“I always felt that acting was an escape, like having the secret key to every door and permission to go into any realm and soak it up. I enjoy that free pass.” – Edward Norton
I fell in love with Edward Norton the minute I saw him in his first film, Primal Fear. His character, Aaron Stampler, was a demure, abused alter boy accused of killing a Bishop. I’ll admit I saw the movie because of Richard Gere, but I came out of it an Edward Norton fan. What really caught my attention was his transformation at the end of the film. I will not ruin it for those who have not seen it, but when I found out this was his first feature film, I was amazed. I read later that Norton, a Boston native, told the director that he was from Kentucky (as Aaron was) and added the stutter in to the lines because he thought Aaron would stutter.
Apparently, I was not the only one amazed as he was nominated for an Academy Award for this performance. Much to my chagrin, he lost to Cuba Gooding Jr. that year for his role in Jerry McGuire. But, I knew that would not be the last we would hear of Edward Norton. He played lawyer Alan Isaacman in The People vs. Larry Flynt and followed that up Everyone Says I Love You, a Woody Allen film.
It was in only his fifth film that Norton would receive his second Oscar nomination, American History X. In this gutsy role, Norton played an ex-Skinhead trying to redeem some of the damage he had done and save his family. He lost the Oscar that year to Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful.
The one thing I love most about Edward Norton is he never backs down from a tough role. His yuppie turned anarchist role in Fight Club should have, in my opinion, earned him his third Oscar nomination. He’s played a clown (Death to Smoochie), a thief (The Score and The Italian Job), a hustler (Rounders), and a priest (Keeping the Score).
After two year absence, Norton returns to the screen this Friday in Down in the Valley in which he plays a modern day cowboy. He will also be playing a turn-of-the-century magician in the upcoming The Illusionist, a police officer in Pride and Glory, and a scientist in The Painted Veil. I cannot wait!
You can purchase Edward Norton DVDs at Amazon.com.