Richard Norton

Richard Norton

Birthday: 6 January 1950, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Height: 188 cm
A powerful screen presence, Richard Norton wins the applause of international audiences with his engaging ability to play either the hero or the heavy. Rare versatility and focused work ethic have enabled him to build an expanding library of almost 100 film and television titles. The disciplines that brought Norton success originated in his hometow... Show more »
A powerful screen presence, Richard Norton wins the applause of international audiences with his engaging ability to play either the hero or the heavy. Rare versatility and focused work ethic have enabled him to build an expanding library of almost 100 film and television titles. The disciplines that brought Norton success originated in his hometown of Croydon, Australia, and his early fascination with martial arts. By age 17 he was a karate black belt working security for nightclubs and serving as chief instructor to 500 karate schools nationwide. He landed a job as bodyguard to The Rolling Stones during the band's Australian tour and experienced his first brush with the demands of global celebrity. Norton trained with Mick Jagger in 4:00 a.m. workouts after concerts. His competency attracted a dazzling roster of other rock star client√®le including James Taylor, ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie and Linda Ronstadt, who invited him to California as her bodyguard. Before Aussies invaded Hollywood in posses, Norton ventured there alone. A friendship with Chuck Norris brought him work in motion pictures. Norris cast Norton as the lethal Kyo, a masked ninja, in The Octagon (1980), and their grueling final combat endures as a classic cinematic fight scene. Director Robert Clouse chose Norton to be one of the ensemble heroes in Force: Five (1981), an international hit, and the young martial artist's career in movies took off. His reputation for stellar performances emerged largely from high-energy Hong Kong films directed by Sammo Kam-Bo Hung and starring Jackie Chan in the mid-'80s. Muscular charisma made Norton the perfect Anglo bad boy for Xia ri fu xing (1985) and Foo gwai lit che (1986). Taking the hits of his screen adversaries in those films earned Norton more Hong Kong work and, notably, Chan's abiding respect. Richard calls Jackie "the maestro of martial arts movies." Jackie has returned the compliment by recruiting Norton as one of just two Western actors to perform in several of his Hong Kong-based productions, including the comedic cult favorite Cheng shi nu lie ren (1993) and the darker Yat goh ho yan (1997), directed by Hung. Hung encouraged Norton to play the "Guy" nemesis, a well-heeled gangster, with eccentric edginess. Norton embraced the direction and delivered one of the best co-starring performances in all of Chan's films. The success of Norton's Hong Kong work made him an established star in action films and a frequent cover subject for global martial arts and movie magazines. His collaborations with Cynthia Rothrock catapulted them to a level of fame that inspired a British magazine to deem them the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of martial arts movies. The recurring partners produced two Rage and Honor (1992) movies, besides co-starring in China O'Brien (1990) and Lady Dragon (1992), among other titles. They reunited for Redemption (2002) with 'Don 'The Dragon' Wilson'. Norton nurtured his leading man status in crime dramas, MIA pictures and futuristic adventures that often featured his real-life training partners in supporting roles, such as Chuck Jeffreys in Rage (1994) and Benny Urquidez in The Fighter (1989). With standout performances in The Sword of Bushido (1990) and Under the Gun (1995), Norton displayed his attraction to heroes with dimensions, even flaws, that force them into action. His style of action incorporates the humor essential to humanizing a hero. It is the dark comedy in Mind Games (2003), directed by Adrian Carr, that enables Norton to triumph in another well-textured role as a suspicious Texan, demonstrating that he takes risks as an actor who ventures beyond action genres. Norton's credits behind the camera have become as diverse as his screen roles. Apart from acting and producing, he is a sought-after stunt/fight coordinator, choreographing action in films such as Köshpendiler (2005), produced by Milos Forman, and Devil's Pond (2003), with Tara Reid and Kip Pardue. Despite a busy career, he continues to achieve black belts in the martial arts, always a motivating force for Norton's accomplishments Show less «