-Con romantic comedy Superheroes GLAAD child's play First Look USA Network Comic-Con@Home 2021 pirates of the caribbean Shondaland spinoff joker Exclusive Video vs. james bond superhero Countdown Comedy biopic revenge E! kaiju video on demand fast and furious SundanceTV slashers Paramount spider-verse E3 romance crime thriller diversity Tubi festivals Rocky 2015 72 Emmy Awards Toys Binge Guide Sundance TV Paramount Pictures Tomatazos unscripted historical drama concert GoT 79th Golden Globes Awards festival spider-man A24 psycho Best Actor Mindy Kaling laika Set visit hidden camera transformers Television Academy Black Mirror worst biography Funimation TCA Winter 2020 disaster