Born: August 18, 1969, Boston, United States | Successful For: Actor | Zodiac Sign: Leo
The Edward Norton Story: Lessons From the Legend
Edward Norton Did Things That Intrigued His Soul And Indulged In It Heavily:
“Acting? It's a long-standing compulsion I've had since I was about five or six years old. I can literally identify the moment it struck me.” Ed Norton’s babysitter was the first one to introduce him to his love at first sight by taking him to a play at age 5. From then on, he became interested in acting. By 8, he was known for questioning his drama teacher the motivation he had behind a certain scene. He attended many theatre schools throughout and he would study music, theatre and fine arts. At that same age of just 8, he would command the stage at Orenstein's Columbia School for Theatrical Arts and apparently asked clever questions like "What is my objective in this scene?" His mother, who would teach an English literature course on Shakespeare, was an avid theatregoer and she would often take him with her. , fact, when he was 16, he saw legend Ian McKellan do a one man show. This heightened his senses for the arts as he claims that it allowed him to understand that “acting was something you could do as an adult that affected people, that it wasn't just for entertainment, that you could change someone's mind with it. I started performing in the theatre a lot more after that.” He dug in and enjoyed acting while he pursued school and eventually earned his degree. He would end up working in Osaka, Japan where he consulted for his Grandpa’s company. Eventually he quit his cubical office job and decided to get back into acting and take it serious out in New York. It took him 2 years of being a waiter until he caught the eye of a famous playwright. “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 Found Causes That Anchored Him And Contributed Significantly:
Even for his acting roles, Edward Norton does characters that he feels an alignment with society, he once said “I do find myself drawn more to pieces that I feel are wrestling with the way that we're living now, what we're all going through.” Movies like Fight Club, American History X and Birdman are certainly the type that provoke the audience to really scratch their head and think. He says “I never think that a film should answer questions for you. I think it should make you ask a lot of questions.” Naomi Watts has also said that "I think that there's no question that Edward is going to challenge every director that he works with. But if the director is smart, he will always listen to Edward's ideas, because 99 percent of the time they're brilliant." Edward Norton is not just enthusiastic about the arts, but he strongly stands tall for things he believes in. He is a member of the board of trustees for Enterprise Community Partners, which is a non-profit for affordable houses for low income communities in his hometown. He is the president of the American portion of the Maasai Wilderness Conservative Trust in which he raised money by getting 30 runners in the NYC Marathon, including David Blaine and Alanis Morissette. They raised over a million. Edward Norton is also heavily involved in many other important causes he believes in such as renewable energy and the African Wildlife Foundation. Although he dislikes too much social media chitter chatter, he remarkably created and launched a social networking concept built on raising funds for charities called Crowdrise. “A lot of why I do something is just the novelty of the experience.”
Norton Has Always Been True To His Identity All Along And Fought Hard To Earn His Place:
It’s clear that Edward Norton follows his gut and strives for doing things that align with who he is. He was noted for saying on Entertainment Weekly “I didn't want to go into something feeling less than totally enthused about it just for the sake of getting paid." Edward Norton played basketball in high school, he pursued astronomy, history and even learned Japanese at Yale, only things that he enjoyed. But soon enough, he just knew acting was for him and couldn't have it any other way. "I just love movies." His true passion was always acting, and never left it out of his reach, ever. Even in University, he acted in many undergraduate productions which would become popular on campus. In 1994, he decided to put all his other interest aside to fully devote to who he was, an actor. Initially he waited tables and even applied to become a taxi driver to make ends meet. He then began work as a proofreader, and then a director's assistant to finally get his foot in the door. A very authentic actor too, he claims “You never make all things for all people and can't always pander to the broadest denominator. I keep an eye toward doing the themes that interest me. Do they move me? Interest me? Make me think? When I run across something that is provocative in an unsettling way, it appeals to me.” Famous critic Roger Ebert has even touched upon his trueness saying "The actor Edward Norton has never agreed to appear in a film he didn't believe he had reason to respect.” In the film Rounders, he played character Worm whom was actually written as a smoker, however Edward declined the part until he was rewritten as a non-smoker. “I like making movies for myself and my friends and people with my sensibility.”
"I don't have anything to prove to anybody, which is a lovely place to be."
– Quote by Edward Norton
Edward Norton thanks his acting coach for being a major key to his success. While he spoke Japanese, he worked a deal with the coach Terry Schreiber to trade acting lessons for Japanese lessons, as Terry was directing a play in Japan. Norton would study under him for several years which eventually led to his moment.
When Primal Fear was being created, they were searching for a young star to act opposite Richard Gere, who subsequently was on the ropes about leaving the project altogether as he was growing impatient. Leonardo DiCaprio was rumoured to have declined the part. Edward Norton would come in and use a Kentucky accent he had tweaked together. He would end up beating 2000 others to get the part. He made it.
“When you're working on a creative thing, everyone has an idea, and they're pushing it. The first time you work with anybody, you have to get comfortable with the way another person pushes hard for what they want."
- Quote by Edward Norton
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