Edward Norton

Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk

Edward Norton in “The Incredible Hulk”

It’s hard to believe that at one time Edward Norton was just another guy submitting headshots and going from audition to audition while looking for any kind of work – waiter, runner – to help pay the bills. Highly educated, earning a History degree from Yale while also taking Japanese and theater courses, Edward knew he had a passion for acting and theater at an early age.

From the time he graduated Yale in 1991, it took about five years for Edward to put himself out there, but it was through perseverance and sheer talent that finally got him noticed. A major year for him was 1996, at the age of 27, in which Edward appeared in the Richard Gere vehicle “Primal Fear,” the lawyer Isaacman in “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” and as Drew Barrymore’s fiancée in Woody Allen’s musical “Everyone Says I Love You.” These provided great exposure for Norton, as well as the Best Supporting Oscar nomination for “Primal Fear,” making clear his ability and range were genuine and unique. His next three pictures, “Rounders,” “American History X” and “Fight Club,” cemented his status as a major star. “American History X” brought him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Reluctant to buy into any idea of celebrity, Edward sought to extend his roles, working with De Niro on “The Score” and Robin Williams on “Death to Smoochy.” He directed his first film in 2000, which he also starred and produced, “Keeping the Faith.” Beginning with Spike Lee’s “25th Hour” in 2002, Edward produces most of his own work now focusing primarily on indie pictures that, without his involvement, probably would not be made (“The Painted Veil” with Naomi Watts, for one).

Despite relationships with Salma Hayek and Courtney Love, Edward Norton has made it a point to let his screen work speak for itself without his personal life distracting it. His desire to continue exploring new avenues and taking risks continues; perhaps his greatest challenge will be as Bruce Banner in “The Incredible Hulk,” for which he is also writing the screenplay. It is to Norton’s credit that he does not see himself beneath such a role, but as a possibility of making it yet another one of his many memorable performances.

ALSO: See how Edward Norton’s Tyler Durden fared in our Badass Bracket!

Edward on the Screen

In his first major screen role he snags an Oscar nomination: 1996’s “Primal Fear.” He’s third billing in “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and he sings in “Everyone Says I Love You.” He’s Worm in “Rounders” and Derek Vinyard in Tony Kaye’s “American History X” in 1998. One of his most celebrated roles is as Tyler Durden in David Fincher’s “Fight Club” opposite Brad Pitt. He began the 2000s with his directing debut, “Keeping the Faith,” in which he also produced and starred as Fr. Brian Finn. In 2001, he works with his idols De Niro and Brando in “The Score,” is Smoochy the Rhino in Danny DeVito’s “Death to Smoochy,” portrays Nelson Rockfeller (and is an uncredited contributor to the script) in “Frida.” He’s Will Graham in the Hannibal Lecter film “Red Dragon” and Monty Brogan in Spike Lee’s post-9/11 drama “25th Hour.” He’s part of “The Italian Job” in 2003, is the uncredited leper King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem (wearing a mask the entire time) for Ridley Scott in “Kingdom of Heaven,” produces and acts in “Down in the Valley” and “The Painted Veil,” and Walter Fane (also known as “The Illusionist”) in 2006.

Rounders” (1998)
Norton is amazing in this film opposite Matt Damon. This film is the gold standard for poker movies, but it’s also much more than that. The characters in the film are excellent, and it’s about tthe brotherhood between the two main characters. Co-written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, this film will go down as an all-time poker classic.

Matt Damon and Edward Norton in Rounders

The Bourne Legacy” (2007)
Norton joins the cast with Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner in this fourth installment of the Bourne franchise, this time without Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, with Norton playing Colonel Eric Byer. The movie isn’t bad, but it doesn’t get audiences too excited.

Edward Says

On patriotism:
“I almost forgot what it’s like to be proud of my government.”

On celebrity:
“Fame is very corrosive and you have to guard very strictly against it.”

On modern L.A.:
“I get heartbroken flying into L.A. It’s just this feeling of unspecific loss. Can you imagine what the San Fernando Valley was when it was all wheat fields? Can you imagine what John Steinbeck saw?”

On New York:
“Nobody makes me uncomfortable here. It’s a place where you can be eternally anonymous.”