Biography for Edward Norton
Edward James Norton Jr.
6′ 1″ (1.85 m)
Edward Norton was born on August 18, 1969 to parents Edward, an attorney
who works for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Robin
Norton, a former foundation executive and teacher who passed away of
brain cancer on March 6, 1997. Edward also has two younger siblings
named James and Molly. From the age of 5 onward, the Yale graduate
(majoring in history) has always been interested in acting. At the age
of 8, he would ask his drama teacher what his motivation in a scene was.
He attended theater schools throughout his life, and eventually managed
to find work on stage in New York as a member of the Signature players,
who produced the works of playwright and director HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0016361/» Edward Albee . Around the time when
he was appearing in Albee’s Fragments, in Hollywood, they were looking
for a young actor to star opposite HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0000152/» Richard Gere in a new courtroom
thriller, HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0117381/» Primal Fear
(1996). The role was offered to HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0000138/» Leonardo DiCaprio but he turned it
Gere was on the verge of walking away from the project, fed up with the
wait for a young star to be found, when Edward auditioned and won the
role over 2000 other hopefuls. Before the film was even released, his
test screenings for the part were causing a Hollywood sensation, and he
was soon offered roles in HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000095/»
Woody Allen ‘s HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0116242/» Everyone
Says I Love You (1996) and HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0117318/» The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996).
Edward won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and
received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his
performance in HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0117381/» Primal
Fear (1996). In 1998, Norton gained 30 pounds of muscle and transformed
his look into that of a monstrous skinhead for his role as a violent
white supremacist in HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0120586/»
American History X (1998). This performance would earn him his second
Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor. In 1999 came the critically
acclaimed HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0137523/» Fight Club
(1999) and in 2000 came his directorial HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/SearchBios?debut» debut in HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0171433/» Keeping the Faith (2000).
Following graduation, he worked in Osaka, Japan, consulting for his
grandfather’s company, Enterprise Foundation, which works to create
decent, affordable housing for low-income families.
On his return to New York, it took less than two years of waiting tables
before the young thespian to capture the eye of HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0016361/» Edward Albee , one of the most
celebrated playwrights of the 20th century. Albee was working with the
Signature Theater Company on a new production of Fragments. One audition
and Norton landed the role, as well as a slot in Signature’s repertory
company. He currently serves on its board of directors.
He played guitar with HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0001482/»
Courtney Love ‘s band Hole in two gigs in Los Angeles, in December 1998.
In July 1998, after a New Yorker jibe in a review of a documentary about
HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0001482/» Courtney Love , Norton
sent the magazine a frameable letter. Norton’s missive was in response
to «Endless Love,» a piece by Daphne Merkin centering on HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0112374/» Nick Broomfield ‘s controversial
documentary _Kurt & Courtney (1998)_ . The film, filled with speculation
that Love’s husband HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0001052/» Kurt
Cobain was a murder victim rather than a suicide, features a litany of
Love-haters anxious to air their grievances. The magazine’s coverage of
Broomfield’s film «along with Merkin’s thoughtful contributions» didn’t
sit well with Norton.
When Norton met with the director for HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0117381/» 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 HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0080549/» Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)).
His character Aaron Stampler in HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0117381/» Primal Fear (1996), which was based
on a book, did not have a stutter, but when he auditioned he gave him
Was one of the few celebrities invited to HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0000093/» Brad Pitt and HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0000098/» Jennifer Aniston ‘s Malibu wedding.
[June 29, 2000]
During filming, he and HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0137523/»
Fight Club (1999) co-star HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000093/»
Brad Pitt took soap-making classes.
He and HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0128442/» Rounders (1998)
co-star HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000354/» Matt Damon
competed in the World Series of Poker at Las Vegas on May 1998 with the
movie studio Miramax paying the $10,000 per person entrance fee.
His character Worm in HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0128442/»
Rounders (1998) was originally supposed to smoke but being avid
non-smoker he refused.
