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Biography for Edward Norton

Birth name

Edward James Norton Jr.


6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini biography

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 . Around the time when he was appearing in Albee's Fragments, in Hollywood, they were looking for a young actor to star opposite in a new courtroom thriller, (1996). The role was offered to but he turned it down.

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 's (1996) and (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 (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 (1998). This performance would earn him his second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor. In 1999 came the critically acclaimed (1999) and in 2000 came his directorial in (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 , 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 '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 , Norton sent the magazine a frameable letter. Norton's missive was in response to "Endless Love," a piece by Daphne Merkin centering on 's controversial documentary _Kurt & Courtney (1998)_ . The film, filled with speculation that Love's husband 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 (1996), he told them that he, like Aaron, came from eastern Kentucky. Norton even spoke with the twang (which he prepared by watching (1980)).

His character Aaron Stampler in (1996), which was based on a book, did not have a stutter, but when he auditioned he gave him one.

Was one of the few celebrities invited to and 's Malibu wedding. [June 29, 2000]

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

He and (1998) co-star 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 (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 (2000) - "Heart of Mine" by - 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 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 (1997). The role eventually went to .

Got the role for (1999) because director enjoyed his performance in (1996), which was the only film of the actor's that he had seen.

Dedicated his directoral debut, (2000), to his late mother, Robin.

Brother of Molly Norton and James Norton.

Received History degree from Yale. [1991]

Turned down the role of Private Ryan in (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 (1999). Director could not decide between him and 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 mall.

Lost several pounds for (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 (2000) wanted him to play Patrick Bateman.

Played "Captain" in a VH1 "Captain & Tenille" Behind the Music skit on (1975) with friend the night before the 1999 Oscars when he was a nominee for (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 . [1999-2003]

Dated . [1996-1998]

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 .

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 at Yale.

Was attached at one point to star in (2002) but walked away from the project and an $8 million salary. The role later went to .

Voted International Man of the Year (2003) By British GQ Magazine

Was once attached to star as the lead in (2003)

Born on the same day as .

Shares a birthday with , , and .

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 (1998).

Was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was raised in Columbia, Maryland.

Was 33 years old when he played Will Graham in (2002). His predecessor, , was also 33 years old when he played the same role in (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 famous.

, Edward's friend from his Yale college days, wrote most of what was to become the basis for (2000). Edward starred, produced, and directed the romantic comedy, but he also assisted Stuart in writing the original story.

Won a Village Voice Obie Award for his role in the Off-Broadway Show Burn This in 2003

accompanied him to the Oscar in 1999 where he was nominated for "Best Actor in a Leading Role"

Personal quotes

"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 ] 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 attack."

"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."


(2003) | $1,000,000

(2002) | $500,000

(2002) | $8,000,000

(2002) | $8,000,000

(2001) | $6.5 million

(1996) | $50,000