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Why Hank From Breaking Bad Looks So Familiar

His name is ASAC Schrader, and you're pretty sure you've seen him before. Sure, we all know he's Walter White's brother-in-law, a DEA agent who's grappled with PTSD, battled scary sicarios, and built up an impressive rock collection. (Ahem, mineral collection.) But who's the man who brought Hank Schrader to life?

Well, his name is Dean Norris, and when he's not pretending to be a DEA agent, he's playing cops, U.S. marshals, SWAT team leaders, and every type of authority figure you can think of. But where exactly have you seen this guy? Well, pull on your bulletproof vest, grab a bottle of Schraderbräu, and settle down as we figure out why Hank from Breaking Bad looks so familiar.

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

After the success of Lethal Weapon, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover reunited for a sequel just a couple years later, reprising their respective roles as the maniacal Martin Riggs and the worn-out Roger Murtaugh. In this 1989 sequel, the detective duo find themselves facing a group of South African drug dealers armed with diplomatic immunity. But this time, Riggs and Murtaugh aren't working by themselves. Instead, they have a whole crew of cops watching their backs, including the one and only Dean Norris.

Sporting a plaid shirt, Norris plays Detective Tim Cavanaugh, a guy who's really looking forward to poker night at his house. Cavanaugh first appears early on in the film, helping our heroes as they chase Afrikaner baddies through the streets of LA. Later on, he's one of the guys betting that Riggs can't escape from a straight jacket. Of course, when it comes to crazy, you should never bet against Mel Gibson, something Norris's character finds out the hard way. Unfortunately for the balding detective, his eventual poker party ends with a bang when gangsters rig his house with an explosive device. But hey, at least Riggs and Murtaugh avenge the poor guy by permanently revoking some diplomatic immunity.

Total Recall (1990)

Hot off the success of Robocop, director Paul Verhoeven moved from the crime-ridden streets of Detroit to the red-light district of Mars with his sci-fi action film Total Recall. Loosely based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, the movie follows muscle-bound construction worker Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a guy who wants to visit the fourth planet from the Sun. Unable to make the trip, Quaid has fake memories of a Mars vacation implanted in his brain, a decision that backfires when the procedure goes wrong.

After the implants, Quaid come to believe he's actually a mind-wiped secret agent who's trying to bring down Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox), the villainous governor of Mars. Sure, it sounds crazy, but then why are all these hit men suddenly trying to kill him? Eventually, Quaid makes his way to the red planet and winds up in a seedy nightclub. And that's where he runs into the mutated Tony (Norris), a member of a rebel movement who isn't all that fond of Quaid and even tries to pick a fight with the big guy. (Sorry, Dean, smart money is on Arnold.)

Of course, under all that deformed skin beats a heart of gold, and when government troops try to kill Quaid, Tony is the guy who opens up a secret passageway, allowing our hero to escape. The mutant nearly pays for his actions with his life when Cohaagen decides to punish the rebels by cutting off their air, but fortunately, Quaid saves the day, rescuing Tony from a gruesome fate at the very last second.

Well, assuming the whole thing isn't a dream, anyway.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

After helping Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall, Dean Norris decided to cast their sci-fi friendship aside in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The Breaking Bad actor shows up about two hours into the movie, although, if you aren't paying close attention, you might miss him entirely. After all, half his face is covered up by a gas mask.

In James Cameron's amazing sequel, Norris plays a SWAT team leader who's called in to deal with a situation far above his pay grade. If you're at all familiar with the Terminator franchise, you know the overarching villain of the series is Skynet, an artificial intelligence that tries to wipe out humanity via nuclear holocaust. Hoping to prevent the oncoming Judgment Day, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and company—her son John (Edward Furlong) and the T-800 (Schwarzenegger)—convince Skynet creator Miles Dyson (Joe Morton) to destroy all his research, canceling the apocalypse for good.

Sadly, the best laid plans of machines and men gang aft agley, and when the foursome breaks into the Cyberdyne building, the cops show up with machine guns ready. Norris's SWAT commander leads the charge, and his team puts several bullets into poor Miles Dyson. However, when Norris approaches Miles' bloody body, he sees the scientist has a detonator in hand, ready to blow up the building and wipe Skynet out of existence. Naturally, Norris freaks out a little bit and orders his men to fall back, escaping the building and exiting the movie.

