1) Sir,You started as a bodyguard for Rolling Stones,Fleetwood Mac and Abba-Any funny stories ?
Wow, I don’t even know where to start with this one. I had so many great and wonderful times on tour with some of the legends of Rock and Roll. Okay, one funny time I remember was when I was on the road with the legendary Joe Cocker back in the 70’s. One night my partner Bob Jones and I, decided to take Joe and some of the band out for the night in Sydney. So, after some bar hopping, we ended up in a bar that had a drag queen show, as you do when you are bored and looking for a different night on the town. Right? Hah! Anyway, the whole night ended up with a whole bunch of people in Joe’s suite for a late night drink. Joe was pretty drunk by now and as the night moved on, I noticed him on the floor in a deep and meaningful conversation with a really beautiful blonde. All was going well until I see Joe starting to nibble on the girls neck and get pretty flirty. I decided it was time to lean in and whisper in Joe’s ear that the ‘blonde’ he was with was in fact a guy. Well, to that, Joe loudly protested Nooo!. So, back to his flirting behavior he went, until finally, in the middle of a pretty passionate embrace, this ‘Blonde’ suddenly, in a voice deeper than mine, says,”You know Joe, I really am a man”. Well, you think you have seen Joe fidget with himself on stage whilst singing a song, that was nothing to the astonishment and shock on Joe’s face at the realization of the situation he had gotten himself in. Bob and I were on the floor in stitches, laughing our butts off. Of course, we took it on ourselves to remind Joe on a daily basis for the rest of the tour of his little ‘adventure. Another funny time was whilst on tour with The Rolling Stones back in 1973. The Stones tour manager, Peter Rudge, got into a little practical joke war with our aussie tour manager and after a while it got to be serious business. So serious that the aussie’s actually went as far as to get into Peter Rudge’s hotel suite and open every drawer and closet. They then acquired over 300 pigeons which were let loose in Peter’s hotel room. Well, you can imagine what the room was like when the Stones tour manager finally got back to his room that night. Everything thing he owned from his clothes to personal possessions was covered in pigeon shit. I mean everything. Too funny.
2) Seems you worked with Cynthia Rothrock, Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan the most;Can you describe each in one sentence ?
Cynthia and I were once described in an English magazine as ‘The Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire of Martial Arts movies’, and I think that aptly describes the wonderful relationship that Cynthia and I had whilst working together all those years. Chuck Norris is the type of loyal and principled person that only comes along but rarely in one’s lifetime and I feel fortunate to call have him as a dear and respected friend. Jackie Chan to me is the absolute true Maestro of martial arts and action movies.
3) You are probably the most articulate of Martial Artist,Will you or have you written a film or directed one ?
No, I haven’t written or plan to write a movie script anytime soon. I think script writing is a real art and should be left to those who have a real passion in that area. I mean I do know a good script when I read one and feel more than capable of suggesting modifications to the way a scene or character is written. But that’s about the extent of it for me. Now Directing is another story. I feel I will definitely direct something in the not too distant future as that is something I could handle. I have done a considerable amount of 2nd Unit directing and must say I really enjoyed the process very much. I think I have waited this long because, as with writing, I feel Directing also takes a considerable amount of knowledge and talent that is all to often, taken too lightly. I can’t tell you how many sets I have been on where you have a young Director who is technically proficient, but has absolutely no clue as to performance. It is one thing to know a bit about lighting and where to place a camera, but to really understand the actors craft and how to help with choices in a scene and make a scene ‘work’, now that takes a different type of skill. If people could realisethe amount of study and time some of the great actors put into their study of character breakdown etc, they would better appreciate the skill level necessary for a Director to be able to fulfill his task of being the ‘conductor’ of the movie process, capable of bringing so many aspects of film making into the kind of harmony that makes for a great movie experience. I feel that having spent so many years now on movie sets has at least given me the basic skills necessary to give directing the ‘right’ movie a shot. We will see.
4) Any major injuries or accidents happen to you ?
You know, I feel I have been incredibly lucky in that respect and have yet to sustain anything serious. I of course have had my share of knocks and bruises. I had my nose broken whilst shooting Mr.. Nice Guy with Jackie Chan. Oh yes, I also got hit in the head by a sword wielding ‘friend’ Cynthia, whilst shooting an action movie in Hong Kong. That was mainly because of the ridiculous hours you spend daily on set in Hong Kong movies. We had been shooting fight stuff for over 17 hours one night and Cynthia and I were getting pretty tired. I was supposed to duck and thought I was and she thought she was accurate with the sword but none the less, I copped it above the eye. The producer took me to hospital where I was given 8 stitches without any anesthetic, as they didn’t want my eye to swell up. Then it was back on the set within half an hour with my head turned away from camera and on with the fight. Hey, I’ve always said, it’s not table tennis. Doing these kinds of movies always leaves you open to the possibility of some chance of injury. Wouldn’t trade it for the world though.
5) Cynthia Rothrock, Has a new comicbook,Will you be making a drawn appearance in its pages ?
Well, now this is the first I’ve heard about a new comic book. You see, all this talk about my dear friend Cynthia and I haven’t even received the courtesy phone call about my character. That’s it then, we’re through.
6) You fight choreographed THE CONDEMNED with Stone Cold Steve Austin & Vinnie Jones. Are wrestlers in the spot of martial artists as action stars ? Any gossip on set ?