He worked as a waiter, a proofreader, and a director’s assistant (to try
to get his foot in the door) in New York City.
He applied to be a New York City cab driver, but he was rejected for the
license because he didn’t meet the age requirement.
Speaks some Japanese, which helped when he worked, briefly, for his
grandfather’s company, The Enterprise Foundation. He was assigned to the
Osaka, Japan branch until he decided to quit the desk job grind (at his
grandfather’s suggestion) and try to break into acting in New York.
Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Maryland, where Edward graduated in
1987, built a new auditorium for the performing arts several years ago.
He revisited his alma mater and gave a lecture on the day of the
dedication. It is named after Edward’s grandfather, James Rouse.
Received a B.A. in history from Yale in 1991, but took many theater and
Japanese courses as an undergraduate. He has said in interviews that he
took as many theater courses as he could without majoring in theater.
The theme song for HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0171433/»
Keeping the Faith (2000) — «Heart of Mine» by HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0974549/» Peter Salett — was not written
specifically for the film. Salett is a good friend of Edward’s.
According to Yale’s newspaper, he has wanted to play the poet
HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0858769/» Dylan Thomas for a long
time, but feels he’s not physically right for the part.
While a precocious 8-year-old actor, he asked a surprised director of a
play, «what is my objective here?» The director was so startled by his
interest in acting.
His babysitter, Betsy True, went on to perform as Cossette in a Broadway
version of Les Miserables. She was the one who originally got Edward
interested in acting, taking him to see his first play («If I Were A
Princess») at age six.
Auditioned for the role of ‘Rudy Baylor’ in the movie HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0119978/» The Rainmaker (1997). The role
eventually went to HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000354/» Matt
Got the role for HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0137523/» Fight
Club (1999) because director HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0000399/» David Fincher enjoyed his
performance in HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0117318/» The
People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), which was the only film of the actor’s
that he had seen.
Dedicated his directoral debut, HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0171433/» Keeping the Faith (2000), to his
late mother, Robin.
Brother of Molly Norton and James Norton.
Received History degree from Yale. 
Turned down the role of Private Ryan in HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0120815/» Saving Private Ryan (1998).
Serves as a member of the board of directors at the Enterprise
Foundation in New York.
Oldest of three children.
Was considered for the role of Andy Kaufman in HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0125664/» Man on the Moon (1999). Director
HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0001232/» Milos Forman could not
decide between him and HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000120/»
Jim Carrey and left the decision up to the studio. The studio decided
to go with Carrey.
Grandfather James Rouse is also known as the «inventor» of the shopping
Lost several pounds for HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0137523/»
Fight Club (1999).
Holds benefit screenings of his films mostly at The Senator Theatre in
Baltimore, MD to benefit some charities that includes the Living
Classroooms Foundation and the St. Frances Academy Robin Norton
Scholarship Fund in honor of his late mother.
Producers of HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0144084/» American
Psycho (2000) wanted him to play Patrick Bateman.
Played «Captain» in a VH1 «Captain & Tenille» Behind the Music skit on
HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0072562/» «Saturday Night Live»
(1975) with friend HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000106/» Drew
Barrymore the night before the 1999 Oscars when he was a nominee for
HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0120586/» American History X
(1998). Drew then accompanied Edward to the Oscars the day after.
Has a tabby cat named Maggie-named after the character from ‘Cat in a
Hot Tin Roof’
Dated HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000161/» Salma Hayek .
Dated HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0001482/» Courtney Love .
His grandfather, James Rouse, designed the planned community Norton was
born in — Columbia, Maryland.
Did NOT attend the famed ‘Yale Drama School’, as reported in many news
paper articles. Attended Yale merely as an undergraduate.
Grew up in a planned commmunity designed by his Grandfather, James Rouse
His father, Edward Norton Sr. was an attorney for president HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/name/nm0141699/» Jimmy Carter .
