Dean Norris on Hank’s ‘Better Call Saul’ Return & First Impressions of ‘Sleazebag’ Lawyer
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 5, Episode 3 of Better Call Saul, “The Guy for This”]
The gap between Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad grew that much smaller after Monday’s March 2 episode of the prequel series when Dean Norris and Steven Michael Quezada returned to reprise their DEA agent roles.
Fans of Norris, Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) fresh-mouthed, beer-loving brother-in-law Hank Schrader, were devastated when he was taken out towards the end of Bad in “Ozymandias.” But have no fear, because Saul‘s past-set timeline has allowed these beloved characters to rise from the dead.
After Domingo (Max Arciniega) — a.k.a. Krazy-8 — was apprehended on drug charges, it only made sense that the DEA would become involved. After days of sitting silent, he was ready to talk after being passed messages from his boss Lalo (Tony Dalton) by his legal representation, the one and only Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk).
After agreeing to share insider info in exchange for leniency, Krazy-8 feeds Hank and Gomez info about dead drops that belong to Gus (Giancarlo Esposito). Apart from entangling himself with Walter White’s first murder victim, Schrader also met Saul for the first time. Norris discusses Hank’s first impression of the “criminal” lawyer, talks reuniting with Gomez, what makes Breaking Bad a phenomenon all these years later, and more.
We’ve seen Saul, Hank and Gomez come face-to-face on Breaking Bad, and there was always that tension between them. But what do you think is Hank’s first impression of the “criminal” lawyer?
Dean Norris: Well, I think he’s a sleazebag. I think Hank thinks he’s the guy that stands between him and justice, so I don’t think he likes him at all. But he knows he has to deal with him, and he knows he has to deal with his client, Krazy-8, to kind of further his own purpose, so he has to deal with him. But yeah, no, Hank doesn’t like him at all.
And that definitely doesn’t change from what we know of the future.
Can you tease how Hank and Gomez’s mission could impact Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) since he didn’t call off the dead drops at the end of the episode?
Yeah, I’m not sure how much I can say about that. I’ll have to … I’m going to defer that to AMC [Laughs].
Hank’s sense of humor is one of his defining characteristics and it was certainly intact during this episode. How was it getting to re-inhabit that sensibility and mindset?
Yeah, it was so much fun, because when I talked to Peter [Gould] and Vince [Gilligan] about coming back, I told them how much fun it would be to play Hank pre-depression and pre-PTSD. I thought it would be fun for the fans to, again, see Hank and his glorious swagger and loudmouth-ness. Kind of what made Hank who Hank was before he got in all kinds of trouble in Breaking Bad. So it was great, and they wrote him perfectly. I love how he just talks about stupid stuff.
You returned with Steven Michael Quezada as well. How long did you both know you’d be returning to the Breaking Bad universe, and what was it like getting to share the screen again?
Oh, man, it was so great. I’ve stayed very close and very good friends with Steven. They called me about two months before, and I immediately called Steven, and he didn’t know. And I said, “Hey, don’t say anything, but you’re going to get a call, and we’re back on the show.” So obviously he got a call later, and he was excited, and I was just as excited, because we’re now better friends, really, [than] we were doing [Breaking Bad], and we’ve stayed friends.
Obviously, when we started the show, we didn’t know each other, so we just were introduced to each other. So now, we’re coming back 10 years later, and we are good friends, and we got to play this friendship on TV again, and it was delightful.
Breaking Bad has just been such a phenomenon over the last few years, and the show celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2018. Why do you think it continues to be such a huge pop culture phenomenon even now, more than 10 years later?
Yeah, I think it goes back to the writing, and it’s such a great story, and it somehow just continued to resonate. I mean, I think it’s still probably one of the top 10 on Netflix streaming. You know? As new generations get old enough to watch it, it continues. A good story is going to last, and I think that’s what it is. It’s an original story, and I just think it comes down to that, and people continue to enjoy it and discover it. You know? I think it’s watched by more people now than it was, by far, than when it was out. So that’s good.
Better Call Saul, Mondays, 9/8c, AMC