I don’t think that wrestlers are so much in the spot of martial artists as much as just another good pool of talent suitable for those types of movies. So many of the WWE stars for instance are such big, well built and physically talented guys with an already built in huge fan base. I mean you know that an entrepreneur the caliber of Vince McMahon readily recognizes the money making star quality of some of his stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin. Look at the huge numbers the WWE super shows generate both live and on PPV television and to not take advantage of the huge exposure their stars have and give them a crack at the silver screen would not be in any way logical in a business sense. I should say that the pre buzz on Steve’s performance in ‘The Condemned’ is really good. The movie has a theatrical release date of April 27th and by reports so far it has turned out to be terrific. I mean we know that there will be a certain amount of great action and fight scenes, because I choreographed them,c’mon, just kidding. But the main excitement comes from the fact that there is a great story to go along with the action. Hey, go figure, some great drama in an action flic. I had a great time during the shooting of The Condemned. Vinnie Jones, from ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and ”Snatch co stars and was a hoot to work with. He is a non stop practical joker and just one of the ‘lads’. By the way, that explains my new short hair do as I ended up as Fight Double for Vinnie. Anyway,one day he heard that Steve was going to sleep overnight in his on set trailer because we were out on location and it saved a considerable trip back to the hotel. Well, Vinnie waited for the opportune moment and snuck into Steve’s bus and took nearly an hour covering the opening of Steve’s toilet with glad wrap. I mean he told me he was meticulous in getting rid of every wrinkle in the glad wrap so that it made it all but invisible. So that night, Steve has apparently gone to take a piss and ended up peeing all over his pants and feet. Steve was hilarious when he was telling us,”I was suddenly getting drowned in my own piss and thinking, ‘what the F**k, I’m aiming dead center in the bowl. Of course from then on it was war. Everybody was totally on alert to watch their backs.(and their feet.) Again, I really believe this is going to be a great action movie, so keep an eye out for it when it is released in April.
7) Why do you think you have played so many villains ,like in ROAD HOUSE 2 ?
Hey, I’m always asked that and yet I’ve played a lot of good guys. How about Rage and Honor 1&2 and China O’Brien and Under the Gun? Okay, so I have also played more than my share of ‘baddie’s’. I’m not sure why but I certainly don’t mind. Playing the bad guy can be so much more fun as if you are the hero, you have to be so careful that every thing you do is liked by the audience, whereas you can do almost anything as the ‘baddie’, and as long as the audience hate your guts at the end of the movie you have done your job. Of course in Hong Kong movies, the ‘gweilo’, or western actor, is more than often the baddie as of course they want to see you beaten up by the Asian good guy. I must admit though that I have always said that the downside of being the villain in these flics is that you usually get beaten up or killed and you never, ever get the gorgeous heroine. Oh well, as long as they pay me, right?
8) You have a slogan like most action stars,After hitting the hero ; You quip ” PAINFUL “So,Where are the t-shirts and bumper stickers,etc?
Hey, don’t laugh. I mentioned your idea to a friend of mine who is pushing me to get some merchandise out there and he really liked the idea. This could be our ticket out of here, what do you think? Hah!
9) Do you have a flashy move,For example: Jean-Claude Van Damme with his leg splits/Chuck Norris and his kicks/Steven Seagal with that arm twisting thing ?
I don’t feel I have any one flashy signature move. I do know I have fast hands and probably like quick and realistic hand combinations. I also feel my moves tend towards being a bit more ‘realistic’ than some as the one thing I do know from my experience as a bouncer and personal body-guard is that real street fights are anything but clean and pretty so I like putting a kind of untidiness into my choreography when given the chance. You know, make it look gutsy and real. This is why I particularly enjoyed the action in the latest James Bond movie. I know it is still over the top because it is still a movie afterall, but the fights had a great roughness and raw quality to them that I felt really worked. I must say I am so over the ‘wire’ work seen in so many fight movies of late. I just want it to get back to people that are great at what they do just keeping their feet on the ground and displaying really good practical and powerful moves that I feel would be to some extent believable in the real world. Think of the way they shot Bruce Lee in the classic, ‘Enter the Dragon’.
10) HERE,Is your chance.What do you want to leave with your fans,Some nugget of truth,or what ?
You know, I started my Martial Arts training at age 11 and honestly just wanted to be the best Martial Artist I could be. Now everything great that has happened in my life, including working on wonderful locations with terrific actors in so many countries in the world and touring with so many of the legends of Rock and Roll in their time, has just come as a result of having a passion for my martial arts endeavors and pursuing that dream. I wouldn’t honestly trade my past experiences in life with anyone and that says something about passion. So I simply implore those of you who feel that their lives are full of drudgery or whatever to just find something to be truly passionate about. Something that makes you excited about getting up out of bed each morning and counter balance the aspects in your life associated with the struggle of ‘just making a living’. But do it now. Don’t wait, as one thing I know for sure is that we are here for a good time, not a long time. One little thing I would like to finish with is to suggest to your readers to get a copy of the DVD, ‘The Secret’. I honestly believe the thoughts in this little doco can be literally life changing.
Thanks for the opportunity to do this little interview Chris and I wish all your readers the very best in whatever they choose to accomplish.
Richard Norton.(originally blogged (c) 2009)