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With graduation, he had a decision to make: Would he be an academic, an investment banker — or opt for show biz?
He knew he'd made the right choice when, not long after moving to Hollywood, he realized he was supporting himself with acting jobs.
With his fireplug physique and balding pate, he was quickly slotted as a cop-and-military type.
"Fortunately," he says, "there are a lot of those roles around."
Of course, there aren't many cops like Hank around, and Norris readily acknowledges this may be the most important character he ever plays.
But he's proud of "Under the Dome," which he began filming in Wilmington, N.C., last spring — after flying straight from the "Breaking Bad" set in Albuquerque, N.M., just hours after wrapping production. He finished the season of "Dome" last week, then dived into doing press for "Breaking Bad."
"It wasn't until now," he said, "that I started processing the fact that it's over. 'Breaking Bad' is something I'll always think about and miss."
But now Norris, like so many other "Breaking Bad" fans, will be glued to his TV for the final run, which he knowledgeably bills as "the best eight episodes of the entire series."
"I'll be watching it Sunday nights, complete with the commercials," he declares.
And, yes, he's fully aware that most TV-series stars insist they don't watch themselves and the shows they appear in.
Understandable, said Norris: "They're not in 'Breaking Bad.'" And he burst out with a laugh.