Bryan Cranston Recalls Run-In with ‘Freaky’ Charles Manson

November 21, 2017 Updated: November 21, 2017

“Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston said that he once had an encounter with Charles Manson decades ago.

“Hearing Charles Manson is dead, I shuddered. I was within his grasp just one year before he committed brutal murder in 1969,” the “Breaking Bad” star tweeted. “Luck was with me when a cousin and I went horseback riding at the Span Ranch, and saw the little man with crazy eyes whom the other hippies called Charlie.”

Manson, 83, died on Sunday night of natural causes at a Kern County, California, hospital, according to media reports. He was sentenced to life in prison for ordering the killings of seven people in the summer of 1969.

Cranston said that he ran into Manson and his followers when he was a 12-year-old growing up in the Canoga Park, Los Angeles.

According to The Daily Beast in a report last year, in the 1960s, Cranston said that he and his cousin were looking at horses when a man in his 20s yelled, “Charlie’s on the hill!”

“Everybody looked around, and there was this frantic nervous energy going on, and they all jumped on horses and away they went,” Cranston explained.

He added: “We asked the old guy [Spahn] what was going on, and he said, ‘Oh, it’s nothing. It’s happened before.’ We thought, ‘Well, Charlie must be someone important.’ ”

Cranston said he and his cousin rode to look for what the commotion was, apparently finding Manson under the influence of drugs.

“There were about eight or so people, and there was a man in the middle on a horse, but he wasn’t holding his own reins — there was someone on the horse in front holding the reins — and Charlie, I guessed, was this comatose, bearded, long-haired guy with big eyes riding as if he’s just stuck to the back of a horse. Totally zoned out. You couldn’t take your eyes off him,” Cranston said.

“My cousin turned back to me and said, ‘Wow, that guy’s weird.’ When we passed him and their whole group, she turned around again and said, ‘That must be Charlie,’ and I said, ‘Yeah … and Charlie’s freaky!’ We didn’t think anything of it.”

When news of the murders broke in August 1969, he recalled seeing Manson.

“I saw his face on the news, and my jaw dropped,” Cranston added. “My cousin called me first and said, ‘Can you believe this?’ The picture of Charlie Manson was the guy on the back of this horse. And we thought for a second, oh my god, what if? It was very freaky, to say the least. Oh, man.”

Bryan Cranston at the premiere of ‘Last Flag Flying’ on Oct. 8, 2017 in London. When Cranston was a 12-year-old he had a run in with murderous cult leader Charles Manson. (Photo by John Phillips/John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI)

Please help support independent journalism by sharing this article with your friends and family. It takes less than a minute. Thank you!  

RECOMMENDED