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Monday, August 8, 2011

He’s the son of Chuck Norris and the boss of 2nd Fiddle Entertainment
But Mike Norris says he is actually playing 2nd Fiddle to Jesus Christ

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

DALLAS, TEXAS (ANS) -- Mike Norris (born 1963) is an American actor who has appeared in over two dozen films. He is the son of the more famous actor and martial arts champion Chuck Norris. He starred in the 1986 drama film Born American and the 1991 action film Delta Force 3: The Killing Game. He also wrote, directed and starred in the 2009 Christian film, Birdie & Bogey.

Mike Norris pictured with his wife Valerie

On May 23, 1992, Norris married his wife Valerie. They have 3 children. Norris and his wife own the 2nd Fiddle Entertainment movie studio. Through 2nd Fiddle Entertainment Norris has written produced and directed the films Birdie & Bogey and Maggie's Passage. Norris and his studio are currently working on a new movie.

Having previous interviewed his father, I was delighted to be able to catch up with Mike Norris recently during a phone interview from his studios in Dallas, Texas, for my Front Page Radio show and began by asking him about his early life with his famous Dad and the time he directed his him for eight seasons on Walker Texas Ranger, the famous TV series.

Mike began by explaining that he was not brought up in Hollywood.

“I was raised outside of Hollywood in the south bay area of Palos Verdes,” he said. “I was born and raised there and even as my father’s success kind of grew, in my teen-age years we stayed out of the Hollywood lifestyle. It wasn’t really until I grew up got on my own that I jumped into the Hollywood way of life but my parents did a great job of keeping me sheltered and grounded as a kid.”

I shared with Mike that I had once been a correspondent for the National Enquirer and so I wondered if he ever got into the paper.

Poster for the hit series starring Chuck Norris

“Well they were going to try to do a story about me, but fortunately the facts weren’t all there and they got me mixed up with Chuck Connor’s son and so fortunately I didn’t get into that paper after all,” he said. “But still, there were plenty of reasons back in those days that they could have written about. The Lord knows that if I was living in the media that is out there today, people could have had a much different view of me. But by the grace of God it wasn’t like that.”

Was he a rebel in his early days?

“I was and let me tell you what’s really sad, and possibly encouraging, is that I accepted Christ as a child and when you accept Christ you are in Christ. However, through my late teens to my early twenty years, I just got caught up in a really bad life style, running with bad people and doing bad things.

“But yet, in my mind, I kept asking myself why I was doing all these crazy things. Fortunately, I was able to get out from under the bondage of the drinking and all that stuff that happened in my early years and eventually was able to really dedicate myself to Christ and to the ministry.

“I’ve always wanted to create and little did I know that something that was in my heart some twenty-five years ago wouldn’t actually come to fruition for fifteen years. So it’s funny how you pray and pray and until it happens, you never know God’s timing, but God’s timing is perfect.”

Mike said the turning point in his life was when he met his wife Valerie at the age of 21. He said that he had seen so much dysfunction in marriages he had seen that he didn’t want his to turn out like so many others in the movie business.

“We were standing in that church and I meant it when I said in front of everybody -- and also in front of God – that I was marrying my wife for life! I realized that I had been a party boy, and that and being married wasn’t going to work. So at that point, there in the church, I said to myself, ‘Mike get your act together. Be a man. Be a Godly man be a Godly husband.

“So that’s really when everything started to change for me in a drastic way.”

Dan Wooding interviewing Chuck Norris on the Red Carpet in Hollywood

Mike Norris then talked about his acting career. “I came into directing after doing a bunch of really bad ‘B’ action movies during the eighties and nineties. At that time, Dad was at the height of his popularity. He was making movie after movie and then the VHS video recorder came out and now all of a sudden they need a lot of product. Some of the studios said that would like to have Chuck Norris star in their movies, but that would cost millions, so they decided ‘let’s put Norris up there real big’ and put ‘Mike in small letters and pay him a fraction of the cost.’ I have to admit that I made a good living and had a great time making these movies and I learned the foundation of making films through that process.”

Did he play similar roles to his father?

“Yeah, I kicked, punched and delivered my lines,” he laughed. “I realize that they were just trying to capitalize off of the Norris name which was fine by me.”

So then how did he get involved with directing the Walker Texas Ranger Series?

“I was just finishing up a project in Los Angeles and they started the first season of Walker,” he told me. “It was a turning point and had been well received and I was thinking that it really would be nice to be part of the show, especially as my brother and my uncle, and of course my Dad, were all working on it. I was really the last one to come on board.

“I had to work my way up to then time when I was offered a spot to direct one of the episodes. I was really paying my dues on the Walker episodes and then my Dad came up to me and said, ‘OK, we’re giving you a shot to direct, and then he added, ‘I’ve got to tell you that the other directors that we have had, their leashes maybe six feet long, but your leash is two feet long.’ So I knew right away that I had to jump in and do a good job or he would have fired me right off the bat.

