Monday, September 3, 2012
Texas/Hollywood Connections Bring ‘I Am . . . Gabriel’ To Life
Mike Norris shares is extraordinary story as the son of legendary actor, Chuck Norris, and gives details of his latest movie
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
DALLAS, TX (ANS) -- Mike Norris (born 1963) is an American actor who has appeared in over two dozen films. He is the son of the legendary actor and martial arts champion Chuck Norris and 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.
In an interview for my Front Page Radio show, Norris told me, “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.”
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.”
“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.”
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 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.”
“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.”
Now, flash forward to Justin, Texas, in 2011—about as far from Hollywood as you can get. A small group of friends knew nothing about the film industry and and wanted to make a movie about the power of prayer.
So they were connected with . . . you guessed it: Mike Norris, who by that time was living in the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound and acting and directing in faith-focused films through his production company 2nd Fiddle Entertainment.
The result is: I Am . . . Gabriel, a film about divine intervention in daily life and the power of prayer to make things new. Norris co-wrote the film with Kaci Hill from an original story by Neal Odom. It tells the tale of Promise, Texas, a hardscrabble, drought-plagued town, where residents feel cursed since a tragedy a decade earlier.
Then a young boy appears, wandering out of the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on his back, a prayer mat slung over his shoulder and a message of hope for the town: God knows and God cares. I Am . . . Gabriel weaves the effects this young boy has on several townspeople (Norris portrays one), each facing difficulty, each ultimately forced to choose to believe God wants to help them or to reject that help.
Also in the movie is Jenn Gotzon, whose breakthrough role as Tricia Nixon in Ron Howard’s film, Frost/Nixon, plays Monroe, the towns’ news reporter. “She dreams big and wants to be a big time journalist but works at her small newspaper and is always looking for a good human interest story,” explained Gotzon in a media interview.
Filmed in Justin and featuring many from the community, I Am . . . Gabriel shows the transformation possible—in a town and in the lives of its people—when God is at work.
During my previous with Norris, he 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.”
For interviews, contact: Monique Sondag at Monique@Lovell-Fairchild.com 214-536-4319.
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