Edward Norton


Photo: Edward Norton

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Biography of Edward Norton

Edward Norton is an American actor and director, whose roles in the films Primal Fear (1996), American History X (1998), Fight Club (1999), The Illusionist (2006) and Birdman ( 2014).

Pictured: Edward Norton

Childhood and youth

Edward Harrison Norton was born on August 18, 1969 in Boston, the capital of Massachusetts. The actor’s father, Edward Mower Norton Jr., served in Vietnam, and later was an environmentalist in Asia and a federal prosecutor in the Cabinet of Jimmy Carter (39th President of the United States). Mother Lydia Robinson, an English teacher, died of a brain tumor in 1997. Norton has a younger sister, Molly, and a brother, Jim.

Edward’s maternal grandfather was a successful businessman: he founded the Enterprise Fund (the construction of affordable housing) and the well-known construction company The Rouse Company. Through the efforts of Norton’s grandfather, the historic seaport of Baltimore, the festival market in Florida and other objects were built.

Edward Norton in high school

Unlike his grandfather, Norton from an early age saw himself on stage, and not in business. The boy took his first steps towards an acting career on the stage of the Columbia Theater Arts Center. Remarkable talent brought 15-year-old Norton an acting cup at a summer camp in Bristol (New Hampshire) – later the most famous pioneer was appointed head of the summer theater, where he honed his skills with pleasure.

After graduating from high school, Edward entered Yale University in the history department. In his student years, the guy was engaged in rowing and willingly participated in amateur performances. By the way, together with future Hollywood stars Ron Livingston and Paul Giamatti.

Edward Norton in his youth

After university, Norton went to Japan to help his grandfather in his construction business. Since then, the actor speaks good Japanese. But even in such a job, Edward managed to apply his acting skills: he starred in a series of training videos for a video textbook of the English language of the largest language school in the country.

Actor career

In the early 1990s, Edward moved from Japan to New York with the final decision to become a star. The breakthrough came in 1993 at the Off-Broadway Theatre, where the actor took part in a production based on the play by Edward Albee (the author of the world-famous work Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).

Edward Norton on stage

Norton made his film debut in 1996, starring in the film Primal Fear. In the action-packed film by Gregory Hoblit, the actor played a young man accused of the murder of the archbishop and defended in court by a well-known lawyer (Richard Gere). Critics and viewers were delighted with the performance of the young Norton, who soon won the Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Oscar.

“Primal Fear” – trailer

That same year, Edward appeared as lawyer Alan Isaacman in the biopic The People vs. Larry Flynt. Woody Harrelson played the infamous publisher and businessman Flint.

Edward Norton and Woody Harrelson in The People vs. Larry Flynt

However, the real glory was ahead. In 1998, in the drama American History X, the actor played Derek Vinyard, a former ruthless neo-Nazi leader who changes his outlook on life after being released from prison. The film really shocked the audience and received a lot of positive reviews. Film critics commented that Norton’s character had “an ambiguous erotic allure” and that Edward brought the character to life perfectly.

American History X – trailer

On the set of the film, Norton showed himself as a real perfectionist. The director of the picture, Tony Kay, edited the picture for a whole year, taking into account Norton’s numerous notes. Subsequently, the actor more than once intervened in the production process with his ideas, which often caused dissatisfaction with directors and screenwriters.

On the set of “American History X”

The next high-profile film in which Norton appeared was David Fincher’s Fight Club. In the 1999 psychological thriller based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, Edward played the unnamed narrator, dissatisfied with his life as a yuppie, who forms an underground organization, Fight Club, with soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt).

Filming “Fight Club”

To prepare for the role, Norton took boxing, taekwondo, and grappling lessons, and deliberately lost weight from the start of filming (unlike Pitt, who bulked up).

Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in Fight Club

The film was nominated for an Oscar, and Edward Norton could have won an MTV Movie Award for best fight (in one scene he beats himself), but the award went to Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne for the fight in The Matrix (1999).