“To start with, I was actually quite terrified, but it was such a great crew that did the show so that by the time I jumped in and was directing, it was a well-oiled machine. I just kind of really wanted to, more than anything else, stay out of the way and not mess things up. But my Dad was the great white shark on that show and I knew that whatever he said went. You never questioned anything he said.

“It was an amazing experience and what was great about it was how God was working through this whole thing on Walker, so that by the last three seasons, we started implementing faith-based messages in it.”

How did this come about?

“Well I think my Dad had some extensive conversations with Leslie Moonat at CBS at the time, and we did a show in which we actually, in a fictional sense, used the name of Jesus Christ for television. We’d never done that before and I was blessed to be the director of that episode and I knew that once Walker was done I wanted to go into make films to glorify Jesus Christ. I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen. I didn’t know anything. All I knew was that our prayers were that someday, somehow, I wanted to make films that glorified Christ and have it be a ministry of some sort.

“But I’m not a preacher and I’m not the most knowledgeable person about the Bible, but still, I knew in my heart, that I could tell stories and that I’m a good filmmaker and so maybe this was what God was setting up all along.”

I put it to Mike Norris that some people have criticized the quality of Christian films, so did that concern him?


“I don’t think it was a concern of mine because if you believe that God is in control then it’ll be a blessed project,” he said. “Now that was really the biggest lesson that I have learned and our company is called Second Fiddle Entertainment and I realize that if we just do the work and let God make the movie, it’ll be blessed.

“You see, we are just playing second fiddle and we are just trying to move the pieces. I’ve seen God manifest His mighty power in so many amazing ways on the set. When I’m thinking that ‘we’re doomed,’ ‘this is terrible’ and ‘Oh no, what are we going to do now?’ I have learned that if I just say, ‘OK God, You’re in control’ and then just listen to that little voice, things will work out.

“This has been my biggest problem when there have been times that often, I don’t listen to that little voice that’s in my head, and then things don’t work out. I have finally learned to open up and let God talk to me instead of tuning Him out. So now we have transitioned in making movies for the full faith market.

Poster for the film

“We did a couple of family movies, one of which was Birdie & Bogey which I wrote, produced and directed, and it’s out there right now. Another was Maggie’s Passage, which was really an amazing film about adoption and being chosen as an adoptive child being chosen.”

Mike then revealed that he is now going into production of a new movie called I am Gabriel.

“It’s a film about prayer. It’s really is the most important thing we can do is to communicate with God,” he said. It stars John Schneider, Dean Cain, Jenn Gotzon and Sheran Keyton. We start filming August sixteenth and, God willing, we’ll have it all wrapped up in December and it’ll be ready the first of the year.”

I concluded by talking with Mike about the constant media stream of salacious stories about fallen stars.

“Hollywood’s changed so much because it used to be that to become a celebrity you went out, worked hard made good movies and people responded to that. Now people are stars for really doing nothing,” he said.

“For instance, Paris Hilton is famous for being famous. I blame the viewer as much as anybody else,” he went on. “That’s what they’re exposed to and so that’s what they’re going to watch. It’s a very, very sad thing that we give them [the media] that power. We’re the ones watching the shows which the advertisers pay gobs of money to promote, so I think it’s up to us as Christians to pull back what they are viewing and only support content that has a good positive message.

“I would like to say a good positive Christian message, but maybe let’s just start at positive family message and work from there. I mean, my ultimate goal is to try to lead somebody to look in the mirror and say, ‘There’s got to be more to life than this.’

“But it’s crazy and it’s really unfortunate how today’s media is so fast and they have so much time to fill up and people like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are going to do what they are going to do regardless.”

Norris then said, “Everybody has a choice and I made a choice that when I got married and had kids I decided to get out of LA. I have no need to be famous to be a celebrity or any of that stuff. It means zero to me. My time here on earth is so short and my time in heaven is going to be forever. So for all of us, our time here on earth, is just a blink of an eye. I was just twenty years old in Hollywood and was acting a fool. Now I’ve got a daughter in Europe right now on a mission’s trip. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

“I believe if a child authentically sees their parents acting good or bad, they then decide on their own how they are going to act when they grow up. They are at an age where they can decipher that properly and by the grace of God I have three children that I know I will be with for eternity and also with my lovely wife.

“So I’ve won no matter what else.”

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Note: I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.

Dan Wooding, 70, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 48 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He now hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on KWVE in Southern California which is also carried throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK and also in Belize and South Africa. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 200 countries. You can follow Dan on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. He is the author of some 44 books. Two of the latest include his autobiography, “From Tabloid to Truth”, which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, press this link. Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel “Red Dagger” which is available this link.

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