As a response to the events of September 11th and the increasing
conflict in the Middle East, he contributed to establish the Middle East
Peacemakers Fund at Yale University.
Norton already had two Oscar nominations before he was 30.
College buddies with HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0515296/» Ron
Livingston at Yale.
Was attached at one point to star in HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0251114/» Hart’s War (2002) but walked away
from the project and an $8 million salary. The role later went to
HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0268199/» Colin Farrell .
Voted International Man of the Year (2003) By British GQ Magazine
Was once attached to star as the lead in HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0313542/» Runaway Jury (2003)
Born on the same day as HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000225/»
Christian Slater .
Shares a birthday with HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000664/»
Patrick Swayze , HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0001459/» Denis
Leary , HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0912528/» Malcolm-Jamal
Warner and HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000602/» Robert
He served as Artistic Director for the Signature Theatre Company in New
York from 2001-2003. He is currently still on the board.
Shaved his head and gained 30 pounds of muscle in 3 months by drinking
protein shakes, meat shakes (blended roast beef), and lifting weights
non-stop for his role as Dereck Vinyard in HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0120586/» American History X (1998).
Was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was raised in Columbia, Maryland.
Was 33 years old when he played Will Graham in HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0289765/» Red Dragon (2002). His predecessor,
HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0676973/» William L. Petersen , was
also 33 years old when he played the same role in HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/title/tt0091474/» Manhunter (1986).
He speaks Spanish
He treasures his private life and being able to live a normal life — and
can’t imagine not being able to take the New York subway if he gets too
HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0089742/» Stuart Blumberg ,
Edward’s friend from his Yale college days, wrote most of what was to
become the basis for HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/title/tt0171433/»
Keeping the Faith (2000). Edward starred, produced, and directed the
romantic comedy, but he also assisted Stuart in writing the original
Won a Village Voice Obie Award for his role in the Off-Broadway Show
Burn This in 2003
HYPERLINK «http://imdb.com/name/nm0000106/» Drew Barrymore
accompanied him to the Oscar in 1999 where he was nominated for «Best
Actor in a Leading Role»
«Acting? It’s a longstanding compulsion I’ve had since I was about five
or six years old. I can literally identify the moment it struck me. I
went to see a play [If I Were a Princess] in which a babysitter of mine
[Betsy True, who later acted on HYPERLINK
«http://imdb.com/SearchBios?Broadway» Broadway ] was performing. I was
completely shell-shocked by the magic of this little community-theater
play; it just riveted me.»
«I don’t smoke and I don’t want to smoke. I am not a fan of gratuitous
smoking in films.»
«Life, like poker has an element of risk. It shouldn’t be avoided. It
should be faced.»
«If I ever have to stop taking the subway, I’m gonna have a heart
«Fame is very corrosive and you have to guard very strictly against it.»
«I’ve never felt any particular encroachment of the ‘celebrity’ stuff
into my life.»
«I’m an actor and, each time out, I’m trying to convince the audience
that I’m this character. Every little thing that people know about you
as a person impedes your ability to achieve that kind of terrific
suspension of disbelief that happens when an audience goes with an actor
and character [he’s] playing.»
«The more you can create that magic bubble, that suspension of
disbelief, for a while, the better.»
«It’s a nice position to be in; I’m lucky. At the same time, all the
excitement of that has been put into stark perspective … In some ways,
the highs of it have been blunted, which in a way, is a gift.»
«First of all, 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.»
«People wrestle sometimes making movies, and I think that conflict is a
very essential thing. I think a lot of very happy productions have
produced a lot of very banal movies.»
«I’m not interested in making movies for everybody. I like making movies
for myself and my friends and people with my sensibility.»
«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.»
«Nobody makes me uncomfortable here. It’s a place where you can be
eternally anonymous.» — the reason he loves living in New York City
«In fact, the United States today keeps on making the same sort of
mistakes. We force those methods we think are useful on a few countries,
hoping to make a few changes.»