The dictionary defines a legend as “an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.” As far as I’m concerned, Chuck Norris fits this description exceptionally well. All too often, children of “legends” do their best to break away and make their way in this world without what they might consider the “crutch” of name recognition of a famous parent. When I had the opportunity to interview Mike Norris, the director of the film AmericGEDDON, I was assured that I would like him, but I was unsure about whether I should bring up his famous father. I wondered if maybe he grew weary of his renowned dad always making an appearance in anything he did, whether literally or figuratively. Well, let’s just say, Mike himself set me straight on my concerns as we chatted recently about his somewhat provocative new film.
I didn’t realize who you were until I was talking to Marshall Teague when I interviewed him not too long ago, and he is one who has very high regard for you.
That’s very kind of him. He’s a great man. I’ve known Marshall forever. Love him to death.
I wanted to interview you specifically about AmeriGEDDON.
Great! That’s what I’m talking to everyone about now.
I was so excited the morning I got to see you on Fox & Friends. I had just interviewed Marshall. Unfortunately, the movie is not showing in our state.
It’s kind of tricky, the whole film distribution, especially when you have a film that has a very strong message. We’re from Phoenix to Grand Rapids, Michigan–and that was kind of our first rollout. We really weren’t expecting much more beyond that. Thankfully, people came out. People supported it. It’s far more than a movie to us. It was never meant to be something to compete with Hollywood. This was really a message that Gary [Heavin] and I really wanted to put out there in a fictional sense of what we believe the near future could look like. Little did we know–we were on 30 screens–we were the number two or number three movie for each screen where we were showing. That was a grassroots ground swell of patriots that said “We’re going to support this film. We believe in the message, and we’re going to go support it.” I couldn’t be thankful enough.
Where did you get your inspiration for this film?
After I was done with Walker, Texas Ranger, I committed myself to doing faith-based movies. I’ve done a whole bunch of those. My partner in the film business is Gary Heavin–a great Christian man–but he is very political, and he’s very well-read, and he wanted to create a project to kind of poke at the bee’s nest, so to speak. Kind of maybe wake some people up to what’s really going on in Washington D.C., and scenarios that could take place that could throw our country into total chaos. It’s very clear with just a little research that Washington D.C. is a bought-and-paid-for corrupt criminal Tabal. And it breaks my heart to have to say that, but the more research I’ve done, the more that’s become something I understand and recognize. And that comes from the words of Henry Kissinger, who says, “All we need is chaos in America for a new world order to take over.” Out of his own mouth–you can watch it on YouTube. George H. W. Bush says we will have a new world order. And that’s scary, scary stuff. What our goal was with AmeriGEDDON was just to create a conversational piece to get people to possibly think and do their own research about what’s really happening in our country.
That’s really commendable.
Well, it’s got me fully blackballed from ever working in Hollywood again. But, you know, oh well. (laughs)
I can see that, but it’s good to see people like you who stick to their convictions. There’s so much garbage out there. It’s good to have a film that has a message like this, even if it’s a message some people don’t want us to hear.
That’s absolutely true. We’re getting creamed with reviews. People either love it, or they hate it. They get it, or we’re total wackos. And that just goes to show the great divide we have within our country. But I’ve got thick skin. I can take it. I know how important this film was for Gary. And it was very important to me that I was able to take his vision that he had and put it up on screen and tell the story he wanted to tell. That was my goal for AmeriGEDDON.
So how did you go about casting for this film?
Casting was difficult. We put out a lot of offers to some big-name actors and actresses. Most of them–their agents said, “Hey, you cannot do this. If you do this movie, you will be out.” But there were some people who said, “Yes, this is something I believe in.” Diane Ladd, four-time Academy Award nominated actress. She came in and played a pivotal role. Marshall Teague, who is just such a great patriot, came in and played a great part. But it all came together the way it was supposed to come together. If you don’t have big names in movies, it’s really hard to sell a film. I’m proud of what we got. I’m proud of the film. It was very difficult because we always had so much push-back and resistance from Hollywood.
