Dean Norris is best known for portraying police officers. “I play DEA, CIA, FBI, LAPD; I got ‘em all,” he once said. He became instantly recognizable to a generation of TV fans as the boisterous DEA agent Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad, and in his new film he’s once again playing a cop, but with a twist.
“You almost feel sorry for him,” says Norris, “until you realize who he is.”
The film is Remember, a road movie of sorts. Christopher Plummer plays Zev, a man on a journey to justice, a quest to find the Nazi guard who killed his family 70 years before. Along the way he meets Norris as Officer Kurlander, a sad and lonely man with a connection to one of Zev’s suspects.
Their explosive meeting is difficult to discuss without giving away a plot point, but suffice to say Norris reveals when he had a chance to watch it he did so with his hands covering his face.
“We had three cameras going and I was like, ‘Just run them and let me hit it,’” says the fifty-two-year-old actor. “It was one of the few times where I almost felt out of body. You know when you see red and get kind of blinded? I’m not even sure what I said some of the time.”
Norris credits his director and co-star with making the five-day filming of the wild sequence possible.
“(Atom Egoyan) does what the good directors do,” he says, “and makes a comfortable space for you to play in and feel safe, which was important on this damn thing because it is so crazy. You want to feel safe to be able to go to wherever you have to go to, and I did with him.”
Norris describes Plummer as one of the greats. “It was like working with Laurence Olivier.”
“It was a pleasure to watch him,” he says. “There would be moments where I’d be in the scene and saying to myself, ‘I’m looking into the eyes of a man who has been in these scenes for decades. Been in the moment with unbelievable people in unbelievable movies.’ It’s like I wanted that to seep into me. Steal his essence.
“It’s a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life.”