He grew up in Africa and Malaysia, attended North Bromsgrove High School and Kidderminster College of Further Education, and later trained as an actor at RADA before turning to directing.
In 2006 he made his National Theatre debut directing Market Boy by David Eldridge. He was an Associate Director at the Young Vic from 2002 - 2007, where his productions have included Feast by Yunior Garcia Aguilera, Rotimi Babatunde, Marcos Barbosa, Tanya Barfield and Gbolahan Obisesan (2013), Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (2007), adapted by Tanya Ronder (2009 & 2011), Herve's Adventures of Tintin which he adapted with David Greig (Barbican 2005, UK tour & West End 2007) and his own adaptation of Sleeping Beauty (Young Vic 2002, Barbican 2004, UK & international tour).
In 2009, Norris' first film King Bastard, written by his wife Tanya Ronder, was produced by BBC Films. In the same year, he directed the Royal National Theatre's production of Death and the King's Horseman, which played in the Olivier Theatre.
He created the 2011 production Dr Dee for the Manchester International Festival, in collaboration with musician Damon Albarn, which was subsequently performed at ENO in 2012. In 2010 he directed Mozart's Don Giovanni, also for ENO. 
Rufus Norris has been an Associate Director at the National Theatre since 2011. His production of London Road by Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork opened at the Cottesloe in 2011 before transferring to the Olivier in 2012, winning the Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical.
His 2012 film, Broken, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and received the Golden Eye Award for best international film at the Zurich Film Festival. At the The British Independent Film Awards 2012 it won the award for Best British Independent Film.
- 2009 King Bastard
- 2012 Broken
- Curtis, Nick (26 October 2010). "Opera for the unconverted". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
- Curtis, Nick (13 October 2006). "The man who made this Cabaret go round". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
- "Eldridge Collects Festen's Best Play Award". What's On Stage. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
- Coveney, Michael (13 April 2009). "Death and the King's Horseman review". The Independent. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
- "Doctor Dee". Manchester International Festival website. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
- "National Theatre Twitter Feed". Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- "Curtis Brown: Rufus Norris". curtisbrown.co.uk.