What do Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and law firm Steptoe & Johnson have in common?
It started in May when Norris, 31, responded to an open casting call for former football players (he played tight end at Morgan State University before graduating in 2003) to appear in an Adidas ad. Norris stood out from hundreds of other aspiring actors who were asked to complete cone drills, hurdles and other agility tests, and impressed casting director Sam Brown — who has directed music videos for Jay-Z, Adele and Corinne Bailey Rae — in test shots.
In the ad, Norris plays a football player who is haunted by visions of RGIII in the moments before he faces off against him in a game — while getting his ankle wrapped in a training facility, riding the bus on the way to the stadium, and in the locker room. The final moments of the commercial feature RGIII leaping over Norris and scoring a touchdown. Filming was completed in D.C. over a weekend in June at the St. Regis Hotel, the intersection of 6th and Rhode Island NW and FedEx field.
Norris said he had no problem being “the other guy” opposite the Redskins star and Heisman Trophy winner, who he described as “fun, energetic, with a great head on his shoulders.”
“I didn’t mind being the guy that gets hurdled over right before he gets to the endzone,” Norris said. “This is RGIII’s commercial, I’m just there. Being the guy that’s supposed to be opposite him on the defensive side, of course I’m going to get showed up.”
Acting is a newfound interest for Norris, who defends large companies in patent litigation. He’s currently representing Mitsubishi and Motorola in two separate patent cases in federal court and the International Trade Commission.
Norris started taking acting classes last year at Theater Lab in the District, and has his sights set on a diverse range of acting: drama, comedy, romance and action. This is the first commercial he’s booked.
“The whole thing was just a blast, it was so surreal,” he said. “To be part of something like that when you’re just starting off as an actor is pretty amazing.”