The underdog of Hollywood: why nobody wants to work with Edward Norton

Edward Norton (AFP)

as it happened to Leonardo DiCaprio (he was just a teenager when he excelled at Who does Gilbert Grape love? playing a young man with an intellectual disability), but unlike Brad Pitt (and its pretty boy without many lights on Thelma y Louise), the incursion of Edward Norton in general consideration he went through a brilliant performance in a very demanding role. It took place in 1998 when, at just 21 years old, he played a neo-Nazi in American History X. There was – the critics but also the public and the producers noted – a young man with great talent.

In this way Norton quickly became one of the most representative actors of his generation. And the attractive proposals began, such as The fight Club (1999), precisely with Brad Pitt as the alter ego of his role. However, when he reached the top, good old Edward couldn’t keep up. And maybe… not so good.

As he climbed the steps, his fame as a capricious and incorrigible artist grew. This brought him great problems, forcing the producers to choose, before a new project, to hire him or the rest of the cast. Doubts about whether he was obsessive about his work, a meticulous person or simply arrogant, for instance, were immediate. For one reason or another, many of those who were sharing film sets did not want to shoot next to him again, relying on a previous bad experience.

Edward Norton in American History X, in the role that established him
Edward Norton in American History X, in the role that established him

Born on August 18, 1969 in Boston, he comes from a wealthy family in the United States. Edward Norton father was a prominent prosecutor: his surname was etched in the history of American justice for having been one of the promoters of laws linked to the care of the environment and the planet. Further behind his grandfather, James Wilson Rousehad been a renowned architect: the design of the first shopping malls, for example, belongs to him.

When the Nortons believed that young Edward’s life would move through academic fields, he preferred to focus on acting. It was his grandmother who accompanied him on this journey, taking him to see plays. Broadway became the daily outlet for that child, who fell in love with what was recreated on stage. He began to study dramatic art and at the age of eight it was the break, not only to understand what his vocation was but for everything that came later, with that behavior that would later confront several colleagues.

Edward Norton at the presentation of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, at the Toronto International Film Festival, Canada (REUTERS)
Edward Norton at the presentation of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, at the Toronto International Film Festival, Canada (REUTERS)

As Norton himself once told, at that time he was preparing a role in a play, something simple, while all his classmates, far from paying attention, played. Something typical of the age -after all, it was about children-, but that he did not share. Edward -what was said: barely eight years old- stood up to the director and asked him what his role was in the play, because he needed to rehearse: he was not going to play, but to learn. A supreme sense of responsibility.

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When he finished school he enrolled in the Yale University to study history. Somewhat impatient, with various concerns, he took courses in the History of Oriental Philosophy and Astronomy, among other fields. It was a moment that later, already being a leading figure, he would describe as one of confusion. For example, one day he left everything and traveled to Japan to build properties with his architect grandfather, who soon understood that this was not his place, he did not see him at ease, and asked him to follow his dream: to become in actor. Driven by the wisdom of man, Norton definitively broke with the mandates.

Edward Norton in The Naked Truth (Shutterstock)
Edward Norton in The Naked Truth (Shutterstock)

He returned to the United States, settled in New York and began taking acting classes with the renowned teacher Terry Schreiber. His first job was in 1994 in Only in América and in 1996 he stood out representing an altar boy in the naked truth. That role was going to be played by the aforementioned DiCaprio, but he got off at the last minute and a call was opened. Edward was one of the applicants who showed up for the casting and got the job.

At that time he already showed his personality, because despite being a rookie, he highlighted some edges of his role that he did not like, and changed them. He told the director that his character should have a stutter, and they agreed. And it didn’t go badly for him: that’s how he got a nomination for the Oscar as best supporting actor. Two years later, the Academy would return its attention to his performance: it nominated him as best leading actor for American History X. The statuette remained in the hands of Roberto Benigni for what was done in Life is Beautiful.

His brilliant performance in American History X was not enough for Edward Norton to win the Oscar
His brilliant performance in American History X was not enough for Edward Norton to win the Oscar

At the end of the 90s, the specialized press spoke wonders about Edward Norton. It was said that he had a perfect mix between Robert DeNiro y Dustin Hoffman. Tremendous praise for a 20-something who never stopped climbing and astonishing. But at the same time, on his shoulders a murmur began to be generated. De commented that he harassed with questions and questioning Tony Kayedirector of American History Xwith the intention of modifying their dialogues.