The X-Files (1995)

Dean Norris has been in pretty much every TV show since the late 1980s. There was 24, Key and Peele, Grey's Anatomy, and Walker, Texas Ranger. He played a priest in NYPD Blue, a politician in The West Wing, and Benjamin Franklin in Sons of Liberty. And before he was busting drug dealers in Breaking Bad, he played a U.S. Marshal in The X-Files, joining forces with the FBI to track down a couple of runaway convicts.

In the Season 2 episode "F. Emasculata," Mulder and Scully are sent to a prison to investigate a breakout. But when they arrive, the duo quickly determines there's something mysterious going on behind bars. The FBI agents soon discover a pharmaceutical company has been conducting experiments on the prisoners, and Mulder has to team up with Marshal Tapia (Norris) to chase after two infected escapees.

As you might expect, Mulder and Tapia don't exactly get along. From the moment Norris steps onto the screen, his ultra-brash character immediately starts butting heads with Duchovny's unorthodox agent. After all, Mulder is pretty calm and clearheaded, while Tapia excels at barking orders and kicking down doors. Eventually, the episode comes to a head with an infected prisoner trapped on a bus, and true to form, the two feds spend their last minutes on-screen together debating the proper way to arrest the disease-riddled convict. But in true X-Files fashion, we're left with a depressing ending, forcing our favorite FBI agent to keep on his dogged quest for the truth.

Starship Troopers (1997)

Seven years after Total Recall, Dean Norris reunited with director Paul Verhoeven for Starship Troopers, a massively underrated critique of nationalism, fascism, and the military. This gore-soaked satire follows a rich kid named Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) who joins the Mobile Infantry after graduation. Eventually, he'll ship off to the desert planet of Klendathu to battle an army of arachnids, but before he starts shooting at space bugs, Rico first has to pass basic training.

After showing up at boot camp, Rico quickly impresses his superiors and is promoted to squad leader. Unfortunately, his newfound position doesn't last very long. During a live-fire exercise, Rico tries to help one of his friends with a malfunctioning helmet, but his good intentions result in his comrade taking a bullet to the brain. As a result, Rico is brought before a commanding officer (Norris) who grills Rico for failing to follow safety regulations.

In true Dean Norris fashion, he's grumpy and gruff, but he isn't willing to kick Rico out of the army. Seeing potential in the young soldier, Norris decides to keep him on ... but first he wants to apply a little "administrative punishment." That's military-speak for "flogging," and the officer orders Rico to undergo ten lashes. All in all, it's two quick scenes, back to back, and Norris is only on-screen for a couple of minutes. Still, the actor manages to stand out anyway thanks to his surly attitude, and in a movie populated with character actors like Clancy Brown and Michael Ironside, that's a pretty impressive feat.

The Cell (2000)

Directed by Tarsem Singh, The Cell stirred up quite a bit of controversy when it hit theaters in 2000, with some critics labeling it style over substance and others (including Roger Ebert himself) calling it a masterpiece. Regardless of what side you fall on, we can all agree The Cell is a visually striking horror film with a fantastic performance from Vincent D'Onofrio. And topping things off, we've got the great Dean Norris as Cole, a law enforcement officer who only appears for a few minutes but plays a pivotal role in catching a serial killer.

If you've never seen it, The Cell follows a child psychologist named Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) who communicates with coma patients via a sci-fi technology that allows her to enter their unconscious minds. At first, Deane spends all her time working with a comatose boy, but she's soon asked by FBI agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) to enter the consciousness of a sadomasochistic murderer named Carl Stargher (D'Onofrio) in order to discover the whereabouts of his most recent victim, a young woman who only has a few hours to live before drowning in a specially designed cell.

But when Deane slips into Stargher's subconscious, she finds herself trapped in his nightmare realm. Coming to the rescue, Novak plugs himself into the dream machine and manages to free Deane from the killer's clutches. As the two make their escape, Novak notices a unique symbol stamped onto the side of a glass-like cell in Stargher's mind. The image reminds Novak of a logo he saw in Stargher's real-life basement, one stenciled onto the side of a hoist the killer used as part of his murders.