Fight with himself the hero of Edward Norton (“Fight Club”)

In 2002, Norton starred in the Brett Ratner thriller Red Dragon, the second film in the series about psychopathic intellectual Hannibal Lecter (traditionally played by Anthony Hopkins). Spike Lee’s The 25th Hour was just as successful. In it, the actor played a prosperous American sentenced to 7 years for drug trafficking – he has only 24 hours to say goodbye to his loved ones.

Edward Norton in the movie The 25th Hour

The film has a lot of intersections with American History X: both films have scenes with reference to slavery, Norton has the same hairstyle and beard, his father is a fireman, and he himself is a criminal.

In 2003, Paramount Studios forced the actor to star in the action movie The Italian Job – these were the terms of the contract. Norton was not eager to participate in this project, and subsequently refused to participate in the promotional tour in the run-up to the premiere. Nevertheless, the film turned out to be commercially successful, and the shooting gave Norton an acquaintance with Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Donald Sutherland and Jason Statham.

Edward Norton, Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron in The Italian Job

This was followed by roles in the films The Illusionist and the love drama The Painted Veil with Naomi Watts, and in 2008 the Marvel Studios film The Incredible Hulk was released, in which the actor got the main role. Norton embodied the image of the scientist Bruce Banner, who, after an unsuccessful experiment, mutates, turning into a green monster Hulk.

The Incredible Hulk – Trailer

In the first film in 2003, the mutant was played by Eric Bana – then the designers created the appearance of similarity by capturing facial expressions, but now the Hulk’s face was made without sketching Edward’s face and therefore he does not look like an actor. Norton was expected to reprise his role in The Avengers in 2012, but was replaced by Mark Ruffalo because Norton had a salary dispute.

On the set of The Incredible Hulk

In the 2010 tragicomedy Grass, the actor played two roles at once – twins diametrically different in character, and according to the plot of the thriller Stone, Norton again played a prisoner, ready for anything to get out of prison. Two years later, Edward could be seen in the cult action movie The Bourne Evolution, a spin-off of films about former agent Jason Bourne.

Michael Keaton and Edward Norton on Birdman

Norton received a lot of praise for his work after the release of Alejandro Inarritu’s Oscar-winning black comedy Birdman (2014). The unusualness of the film is due to the effect of continuous shooting (in fact, there are more than 100 cuts in the film). In the story of an aged theater director (Michael Keaton), Edward Norton is portrayed as a brash actor who strips naked on stage, tries to rape his partner (Naomi Watts) in front of a thousand spectators, and fights desperately with his boss. Critics noted that for the first time in fifteen years after Fight Club, the actor received a character equal in strength and temperament.

Personal life of Edward Norton

In the mid-1990s, Edward Norton dated actress Drew Barrymore, then was engaged to rock singer Courtney Love, widow of Nirvana bandleader Kurt Cobain, but the wedding never took place. From 1999 to 2003, he was in a relationship with Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek.

Edward Norton and Drew Barrymore

In 2011, Norton proposed to Canadian producer Shauna Robertson after six years of relationship. In 2013, the son Atlas was born in the family.

Edward Norton and Salma Hayek

Norton has a private pilot’s license and a private jet, a modified Cessna 206.

Edward Norton and Shauna Robertson

Edward Norton supports many environmental projects, in particular, developments in the field of renewable energy sources. Also, the actor is in the African Wildlife Fund, speaking out against the supply of ivory.

Edward Norton with son Atlas

He is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and spokesman for the Convention on Biological Diversity and regularly provides funds to improve the quality of life in low-income communities. In May 2010, Norton launched the Crowdrise website, a fundraising platform for charitable causes.

Edward Norton now

Since February 2018, work has continued on the creation of the film Motherless Brooklyn, directed and written by Edward Norton. Set in 1950s New York City, the film follows an investigator with Tourette’s syndrome who is looking for his mentor’s killer. Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin and Leslie Mann will appear in the film.

Since February 2018, Edward Norton has been working on the film “Motherless Brooklyn”

In March, a fire broke out on the set, during which a fire brigade employee died. Norton’s production company, which acted “recklessly, carelessly and negligently,” was sued for $7 million. Filming resumed a week after the incident.

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