Kharen Hill/CBS
For the last five years, DEAN NORRIS has been unwittingly chasing his brother-in-law as a dogged and determined Drug Enforcement Administration agent on AMC’s Breaking Bad. The show returns for its final season this month, but Norris, 52, is also breaking a bit of bad himself, playing the villainous Big Jim Rennie on CBS’ ambitious Stephen King adaptation, Under the Dome. “He doesn’t twirl his mustache, but he’s a very bad guy, and it’s a lot of fun to play,” Norris says. “I hope people root for him the way they’ve rooted for [Bad’s Walter White].” Here, the keys to Norris’ on-screen villainy.

KNOW THYSELF.
“When things get really bad or really challenging, and they do in this show, you get primal pretty fast. You start reaching for power and control. You might even need those things to survive. So I tap into that in myself.”

FIND THE RIGHT FEELING.
“It’s all about the tone and the feel of a piece. Under the Dome is this big, epic, horror, sci-fi thing, so you go with that. After all the inner turmoil of Breaking Bad, it’s been a blast to let loose and go way out there.”

LET GO OF THE ABCS.
“In my career, I’ve been very lucky to play the alphabet: FBI, CIA, DEA, LAPD. If there’s an acronym, I’ve probably played it. With Big Jim, I’ve been trying to come up with one, but it just isn’t there. So I’m enjoying that freedom.”