'Under the Dome's' bad guy is 'Breaking Bad's' earnest lawman
By Bill Keveney
Published: Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 7:55 p.m.
Hank Schrader wouldn't trust “Big Jim” Rennie for a second.
That's the verdict from Dean Norris, the man who plays both “Breaking Bad's” DEA agent and “Under the Dome's” conniving councilman, and it's one reason he took the role in CBS' “Dome” (10 p.m. Mondays) after five seasons as Hank.
“There's almost nothing that's similar. Hank has too many morals, it gets in the way, and Big Jim has zero, immoral, amoral, however you want to put it,” he says. “Hank (has) an obsession to do the right thing. ... And Big Jim will do anything. He'll do whatever it takes. I think he's a reptilian character.”
It's a spotlight moment for Norris, 50, a married father of five: “Dome,” based on Stephen King's novel, is the summer's only breakout hit, and AMC's award-winning “Bad” returns Aug. 11 for an eight-episode goodbye. On July 29, CBS renewed “Under the Dome” for next summer.
On the same spring day Norris finished shooting “Bad” in New Mexico, he jumped on a plane to North Carolina to work on “Dome.” “It was nice to have this other show to go to, because I would have just dwelled on the ending of ‘Breaking Bad,' ” he says. “I just drank a lot on the plane and tried to contemplate that it's all over.”
On “Bad,” Norris has enjoyed Hank's evolution from proud, boastful lawman to weakened gunshot-wound victim to man on a mission after figuring out — while sitting on a toilet — brother-in-law Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) role as a drug mastermind at the end of last year's run.
(Trivia point: Norris and Cranston first worked together on the 1998 pilot for Pamela Anderson's “V.I.P.”)
“Bad” creator Vince Gilligan says Norris was perfect for the role, bringing “the right mix of charismatic and authentic and believable and competent and yet also funny. ‘Breaking Bad' is obviously a very dark show, but we looked for opportunities to put humor into it whenever possible, and I think Dean got that from the get-go.”
From the supporting role of Hank, Norris is now one of “Dome's” leads as a politician seeking to keep order amid chaos in the domed town while concealing his role in the drug trade and trying to handle his disturbed son.
“You're going to think he's a bad guy, but in his own mind, he thinks he's the guy to take care of this town,” Norris says. “It's a study of megalomania. ... I sparked to it, because it's such a juicy role to play.”
Bill Keveney is a staff writer for USA Today.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Orpik out, Neal to have phone hearing
- Steelers’ playoff hopes all but gone in loss to Dolphins
- NFL notebook: Denver kicker boots record 64-yard field goal
- Wrestling attendance record falls as Penn State tops Pitt
- Likely loss of Steelers draft pick looms because of Tomlin misstep
- Senate Dems to push Obama nominees
- France bound by role in Africa
- Worst of winter storm expected to miss Pittsburgh
- Seizure of nuns fuels Syrian Christians’ fears
- Penguins’ Orpik taken off ice on stretcher in loss to Bruins
- Mt. Pleasant shows support for fire victims