The attempts at getting an interview with Dean Norris began in the fall of 2013, during the crescendo to the pop-culture climax that was Breaking Bad’s series finale.
The once-humble Hoosier actor was suddenly a hot Hollywood commodity. With Norris taking a bow as indomitable DEA agent Hank Schrader, we thought IM was due for a little getting-to-know-you time with the South Bend native, especially since his new vehicle, Under the Dome—starting its second season on CBS this month—looks like another moneymaker. (The final episode of Breaking had 10.3 million viewers and was widely hailed as a cultural touchstone; the Season 1 finale of Dome, which aired a couple of weeks earlier, had nearly 2 million more viewers.)
How has the success of AMC’s runaway hit affected his life? Has celebrity changed him? What now?
CBS directed us to place our request with Norris’s L.A. publicists, who informed us that their company and the actor were presently “on hiatus.” They referred us to the office of Norris’s manager, where a polite but brisk assistant suggested we resubmit the request this spring. Which we did. Again. And again. We pleaded with folks in the network’s publicity department, who tried shaking Norris’s tree on our behalf. Nothing.
In the end, Norris’s people big-timed us.
But that’s okay. We have other ways of getting information. Like rummaging around in hometown libraries. And finding a stash of yearbooks from South Bend’s Clay High School spanning 1979 to 1981—a treasure trove of before-he-was-famous photos that, far as we can tell, have never been seen outside of Northern Indiana.
What began as a failed attempt to score an interview with Dean Norris became a cautionary tale to other celebrities: Ignore IM at your peril. Because we will find embarrassing photos of you wearing a perm, or dressed in drag, or hamming it up as the front man for a school rock band playing “Another One Bites the Dust.” Then we will post them here on our website for the world to see.
And Dean, if you’re reading this, and you want the pictures taken down, we might consider it in exchange for one small favor.
Just let us know when you are available to talk.
Postscript: Norris finally spoke out on the subject—and got #maleperm trending on Twitter.
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Photos from the South Bend Clay High School Minuteman courtesy St. Joseph County Public Library