There were days when things went really well, and we had days when things went really wrong. We were filming in January, February, and March of last year, and it just happened to be a horribly cold winter in Texas last year. So we were constantly fighting elements and the weather. And on an independent film, we just can’t say, “Okay, let’s stop, and we’ll do this later.” When you’re on a tight budget, you’ve just got to keep pressing on. And I just commend the cast and the crew for sticking with us and pressing on through the hard times.
There were a lot of great moments. We did a helicopter battle at the end of the movie. In Hollywood, they could have done that with all CGI. But we had two real helicopters coming within feet of each other doing this helicopter battle at the end. It’s really spectacular.
And then it was interesting to me to see after we filmed the movie and how it all cut together, especially with Marshall Teague and our young hero, Spencer Neville. They really connected in the film even though one’s a good guy and one’s a bad guy. It was just interesting to see the dynamics of them come together and come to screen. The little nuances I didn’t’ really notice on the day, but it wasn’t until I got into editing that I was able to find these really cool nuggets of acting, and seeing it cut together better than I’d hoped. Those were really the good things.
I hadn’t realized the weather was that bad in Texas last year.
It would either be icing, snowing, raining. And it was just really cold. And we were filming nights. I’m an early-to-bed, early-to-rise person, so filming nights is a little rough on me.
It comes to DVD in October. We had to put it out in theaters for our DVD deal. That was part of the agreement. We had to put it out in theaters, invest that money and time to put it in theaters. We started out with six screens opening weekend, and more are still being added. That is strictly people that believe in the cause. This isn’t typical Hollywood–“let’s see a glamorous movie.” It’s the message. And that’s what we’re trying to get out there. Just so thankful that people came out and supported it. So we’re expanding and trying to get to the people that want to see it. We’re not going to get everywhere. But it will be available on DVD in October, and now Sony Pictures has come on, and they’re distributing it for us in the DVD/VOD market. It’s very exciting news. But it just goes to show that Hollywood will bend its way on their beliefs. If there’s something they feel can make money, then they’ll get on board. Which I understand. I get it. But even if they totally oppose what it’s about, they’ll jump on board if there’s a couple of bucks to be made.
Well, I think that is about all since I just wanted to focus mainly on the film.
Nothing about Chuck Norris?
Well, I could ask you about him.
He’s why I’m here. I do not run away or hide anything of the fact that I’m Chuck Norris’ son. I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities because of who my father is. And my father has done so many amazing things. He’s created an amazing legacy, and it is very important to me. I do not take that lightly–being the son of Chuck Norris. I do not take lightly all his accomplishments. And it is very important to me that I represent not only my father, but myself and my name in a proper manner. To never besmirch the Norris name. It is something my dad worked very, very hard on, and I’m honored that I have the opportunity to carry on that name in my own way.
From what I can see, you certainly do honor him.
Absolutely. I know a lot of sons or daughters of famous people can’t handle it. I find that really, really sad that they just go off the rails. I mean, there are a few exceptions. But I have absolutely embraced it, and if I live in Chuck Norris’ shadow, that’s not a bad place to live.
And I was dead serious when I said to Mike that he honors his father in the way he lives his own life. In so many ways, I severely chastised myself after this interview because I thought, “Why didn’t I ask him about his father?!” It wasn’t from a lack of desire, that is for sure. But as I considered everything Mike had mentioned–his unwavering convictions, his sense of purpose, his dogged determination–there is no question that he fully reveres his father’s legacy in so many ways. Furthermore, the fact that he refused to end the conversation without honoring his father with such loving and respectful words demonstrates exactly the depth of feeling he has for his father. He is not attempting to depart from the legacy his father has established. Quite the contrary. Mike is one about whom one can say beyond any shadow of doubt: “Like father, Heck yeah, like son!” While I am unable to see AmeriGEDDON in my state at this time, I encourage every one of you who are looking to be challenged in your beliefs about our country and its future to check out this film at the links below. Though unpopular with many of the political pundits who wish to continue to spin the idea that all is well within this nation of ours, I refuse to stand by and believe the fairy tale that some in the media and our government continue to feed us. While I have yet to see this film, I venerate and celebrate the convictions of both Marshall Teague (whom I interviewed here) and director Mike Norris.
Find out more about AmeriGEDDON: