Was Dean Norris a fan of Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” before he agreed to do the TV series?
—Frederick Franklin, Yakima, Wash.
Norris had not read the book at the time he was cast in the series—his first role after wrapping up as DEA agent Hank Schrader on “Breaking Bad”—but he was impressed by the author, whom he met on the North Carolina set of the TV series.
“It was really amazing to meet Stephen King,” he says. “You wonder about the mind of a guy who can create so much stuff.”
King advised the actors not to read the book because the characters and some events in the TV series had been changed—with his permission. For example, Norris’ character, Big Jim, starts out as a much nicer guy on the series, but becomes a dictator when he realizes that being under the dome, they are cut off from anyone who could reign in his authority.
“One of the things about portraying someone who is bad is they think they are doing it for good reasons,” says the South Bend, Ind.-born actor. “[In one episode], we talk about how he got his name Big Jim, and for me, it was really poignant and sad. When Jim was a kid, they made fun of him, so I feel really sorry for the guy. What he does to make up for it is kind of evil, but as an actor, the challenge is trying to find the humanity in the guy.”
Norris is in the enviable position of having two series on the tube this summer as “Breaking Bad” will return for its final season, while “Under the Dome” is airing its first.
“One of the reasons to do the show is it was so different from ‘Breaking Bad,’“ Norris says. “The show feels big—Shakespearean or Greek. It is an epic kind of show.”