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7 Things We Learned From Dean Norris’ Appearance On NPR’s Fresh Air

By 08.07.12

On shooting the shootout scene where the Moncada brothers come to kill Hank in a parking lot…

It was an amazing thing to shoot. We shot that in two days. A film would have taken, you know, two weeks to shoot that scene. There was no – there were no words other than when I first make the phone call to my partner Gomie. There are virtually no words in a five-minute scene. So it was all done by, you know, by our eyes and being worried and being scared.

And the director literally just had a – would talk me through the scene. We’d put the cameras on, and she’d be, like, you know, looked scared. Look left. Look right. Look really scared. Now you’re relaxed a little more. Now you’re really, really, really scared. And it was an amazing scene to do.

And when the shootout came, that was something, as well, because there was all – you know, if you’re in the car, in order to make the glass break as if it’s been shot by a bullet, there’s actually a – well, it’s essentially a gun that’s in the inside of the car that shoots out. And if you happen to get your hand in front of that, you know, it wouldn’t be very pleasant.

On being typecast to play cops…

Well, you know, if you stop in any doughnut shop and you see three cops eating doughnuts, man, one of them is going to look like me. I don’t know why that is, but…That’s about one in three. I guess it’s just, you know, you have a certain look and that’s, it’s kind of an authoritative law enforcement-type look, and that book is certainly the first thing that people cast you with before you get a chance to do some acting and do some other stuff. Like now I’m getting more dad roles, I’m doing some different stuff. I just played a used car salesman in a little movie that I like. Getting some opportunities to do different things than just cops

On deciding to become an actor after having gone to Harvard…

It was a tough decision because I went to Harvard and I was the first kid in my family to go to college. My parents didn’t go to college, really in my extended family, even with my cousins and stuff. So it was at one level you’re like, wow, you know, here’s the lottery out of the lower middle class by, you know, getting this ticket into Harvard. And I mean, I had a choice to either go into like, you know, investment banking…or pursue acting. And I talked to a lot of people. I had done some plays with the American Repertory Theatre there in Boston, so I had other professional actors who were, you know, making a living and was able to talk to them, ask them what they thought my chances were and things like that. I really, really tried to look at hard, because so many people decide they’re going to become an actor and you go, well, you know, are you one of those guys who is deceiving yourself into thinking you have a chance at doing this or do you really have a chance at doing it? So I really kind of examined that question long and hard. And ultimately, you know, I was doing, you played small parts at the American Repertory Theatre that they would give to the students and I figured these guys all made a living. You know, they didn’t make as much money, let’s say, as someone on TV or on film but I said, you know, I’m standing backstage in some tights and a codpiece, you know….Watching grown men, you know, on stage and it was just electric. And, you know, there was 800 people out there and there was just something magical about being, you know, backstage ready to go onstage and you got all your, you know, your colleagues are out there. And I said, man, if this is as good as it gets, you know, and I could do this the rest of my life, be a repertory actor, I’d be a happy man.

On something “chilling” involving Holly White coming later in the current season…

…Let me just say that there is a even more chilling scene involving that baby later on this season.

Side note: the Hank Schrader blog on AMC’s website is one of my favorite things on the internet. And here’s Dean Norris’ audition tape for the show…

(Pics via AMC & Tumblr)

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TAGSdean norrisfresh airhank schraderNPRterry gross

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