Today, a great actor turns 52, whom we hardly see on the screen for some time. Edward Norton has gone from being the young prodigy of American History X and Fight club to a sucker in Hollywood. What happened? The problems of a huge ego in an industry that has left behind the days when an actor like Warren Beatty could fight with everyone to be considered an author. But today, which is his birthday, we have to celebrate a career of enormous titles and wish him a better future.
The young prodigy
When one sees the beginnings of Edward Norton, one must admit that he had no lack of reasons to believe it. He began his career with an Oscar nomination for The two faces of the truth and got another two years later for playing a repentant neo-Nazi in American History X.
That same year, Norton appeared briefly in a Woody Allen film, They all say I love you. And when the director who has (re) launched the careers of Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow, Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Stewart and Timothée Chalamet calls you as a newcomer, it is that a future full of red carpets and neon lights awaits you. Unless you screw it up.
During the second half of the 1990s all doors were open for Norton. At that time he defined the role with which we still usually identify him today. An ordinary, good and normal boy who will have no trouble convincing us that he is innocent of anything. But the truth is twofold and every ordinary boy has a Tyler Durden in the bedroom. His characters were always striking for playing with the sympathy of the viewer.
After Fight club, in 1999, it was at the top. Besides being a great performer, Norton plays the guitar and has given several concerts with the group Hole; He speaks Japanese and defends himself in French and Spanish; he adores literature and photography (with Gabriel García Márquez and Hemingway always at the table); And although his social activism is far from being a way to build a personal brand, Edward Norton’s involvement in the fight against poverty and environmental causes is known to all. In 2006 he was even recognized by the UN as a “Messenger of Peace” for his fight for biological diversity. How can someone like that screw it up?
A slow disappear in Hollywood
For many, the beginning of the end came with their leap to leadership. Norton had always shown a tremendous interest in what was happening on the other side of the camera, in 2000 he was at the peak of his career and he dared to take the step. But the reception of More than friends it was rather lukewarm. To be honest, this romantic comedy is nothing to write home about, but not such a disaster that Norton let 19 years go by before directing again.
In reality, Norton’s problems in the industry came from further behind. The most famous of them has to do with American History X, a film that ended up hating its same director, Tony Kaye. And it is that while Kaye was doing his work harassed by the notes that the actor sent him, the star of the film got into another editing room and locked until he presented an alternative montage. To make matters worse, the film underwent further changes after passing through New Line Cinema, to the point that Kaye asked (unsuccessfully) to please delete their names from that.
None of this chastised Norton: when on the set of Frida problems arose with the script, he began to rewrite the libretto. There is a lot of talk about Norton’s ego, but it must also be recognized that in many cases, like this one, he has not been recognized in the credits. Shortly after, in The Red Dragon, the prequel to The silence of the lambs, Norton went back to rewriting without being asked entire pages of the script and got into a fight with the director, Brett Ratner, with the producers, and with everyone else who got in the way. He was making a name for himself as a difficult actor, as a meddlesome perfectionist.
Even so, when in 2003 they produced that imitation of Ocean’s Eleven called The Italian Job, they signed Norton in a cast full of all stars. And he refused to promote for the premiere.
He wasn’t even intimidated by the Marvel bosses. Although it is true that The incredible Hulk it was filmed early in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, before it was bought by Disney. But after rewriting scenes without cutting a hair – and again without a single credit – and after refusing to promote the film, Marvel kicked the actor and signed Mark Ruffalo for the Hulk’s next appearance in The Avengers. Would Norton know the millionaire contract he was losing? That really is being a superhero. Some time later they offered him to play Daredevil, but he did not like the color of the suit.
The consequences? Edward Norton went from making four movies in 2002 to a slow fade on the billboard. First two films a year, as in its beginnings, then one and since then a discreet rhythm, which nevertheless continues. He has also diversified his activity, appearing on television, in various television programs Saturday Night Live and producing documentaries and some movies that he would star in himself (The painted veil, In the valley).
The last years
In 2014, Edward Norton would appear in two films that should have given his career a boost. He had a role in one of Wes Anderson’s biggest hits, El gran hotel in Budapest, and Iñarritu hired him to play a megalomaniac theater director who more than one of them wanted to identify with Norton himself in Birdman. 16 years after his Oscar nomination for American History X, Norton was back in the running for the biggest award in the industry.
But it seems that Norton’s career did not quite take off again. In the last five years he has only appeared in a couple of movies. However, one of them deserves to be celebrated in style. Brooklyn orphans is a neonoir with a classic breath written and directed by Norton himself from a novel by Jonathan Lethem and shows that the actor is still a genius on both sides of the camera. Too bad the movie, even though it was full of stars like Bruce Willis and Willem Dafoe, didn’t get more attention.
His next project is the sequel to Daggers in the back Directed by Rian Johnson. From here we wish the actor a very happy birthday and may this be the opportunity to find him more regularly on the billboard.
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