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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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The film became a cult hit, and officially catapulted Norton to the realm of A-List actors.
The following year proved to one filled with highs and lows for the talented actor. He starred in the satirical look at children's television, Death to Smoochy, which proved to be a critical and commercial dud. In Red Dragon, Norton played a retired FBI agent drawn back into his old investigative life in order to track down a serial killer with a little help from notorious murderer, Hannibal Lecter (played by Anthony Hopkins). The film, a prequel to the hit Silence of the Lambs, was a remake of the 1986 film Manhunter. Norton then starred in director Spike Lee's The 25th Hour as a drug dealer about to start a long prison sentence. The project was a dream come true for Norton, who had been a fan of Lee's work since Do the Right Thing.
After such a hectic roll-out of films, Norton took a break for several years, accepting only two supporting roles—one in 2003's The Italian Job, and the other in 2005's Kingdom of Heaven. "I didn't want to go into something feeling less than totally enthused about it just for the sake of getting paid," he told Entertainment Weekly.
Norton expanded his role behind the scenes. In 2003, he founded Class 5 Films with Stuart Blumberg, a friend of his since his Yale days. The company produced Down in the Valley (2006), an independent drama starring Norton as a cowboy who moves to California and gets involved with a younger woman (Evan Rachel Wood). That same year, the company also produced The Painted Veil, a historical drama of betrayal set in China during a cholera epidemic. Norton played a doctor who learns his wife (played by Naomi Watts) is involved with another man (played by Liev Schreiber).
Speaking on Norton's reputation as a difficult actor to work with, his co-star Naomi Watts said, "I think that there's no question that Edward is going to challenge every director that he works with. But if the director is smart, he will always listen to Edward's ideas, because 99 percent of the time they're brilliant."
Also in 2006, Norton starred in the historical mystery drama The Illusionist. He played a magician who uses his talents to help the woman he loves (played by Jessica Biel) in turn-of-the-century Vienna. Norton went through a very different type of transformation for his next role, starring as the title character in 2008's The Incredible Hulk. The film proved to be a summer box-office hit, netting more than $134 million.
Norton next starred opposite Colin Farrell in the 2008 crime drama Pride and Glory. Working behind the scenes, he served as a producer on the political documentary By the People: The Election of Barack Obama.
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