Why ‘Sneaky Pete’ co-creator Bryan Cranston and star Giovanni Ribisi can relate to the con

Giovanni Ribisi lives the con life in 'Sneaky Pete'
Giovanni Ribisi portrays Marius/Pete in the Amazon Prime drama ‘Sneaky Pete.” (Eric Liebowitz /Amazon Prime Video)

Awards show acceptance speeches can sometimes be dull or uninspired; they can be emotional and impassioned; they can even provoke a tweet from the president-elect. But very few — in fact, just one — become the launching pad for a TV series on Amazon Prime.

During his 2014 Emmys speech for lead actor in a drama, the former “Breaking Bad” star reflected on his early years as a wayward kid before finding his passion in acting.

“I was a kid who always looked for a shortcut,” Cranston said then. “A schemer. My own family nicknamed me Sneaky Pete. My own family.”

A day later, Cranston got a call from Zack Van Amburg, the president of Sony Pictures Television, which produced “Breaking Bad.”

“He said, ‘Congratulations, and by the way, I think Sneaky Pete would make a good show,’” Cranston recalled during an early-January sit-down in Pasadena. “He said, ‘What if you hadn’t found your passion at 22? And you went off and now you’re 37 — what would you be?’ And I thought, that’s an interesting premise.”

From the age of 11, Cranston said, he didn’t have a father in his life and his mother was an alcoholic.

“There was this big opening,” he recalled. “I was kind of on my own, with the exception of a year under my grandparents’ auspices. But I really made up my own rules. I did just enough to get by.”

Now suddenly those wily years of his youth — of asking teachers what he needed to do to just get a C, or discarding most of the newspapers on his paper route to avoid dealing with ornery customers — found a way to intersect with his passion by way of “Sneaky Pete.”

The drama, which is available to stream on Amazon Prime beginning Friday, stars Giovanni Ribisi as Marius, a con man who gets out of prison only to learn that a gangster (Cranston) he once robbed is on the hunt for him (and his fingers). To evade his past, Marius assumes the identity of his former cellmate, Pete, and reunites with Pete’s colorful family, which is in the bail bonds business and hasn’t seen him in about 20 years. From there it’s a constant race to keep up the act. The cast also includes Margo Martindale, Peter Gerety, Marin Ireland and Shane McRae.

“I had been trying to figure out…