Award-winning actor Bryan Cranston has responded to those who have criticised his role as a disabled character in a new film, arguing that it’s an actor’s job to portray different people.

The former ‘Breaking Bad’ star plays a quadriplegic billionaire alongside Kevin Hart in comedy drama film The Upside, whose premise is that Hart’s character is a recently paroled criminal hired to be Cranston’s character’s carer.

62 year old Cranston, who is able-bodied, spoke out in defence of this latest role, in the context of a debate in Hollywood over representation and roles for minority groups.

Speaking about his latest film to the Press Association, Cranston said that while he was aware of “the need to expand opportunities”, his casting in The Upside was a “business decision”.

Bryan CranstonBryan Cranston defended his role in 'The Upside'

“As actors, we're asked to be other people, to play other people," he said. "If I, as a straight, older person, and I'm wealthy, I'm very fortunate, does that mean I can't play a person who is not wealthy, does that mean I can't play a homosexual? I don't know, where does the restriction apply, where is the line for that? I think it is worthy for debate to discuss those issues.”

More: Bryan Cranston announces he’s no longer signing autographs – but he’s happy to do selfies!

Cranston is aware of the nature of the debate - his most famous role as Walter White in ‘Breaking Bad’ saw his on-screen son, Walt Jr., who suffers from cerebral palsy, played by actor RJ Mitte, who has the disability himself.

“We live in the world of criticism, if we're willing to get up and try something, we have to also be willing to take criticism. We're very aware of the need to expand the opportunities for people with disabilities. I think being cast in this role as a quadriplegic really came down to a business decision.”

This echoes what his co-star Hart, who recently pulled out of hosting the Oscars after old tweets using homophobic language emerged, said of the debate – that the film’s backers were ultimately looking for “box office success”.

More: Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston discuss potential ‘Better Call Saul’ appearances