One of the many new releases this week is the long-awaited UK debut of Richard Linklater’s latest film, Last Flag Flying. A “spiritual” sequel to 1973 Jack Nicholson-starrer The Last Detail, the new drama stars Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston as three Vietnam veterans who reunite to help Carell’s character bury his son who has was killed in Iraq. To celebrate the release, we sat down to chat to Cranston about the film.

Both a heart-warming film about friendship and the bonds of Army life as well as being patriotic, it’s also a commentary on the US government and their treatment of their veterans and Cranston says it was the combination and bravery of both that drew him to the material, saying:

“Absolutely, I don’t think you can have one without the other. In the great war, World War II, the movies that came out after that mostly they were very clear-cut – we knew we didn’t stop Hitler so it was all patriotic. Vietnam changed all of that, it hasn’t been the same again since that. Questioning why military personnel are being put it harms way is not a bad thing, its a good thing. Any enlightened country should allow, and encourage, that kind of dialogue.”

Cranston plays Sal in the film, the joker in the pack, the jester that always wants to be centre of attention but underneath his desire to be the focal point lies someone who has, like many veterans, both lost his place in the world and struggling to juggle his mental and physical state in his later years since. The actor said what drew him to the character:

“I just loved him. He is just that guy who sucks the air out of the room, he is the one that consumes everything and the guy whose knees move when he’s sitting still. But he’s also a guy who you don’t want to spend too long with, someone who you say ‘I can take about an hour and then I’m done!’ but he’s also someone who you know is your friend and has your back so you have to tolerate the bad parts in him for the good parts and I think that’s something all of us can relate too.”

One of the funnier scenes in the film is when the three friends decide to purchase mobile phones for the first time – with the film set in the early 2000’s, it serves as both a whimsical look back in time but also gives the film a timely feel that perhaps wouldn’t have been felt without it. Cranston says he’s baffled that technology has come so far since, saying:

“It wasn’t that long ago! The smartphones are only ten years old or something like that so it’s amazing when we think about that. And it was important to have that to help the viewers of the movie transport back a little bit to remember those times when we thought ‘Wow”‘ when now those phones are antiques!”

You can watch the full interview below:

Last Flag Flying opens in UK cinemas on January 26th.