Bryan Cranston Still Gets Money For 2 Seconds of Whistling On Malcolm in the Middle

Bryan Cranston Still Gets Money For 2 Seconds of Whistling On Malcolm in the Middle
Image credit: Legion-Media

Malcolm in the Middle, which ran from 2000 to 2006, may have been overshadowed by more recent successful sitcoms, and its fandom is not as active as it once was.

But it is still well known and considered one of the landmarks of the genre. Malcolm in the Middle is often credited with influencing the family sitcom subgenre because it was not filmed in front of a live studio audience and did not have a laugh track, allowing for relatively elaborate post-production. It also managed to popularize the single-camera shooting style that has been used by many sitcoms since.

And it was a huge commercial success. To the point where small acting quirks could earn actors real money.

For example, Bryan Cranston ( Hal) had this distinctive whistling thing he did, little melodies that lasted a few seconds. The music supervisor at Fox, who had to write down every second of music on a show, decided that this counted as music.

So after Bryan confirmed that it was his own whistling and humming and not a recorded soundtrack, he started getting royalty checks for it.

"…To this day I will get a check, it said 'Hal, humming, two seconds'," as Bryan revealed on The Kelly Clarkson Show.

And the checks, though insignificant next to Cranston's salary, apparently were sufficient to buy drinks for all the crew, at least after collecting a few of them.

This is especially notable because even though Cranston was probably the best and most memorable actor in the show, he still technically played a supporting role. So after a time crew members started offering suggestions along the lines of: "Hey, Bryan, it looks like a good opportunity for Hal to whistle on his way to the car".

Perhaps, as Rita Wilson had suggested immediately, Bryan Cranston should have thought about putting together an album of whistles, calling it "Whistle While You Work."

And jokes aside, the above-mentioned music supervisor clearly was very serious about his job. And so were everyone else, resulting in one of the most memorable and popular sitcoms of the recent decades.