Once again they gave him everything he demanded, but it was time to edit and leave the tape in 95 minutes. The cuts annoyed Norton, and this forced a new edition to include parts of his character that the actor argued could not be left out. In the end, the film presented was 2 hours long, and Kaye decided to remove her name from the credits: she swore that she would never work with Edward again. She even sued the producer for having listened to the actor and not him, the director.

In favor of the interpreter: he may have been right here too… Over the years American History X it became cult. Against him? The fame of conflict would no longer take it away. Kaye made her run past the other directors.

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After that step, he signed a contract with Paramount: They presented him with three projects, but he did not accept any of them. He said that they were no match for him and that if he couldn’t make modifications to his character, he wasn’t going to take them. This did not end there, since he did not repeat himself on other occasions. The only thing she agreed to do was final account, in 2001, for the sole fact of working with De Niro. The refusals continued until in 2003 she was part of The master scama film he didn’t want to do, but they forced him to.

Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in Fight Club
Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in Fight Club

By then the producers were tired of his meddling, and told him that if he didn’t accept, they would sue him. When filming it without desire, those who suffered were his companions. They were part of that work Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham y Charlize Theron, among others. The derogatory gestures towards the rest of the cast were the order of the day and as soon as he finished filming, he left. At the end of filming, the director, Donald De Linesent gifts to all the actors as a token of appreciation, but Norton gave back his with a letter warning him: “Give this to someone who likes you”.

In 2007 history repeated itself when Louis Leterrier summoned him for Hulk. She refused to play the green hero, but finally gave in after Leterrier agreed to accept his suggestions and changes to the script. They began to film, but Norton, after reading the book, saw great changes, as he expected. It was a real ordeal, since several scenes that had already been filmed had to be repeated, which caused a loss of time and, once again, clashes with his companions.

Edward Norton, in Hulk
Edward Norton, in Hulk

This brought him into conflict with Marvel, since the final would have a lot of dialogue and little action. No explanation moved him from the idea of ​​him. They told him – sarcastically – that the green man did not exist, that it was pure fiction and that it was not necessary to talk much, but to show adrenaline all the time. Norton did not decline his position. Conclusion: he went back to the original script and had to accept it, because otherwise he would face a millionaire lawsuit. He took revenge by not providing notes to promote the film.

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The leading man was waiting for Edward in The Avengers, no less, but before filming began he was fired. Already tired of his constant claims, they decided to dispense with his services. Instead they hired Mark Ruffaloand the rest – and glory to the actor whom everyone really identifies with Hulk– is history. Before the consultations for the replacement, from the company they went to the bone: “We want someone who shares the creative and collaborative spirit of the rest of the cast.”

Nick Noltewho was going to work at his side in Matter of honor, recounted his experiences at his side: “He interrupted and kept telling the other actors how we should interpret our characters. When I recited my dialogues he would interrupt me loudly saying: ‘It’s just that no father speaks like that to his son!’ That is why Nolte decided to resign: “It was that or break his neck”, he was honest.

Notorious: Edward Norton's demands often annoy directors and make his peers uncomfortable;  but on many occasions, time has proven him right
Notorious: Edward Norton’s demands often annoy directors and make his peers uncomfortable; but on many occasions, time has proven him right

Fights with writers, directors and colleagues were not the only thing. in comedy Smoochygot into a fight with the costume designer Jane fame because none of the designs I presented to him liked. Norton commissioned his clothing from Giorgio Armani and appeared with those clothes from one day to the next, without warning. Of course, this opened the door to another internal scandal.

In 2014 he appeared in Birdman, but it passed unnoticed, and then he tried on the director’s suit. It seemed that this was his place, but no. The directed More than friends y Brooklyn Orphans, in 2019, but the criticism did not accompany him. Since then, Edward Norton shines in this part due to his absence. He is not producing nor is he summoned. He was relegated, away from Hollywood productions, despite the fact that he had everything to be the best. It may be that, due to so much professionalism, he has taken too much that of The fight Club

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