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Versatile film actor Edward Norton has starred in movies such as Primal Fear, American History X, and The Incredible Hulk.
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Actor. Born August 18, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, Edward Norton Sr., was a former federal prosecutor under President Jimmy Carter's administration and his mother, Robin, was an English teacher. He grew up the eldest of three children in the progressive, multicultural community of Columbia, Maryland, which was founded by his grandfather, James Rouse (who also designed Boston's Faneuil Hall). Norton was an extremely bright and serious young boy, deciding at the age of 5 to pursue acting, after watching a babysitter perform in the play If I Were a Princess. Shortly after, he commanded the stage in Annie Get Your Gun at Orenstein's Columbia School for Theatrical Arts, and is rumored to have asked questions like, "What is my objective in this scene?" at the tender age of 8.
Norton continued acting (and playing basketball) throughout high school and, after graduating, went on to Yale to pursue studies in astronomy, history and Japanese. He acted in several undergraduate productions, often to campus-wide acclaim. Upon graduating in 1991 with a history degree, Norton moved to Japan where he worked for his grandfather's company, Enterprise Foundation, a business devoted to establishing international low-income housing. It was not until his return to New York in 1994 that Norton decided to put all other interests aside and devote his energy and intelligence to acting.
While supporting himself as a waiter, Norton appeared in several off-off-Broadway productions including Brian Friel's Lovers and John Patrick Shanley's Italian American Reconciliation. After impressing celebrated playwright Edward Albee in an audition, Norton was cast in his next production, Fragments, and subsequently earned a place in the New York Signature Theater Company.
In the meantime, the producers of a Hollywood courtroom thriller were struggling to find a co-star for actor Richard Gere, who was threatening to walk away from the film. After Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the role, casting proceeded to audition 2,100 actors—none of whom were able to capture the subtleties of a seemingly innocent Southern boy on the brink of insanity. Norton showed up to audition, sporting a flawless Southern drawl and telling casting directors that he hailed from eastern Kentucky. During the audition, he crouched in a corner and decided to give the young man a stutter, blowing away casting directors in the screen test with the convincing intensity of his performance. Norton was immediately cast, and was later credited for rescuing Primal Fear (1996) from the annals of Hollywood obscurity.
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