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 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 Richard Gere in a new courtroom thriller, Primal Fear (1996). The role was offered to Leonardo DiCaprio 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 Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You (1996) and 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 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 American History X (1998). This performance would earn him his second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor. In 1999 came the critically acclaimed Fight Club (1999) and in 2000 came his directorial debut in 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 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 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 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 Nick Broomfield's controversial documentary _Kurt & Courtney (1998)_ . The film, filled with speculation that Love's husband 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 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 Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)).
His character Aaron Stampler in Primal Fear (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 Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's Malibu wedding. [June 29, 2000]
During filming, he and Fight Club (1999) co-star Brad Pitt took soap-making classes.
He and Rounders (1998) co-star 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 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 Keeping the Faith (2000) - "Heart of Mine" by 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 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 The Rainmaker (1997). The role eventually went to Matt Damon.
Got the role for Fight Club (1999) because director David Fincher enjoyed his performance in The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), which was the only film of the actor's that he had seen.
Dedicated his directoral debut, 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 Saving Private