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Q&A – Dean Norris (Hank Schrader)

Norris talks about life on the Mexico border, what happens when an actor takes things too far, and Season 2 souvenirs he wishes he had in AMCtv.com’s exclusive interview.

Q: You recently starred in a movie about the Mexico border patrol called Linewatch. Between that and Breaking Bad, what have you learned about life on the border?

A: Just that it sucks. [Laughs]. We actually shot that movie in Albuquerque as well. I’m just amazed at how current all that work is turning out to be — the issue of violence on the border coming up here to the U.S. Beheading is a big thing for those cartels. Having seen it, that’s not anything I would want to be a part of. It’s like, “I’m sorry, my bad. You win!”

Q: Hank looks pretty natural firing off his gun this season. Are you a gun guy?

A: I do have a couple of guns — I’ve got a big ‘ole .357 revolver. I’m not as big a gun guy as Vince is – he’s a fairly decent shot, apparently. I’d really like to go shooting with him some time just to see. I did a lot of practice with the DEA on a range, and that was pretty fascinating. They had me fire the Glock .22, which is the gun I carry on the show. And then we pulled out the automatic weapons. It was like, alright, let’s fire away! [Laughs]

Q: Where did you come up with the concept for the Cop Talk videos?

A: I remember when they had the riots in Los Angeles somebody was quoted saying the scariest thing was all the actors who were pretending to be cops and thinking they were protecting themselves. You know, they’ve got some gun they’ve never shot before, running around like they were real cops [Laughs]. Dude, that’s for the stunt guys! So I tried to play a version in between Hank and myself: An actor who thinks he knows what he’s doing. I think actors who take things too far are funny. I mean, Hank is an awesome guy, but usually I try to stay as far away from him as possible.

Q: Where did you find the cops you interviewed?

A: Those were just a couple buddies of mine. I had a band, and one of the cops was the drummer in our band. I played rhythm guitar because there was another guitarist who was better than me. Anyway, he was the drummer in our band, and his brother is a cop as well. So I got those guys and we just came up with some fun stuff.

Q: All of your online videos feature a lot of improv comedy. Do you get to do any improv on the show?

A: We do a little bit. Without a doubt I’m pretty much the only guy who gets to do it because I end up in situations where I can throw in a few things. Sometimes the lines get in the show, sometimes not. There’s a scene in an upcoming show where Walt makes a little toast and it’s kind of uninspiring, and I make a little joke about how lame it was.

Q: Now Hank has a blog. Have you ever tried blogging?

A: I’m not sure where or how I would. It’s like this Facebook concept: People are like, “Hi I’m going to the bathroom now.” I’d need to have more perspective to write a blog. Who wants to read about when I’m takin’ a s___? I just started Facebook and the jury is still out. It’s kinda cool. But people will post like 8 times a day. I’m just not sure I want to know what all my 100 of friends are doing at any moment.

Q: Hank wears a lot of orange shirts. Do you ever get sick of it?

A: I did get sick of it — about the moment I started wearing it. They segued me to brown towards the second half of the season, though. I don’t exactly know what that means, except that I get to wear something other than orange. Who would wear orange? But I like the brown a lot better — I’ve actually taken a couple of those costumes home.

Q: Did you take any other souvenirs from Season 2, like perhaps Tortuga’s head?

A: I tried to get ahold of it, but they wouldn’t give it to me! It’s probably an expensive head. They wouldn’t give me Tuco’s grill, either. They had a bunch of them, and they gave one to Raymond Cruz, but I didn’t get one. I only get the brown shirts, so the prop department is getting a talking to when I get back: “Give me a grill and some head!” That probably wouldn’t go over well. I would like a Schraderbrau t-shirt…

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