Believing the insignia to be a clue, Novak has Cole (Norris) investigate where the hoist came from, and–thanks to the balding cop's quick detective work–Novak traces the hoist back to a condemned property that Stargher has turned into his own personal murder dungeon. Sure, Novak gets all the credit for saving the kidnapped woman from drowning, but without Dean Norris on the job, The Cell probably would've had an even darker ending.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Two years before declaring war on Albuquerque's meth heads, Dean Norris was keeping the highways of Arizona safe as a pervy motorcycle cop in Little Miss Sunshine. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, this Sundance hit follows the dysfunctional Hoover family as they make their way from New Mexico to California so 7-year-old Olive (Abigail Breslin) can compete in a beauty pageant.

Of course, the family hits several obstacles along the way, including the death of Olive's grandpa (Alan Arkin). The old man overdoses on heroin miles away from their Redondo Beach destination, forcing the family to steal his corpse, load it up in the family van, and make a quick escape from an Arizona hospital. It's a macabre bonding moment, one that's almost ruined when they're pulled over by State Trooper McCleary (Norris).

Naturally, Olive's dad (Greg Kinnear) gets pretty nervous when the fuzz rolls up, prompting McCleary to check out the back of the van. But instead of spotting grandpa's corpse, he notices a couple of porno mags. Assuming they belong to Kinnear (they really belong to Arkin ... well, most of them, anyway), McCleary promises not to rat him out to his wife and lets the family go on their way. It's a pretty funny moment, but what's really interesting is that Norris isn't the only Breaking Bad star to show up in Little Miss Sunshine. Next time you rewatch the film, keep an eye out for the smarmy agent Stan Grossman, played by none other than Bryan Cranston himself.

Lost (2009)

The year 2009 was a pretty busy one for Dean Norris. Season 2 of Breaking Bad was on the air, and the actor appeared in both True Blood and The Cleaner. And while Hank Schrader was busy dealing with PTSD over on AMC, Norris made a brief appearance on ABC's Lost, playing in the Season 5 episode "Some Like It Hoth."

A Miles-centric episode, "Some Like It Hoth" mainly focuses on the clairvoyant character played by Ken Leung and his relationship with his estranged father, Dr. Pierre Chang (Francois Chau). In typical Lost fashion, the episode bounces back and forth through time, jumping from the 1970s to the mid-2000s. In 1977, the time-traveling Miles finally gets to meet his dad at the Dharma Initiative, but in the 2004 flashbacks, we see Miles dealing with the fact that he never knew his father.

Yeah, all this mythology stuff is confusing, but what's important is that Dean Norris shows up in the 2004 flashbacks (flash-forwards?). Playing a man named Howard Gray, Norris's character hires Miles to psychically communicate with his dead son. Gray's kid died in a car wreck, and now he wants to make sure his son knew he loved him. At first, Miles pretends to connect with the dead kid's spirit, saying the son knew about his father's feelings. But later on, Miles tells Gray he was lying the whole time and was never able to contact Howard's boy.

Obviously, Gray is pretty shocked and asks why Miles couldn't keep on with the lie. The medium replies that it wouldn't have been fair to Howard's kid, and that he should've told his son that he loved him while he was still alive. It's a devastating sequence, allowing Norris to show us some pretty deep emotions. He's a man wracked with sadness and guilt, and Norris brilliantly conveys a life of remorse in just a few seconds.

Under the Dome (2013-2015)

Dean Norris has kept himself pretty busy since Breaking Bad ended in 2013. He's shown up in movies like The Counselor and Fist Fight. He's also appeared in TV shows such as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Big Bang Theory. But one of his most notable roles came in CBS's adaptation of the Stephen King novel, Under the Dome, playing the intimidating character of Big Jim Rennie. And while the show itself met with mixed reactions, Norris was definitely one of the highlights, impressing audiences with his two-faced performance of a Machiavellian murderer.

The basic premise of the show is pretty simple. The citizens of Chester's Mill, Maine, find themselves trapped beneath an invisible dome. And since this is based on a Stephen King story, things go downhill really fast. Into all this madness steps Big Jim, a town councilman who runs a used car lot and a pretty big drug ring. (Hank Schrader would be so disappointed.) After the dome slams down, Big Jim takes control, doing his best to keep things running smoothly, even if that means killing a few people along the way.

Talking to Huffington Post, Norris described his character as "lizard-like" and "amoral," about the complete opposite of Breaking Bad's Hank Schrader. As the actor explained, "He loves his town, but I think he's probably, at some level, psychopathic. He likes to be in charge. Stephen King told me I was Dick Cheney." Indeed, Norris plays Big Jim to manipulative perfection, proving he's great at portraying complicated authority figures.