Interview: Dean Norris says his ‘Under the Dome’ guy chills out a bit this season

Dean Norris returns as the fearsome Big Jim for another season of "Under the Dome." Brownie Harris/CBS
Dean Norris returns as the fearsome Big Jim for another season of “Under the Dome.”
Brownie Harris/CBS

Dean Norris picked one heck of a series as a follow-up to “Breaking Bad,” taking on the dastardly role of local politico Big Jim in “Under the Dome,” based on the novel by Stephen King. That choice certainly seems to be working out for him. The series, a smash hit last summer, returns for another season chronicling the mysteriously cut-off town. Here, Norris lets us in on what to expect this year.

Where we find Big Jim at the start of the season: “Big Jim thinks that he knows what’s best for the town and he thinks he’s inspired by the Dome to do what he does. … What happens in the first episode is that he comes to an awakening and he reevaluates his position and his kind of personal trajectory and decides that maybe a different kind of Big Jim is required to survive under the Dome. Whether that turns out to be truthful or not, that’s what we’ll find out as the season goes on. One of the things that Big Jim is trying to deal with is seeing if there is enough food for everybody, if there is enough water for everybody, what resources are left for us to survive under the Dome. That’s definitely one of the themes that we deal with and Big Jim in particular is looking to try to answer or come up with a solution for.”

Whether Big Jim might be lightening up a little this season: “Actually, I think so. I think part of the transformation, the kind of theme we are talking about this year includes some redemption for Big Jim. It’s actually in the first episode that he has kind of a ‘come to God’ or ‘come to Dome’ moment where he believes that maybe his purpose in life shouldn’t be to be so nasty. And that’s kind of a story arc that continues throughout the season; whether he has a higher purpose, a greater purpose other than just killing people and being mean to his son.”

Dean Norris is seen on the set of "Under the Dome." Credit: Brownie Harris/CBS
Dean Norris is seen on the set of “Under the Dome.”
Credit: Brownie Harris/CBS

The rules of life under the Dome: “The Dome is a harsh master. I think we are discovering what the Dome can and can’t do. That’s part of the season arc. I think we are all struggling to find out what it means, what its powers are, whether it’s good or whether it’s bad, whose side it’s on. So all of those are questions that we attempt to answer and that we struggle with throughout the season, basically getting to know that exact thing, what is it about, what could it do?”

Bringing in Stephen King to write the first new episode: “Can I say something about Stephen King? The first episode is so Stephen King-ian and part of it is that almost in the midst of the kind of most horrifying and tragic elements, there are these little lines that are almost kind of humorous. It was so cool to see that because it’s in his books and it was so cool to see it in the script. I think you will see in that first episode there are moments where Big Jim maybe sees ghosts or they may be ghosts or they may be whatever they are. And while it’s a kind of a terrifying or horrifying situation, it’s also funny to see Big Jim have to squirm with these kind of Ghosts of Christmas Past and the future and have to deal with them. And it’s such a Stephen King-ian thing and it’s all present there in the first episode that he wrote.”

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick



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