Jeremy Norton: from small town to big screen
For many the typical story of “Small Town Boy Makes it Big” has become a cliché, but the adventure that brought Jeremy James Douglas Norton on the clear road to fame is far from typical because Jeremy is far from typical. Born and raised in Bridge City, Norton graduated from Bridge City High School in 1995. He played football here and went on to McNeese where he also participated in the sport. Hits to the knees and three surgeries to repair the injuries ended his football playing days.
After coming back to attend Lamar University, he found a new and greater passion; theater.
“I fell in love both with making movies and acting. I devoured it,” Norton said. “I grew up in Bridge City, played Little League and football. It’s a great town full of blue collar workers. I learned a good work ethic. It’s still my home at heart.”
For this small town boy that hard work ethic is starting to turn gold as his career in the acting field is starting to take off.
“I know every aspect of the movie making process,” he said. “I have worked as a light man and an actor. I took every conceivable class to learn about it all at Lamar. “
He graduated from Lamar in 2002 but is still one of the students theater professor and local film makers use in the festival and competition or teaching productions. The oldest of three children, he says his parents, Jerome and Margaret Norton, and siblings have been, “A great supporting cast. After I couldn’t play sports I got a little depressed. ”
Another member of that supporting cast has been his high school sweet heart and wife, Susan (Bennett) Norton.
“I know this will sound strange but I was fortunate enough to have a bad accident that changed my way of thinking,” he said.
The freak accident involved a simple stunt gone wrong, but caused head injures and some post traumatic stress issues.
“When things like that happen you it puts your whole life in perspective. You want to really live life every day.”
Norton has done that, with help and support from family and friends.
Now residing in Austin, Norton has just finished filming his latest film on location in Conroe, Texas. “Return to Vengence” is a saga film of good and evil in which Norton plays the consummate bad guy. Though his character, Klu has a one on one battle with Lorenzo Lamas in which Klu meets his death. Also in the film are Daniel Baldwin and Corbin Timbrook. The film wrapped on Monday and has gone into post production and is slated to be released in 2012. It is produced by a Texas company out of Tomball, Rusty Yankee Productions.
“They have become like family,” Norton said, “they are a small production company but very professionally run. They kept on schedule and started when they said and wrapped when they said.”
He confides that it is a different experience on each set he has worked on but has found it all had learning value for him.
“I have loved every minute of it. This latest experience has just been amazing.”
He remains humbled by all of it and has no desire to do anything but be a great actor.
“If I could have the kind of career Harry Dean Stanton has had, who is still acting in his eighties I would be honored.”
He went on to discuss the variety of actors that he has met on set and their varied views and drives, “Many of the young ones are all about the money, but for me it is completely a passion.”
At 35 he is still young but has developed a veteran film maker’s perspective since he has worked all aspects of the process. His respect travels beyond the acting and directing and extends to the gophers and boom operators.
“It takes everyone doing their job to produce a quality product,” he said. :We can’t make a film without everyone. No one is more or less important and that’s very humbling.”
Another feature film being released in 2012 has Norton playing the lead. It is a True Story Thriller about serial killer and torturer, David Parker Ray, also dubbed The Toy Box Killer. Ray was found guilty of several rape/torture/murders in and around Truth or Consequences, New Mexico in 2001. He was sentenced to 224 years behind bars of which he served a mere six months before dying of a heart attack.
“He was a very sick individual,” Norton said. “Though I enjoyed getting the experience of playing someone like him I don’t really want to do it again. I had to read over transcripts and view some of the evidence photos, listening to recordings of him. It gave me insomnia. I am glad it is over.”
This film titled, “Toy Box Killer”, is scheduled for release in 2012 and is in final stages of post production. Produced by an independent production company, “It will be released early next year and it is my understanding there are several distributors knocking at the door to get it.”
Norton has another film débuting this coming Friday in Nacadoches, Texas titled “In My Head” directed by Brad Marr, plus a film he was in called “Jacob” which debuted at the Splatter Fest in Houston. Though not a splatter film, which is a subcategory of horror dealing with gore, Norton has participated with a team to produce a splatter film for the annual competition for the past three years, placing in the second and third place positions two of those years. You can also look for him in the film, “Cherry Bomb”.
When it comes to acting there are a lot of methods, but Norton takes more out of real life.
“You have to be a good listener. And if I could tell young people anything it would be, ‘don’t ever, ever, ever lose the kid in you. Be a responsible adult but keep the kid in you.”
That kid in all of us keeps us amazed at the world. For Jeremy Norton, he has found his passion, his cast for life and the life he never knew wanted. And he will see you soon, at the movies.