Dean Norris discusses the shocking events that took place the latest episode of Breaking Bad on Sunday night…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
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Everyone knew when Breaking Bad approached it’s final few episodes that the body count was going to get higher and some of the characters we’ve come to know and love would not make it until the end.
Although the show has ripped other past favorites away, the core cast has always survived while tippy toeing around land mines every single seasons, but with time winding down there was a shot that this could end up looking like the final scene from Reservoir Dogs by the time Vince Gilligan was finished.
The end of last week’s episode should have prepared us for what happened on Sunday night, but it was still hard to watch. Uncle Jack and his Nazi hit squad killed Gomez, and with Hank under the barrel of a gun, Walt tries desperately to plead with them to let his brother-in-law live. He offers them the $80 million he has stashed in barrels, but Hank stops the feeble attempts to save his life telling Walt that despite being the smartest guy he’s ever known he didn’t pick up on the fact that Jack decided 10 minutes ago that he had to die.
One bullet later and we say goodbye to Hank Schrader.
It was a rough way to start the night as we said goodbye to Dean Norris, who has played Hank so brilliantly for the past five seasons. Following the episode, Norris appeared on the Breaking Bad post show Talking Bad to discuss his ending and how he found out about it happening. Turns out, show creator Vince Gillagan had this planned more than a year ago when he told Norris how his character would meet his end.
“We originally had the discussion about a year and a half ago, and he told me about what episode he’d be dying in,” Norris said. “In the beginning of the season he sat me down and said ‘I’m going to tell you what happens’. So he sits down in the room and he takes about a half-hour and really talks it through and he got to those last few lines and I was like (motions that he was crying). It was great. He knew it, they knew it, and it turns out exactly like he says.”
Knowing that the end of this story could only go so many ways, Norris was satisfied with how his character Hank met his demise. He didn’t bow down or beg for his life — Hank was the same man the moment he met his maker as he was when he started on this show. As tragic as his passing was, Norris was at peace with his exit at this stage of the game.
“Getting shot in the head is a great way to end it,” Norris joked. “What a good way to go. I thought it was a proper ending. I’m glad he got to say the ‘F’ word. We’ve got to battle for that. We always get one ‘F’ word a season.”
Television shows are routinely shot out of sequence depending on actors availability, timing, sets and locations, but Norris says his final scene on his last day on Breaking Bad was the moment when Hank gets shot and dies. For such a dramatic turn of events, Norris admits it all turned out rather easy to get down and only took one take for all the actors involved.
“My final scene, the close-ups, were all shot in one take, which usually takes quite a few takes,” Norris said. “So they put three cameras — one from me to Bryan, one me to the bad motherf—ker and and one to myself. Literally we did it in one take. Rian Johnson, the director says ‘that’s how you die on TV’. That was it.”
When the shot was over, Norris said the entire cast gave him a great send off as well as a signed picture from the entire cast. There was no celebration, however, because Norris knew this was the end of his run on Breaking Bad and there was no going back. As the crew took him back to his hotel in New Mexico, Norris knew he couldn’t be there any longer.
“Literally on the way back to the hotel I was going to do another job, Under the Dome, and I said is there a plane left that goes to North Carolina? They said as a matter of fact there’s one last plane. Just stopped by the hotel, grabbed all my stuff and went right to the airport,” Norris said. “I most definitely did not want to sit there.”
Norris later admitted that the hardest scene he probably shot all year was the one where he had the phone conversation with Marie (Betsy Brandt) and said goodbye to her for the last time. Now like the rest of the world, Norris gets to sit back and watch to see how Gilligan will bring Walter White’s tale to an end in the final two episodes.
As for Norris, you can catch him again on Monday night during the season finale of Under the Dome that airs on CBS at 10pm ET/PT. Breaking Bad returns next Sunday night at 9pm for the second to last episode in the series run.