Who says type-casting is bad? Not Dean Norris – he’s played FBI Agents, DEA Agents, Sergeants galore, Captains, Commanding Officers, Cops on the beat, Detectives, Deputies… indeed any time you need a authoritative no-nonsense tough guy, Dean is your man.
But it wasn’t always that way. Graduating from Harvard in 1995, a corporate career beckoned. Wall Street companies courted him by offering free flights and hotels so he could attend their job interviews – which he gladly took, but then spent his free time auditioning for anything he could find. One of those auditions got him into RADA, and after returning to the States he hasn’t looked back.
His second acting job was playing a cop in LETHAL WEAPON 2 – 18 weeks on set with Mel Gibson, followed by a role in HARD TO KILL with Steven Seagal and then he memorably played Tony the mutated Mars rebel in TOTAL RECALL. Three great jobs in his first 18 months as an actor.
And from that point he was set – the roles kept on coming, and with them the steady paychecks. A jobbing actor was born.
“The way I look at it, I’m a guy who acts to live,” Norris says. “You can always have a job if you can play shoot’em-up stuff. If playing cops pays the bills, that’s what I need to do to support my family.”
But if you think that playing similar roles means he has limited range then you must check out the outstanding series BREAKING BAD. In early seasons his brash, coarse DEA Agent Hank Schrader provides some easy laughs, but as the series progresses his character goes through some extreme dark changes and it shows what a wonderful, versatile actor he is.
May there long be a need for bald, paunchy bad-asses.