Top 5: Edward Norton


May 29, 2013 by Craig Sutherland

Edward Norton is the Oscar nominated actor/director who is known for playing characters with dual personalities. Norton’s big break was opposite Richard Gere in 1996’s Primal Fear and once his audition tape got out he quickly became hot property in Hollywood. He played it safe with supporting roles in The People Vs Larry Flynt and Woody Allens Everyone Says I Love You and then came the leading roles, Firstly in Rounders alongside Matt Damon and in the same year he starred in brutal cult classic American History X as Derek Vinyard, a former neo-nazi skinhead who tries to keep his brother from taking the same path that he took…

Norton has played a Catholic Priest (Keeping The Faith), a Magician (The Illusionist), a kids entertainer (Death To Smoochy) and a Hulk (The Incredible Hulk) and he continues to source odd and quirky roles. Here are his top 5 performances…

5) Moonrise Kingdom

As Scout Master Ward, Norton plays it for laughs. It’s a breath of fresh air to see Norton having fun as he is more often-than-not pigeon-holed as a broody/miserable actor.

4) Primal Fear

Norton plays a stuttering altar boy accused of murder in this courtroom drama with Richard Gere. The film that put him on the map and made Hollywood sit up and take notice of the young actor. He does not disappoint and shows his capability to ‘Play it dark’ very well.

3) The 25th Hour

Spike Lee directs Norton as a New York drug dealer who gets caught out and faces real jail time, the film follows Monty (Norton) in his last 24 hours before he goes away. The film shows Nortons range as an actor and his performance is delicate and bold.

2) Fight Club

Norton plays the nameless protagonist in David Finchers modern classic. A film dripping with style as well as blood. Norton tells his story through narration, pop culture and fights. The script is sharp and Nortons delivery is impeccable, bouncing off of Brad Pitts Tyler Durden.

1) American History X

Nortons greatest performance came as a skinhead neo-nazi Derek Vinyard. His performance is intense, the violence is brutal and the political message is strong.

Norton got a reputation for being difficult on this film, he managed to upset the director Tony Kaye by re-editing the film to apparently ‘give himself more screen time’. The film, as well as Norton’s performance, received critical acclaim. Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, regarding it as “always interesting and sometimes compelling, and it contains more actual provocative thought than any American film on race since Do the Right Thing.

There we have it, Edward Nortons top 5, do you agree? Did we miss the mark? Let us know in the comments section.

Edward Norton Trivia

He played guitar with Courtney Love’s band, Hole, in two gigs in Los Angeles, in December 1998.

When Norton met with the director for Primal Fear (1996), he told them that he, like Aaron, came from eastern Kentucky. Norton even spoke with the twang (which he prepared by watching Coal Miner’s Daughter).

During filming, he and Fight Club (1999) co-star Brad Pitt took soap-making classes.

According to Yale’s newspaper, he has wanted to play the poet Dylan Thomas for a long time, but feels he’s not physically right for the part.

Turned down the role of Private Ryan in Saving Private Ryan (1998).

Was considered for the role of Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon (1999). Director Milos Forman could not decide between him and Jim Carrey and left the decision up to the studio. The studio decided to go with Carrey.

Producers of American Psycho (2000) wanted him to play Patrick Bateman.

Norton already had two Oscar nominations before he was 30.


4 thoughts on “Top 5: Edward Norton

  1. Love this entry. Norton has been my favourite actor for as long as I can remember. My Top 5 Ed roles would be as follows;

    5 – Aaron – Primal Fear. Played this role to perfection and stole every scene he was in.

    4 – The Narrator – Need not say anything about this.

    3 – Derek Vinyard – American History X. I struggle with the fact that he didn’t win the Oscar for this.

    2 – Worm – Rounders. Norton & Damon play off each other perfectly.

    1 – Jack Teller – The Score. Surprised this didn’t get a mention as, for me, this showcases his talent perfectly as he plays the conniving big time thief who pretends to be a disabled cleaner in order to plan the perfect heist. Holds his own among De Niro & Brando, when he could have easily been overwhelmed or lost in their shadow.

    • Craig says:

      I really didn’t like the Score, I just thought that with all that talent (De Nero, Brando and Norton) I was just expecting more and it left me disappointed. Good list though!

  2. […] Top 5: Edward Norton ( […]

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