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Has EDWARD NORTON failed to live up to his late '90's promise...?

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Has EDWARD NORTON failed to live up to his late '90's promise...?

Old 03-09-07, 08:21 PM
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Has EDWARD NORTON failed to live up to his late '90's promise...?

Edward Norton took the world by storm in 1996 when he debuted in the Richard Gere film Primal Fear as Aaron Stampler, and earned an Academy Award nomination (for supporting actor) right out of the gate for the effort.
Also in 1996, he played opposite Woody Harrelson in the great Milos Forman biopic, People Vs Larry Flynt as Flynt's lawyer - cementing his position as Hollywood's newest member.

To think: this mild-mannered, ordinary-looking guy became a leading actor practically overnight - based simply on his talent, and not based on overwhelming good looks (he's not ugly, but he's no matinee idol).

Norton continued his run of good films through the '90's with films like Rounders and American History X, both in 1998 (the latter film giving Norton his second Oscar-nomination - this time for Best Actor), and in 1999 starred opposite Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

After that...I think Edward Norton said "fuck it" and decided to go for the paycheck. Look at the films he did after the turn of the century:

Keeping the Faith (2000)
The Score (2001)
Death to Smoochy (2002)
Frida (2002)
Red Dragon (2002)
25th Hour (2002)
The Italian Job (2003)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Down In The Valley (2005)
The Illusionist (2006)
The Painted Veil (2006)


Aside from Frida, which was not an Edward Norton film and the films he did in 2006 (The Illusionist and The Painted Veil, which could sort of be considered "comeback films" because they're actually efforts at acting as opposed to bang-em-up action films), the rest of the films really are below his talents (I heard 25th Hour was not bad, but it didn't exactly light the world on fire).

What happened? Does anybody aside from myself feel that Norton sold out for the almighty dollar fairly early in his blooming career? At least when Tom Cruise sold out, he did it after two decades of solid films. Norton sold out after four years.

Last edited by Buttmunker; 03-09-07 at 08:24 PM.
Old 03-09-07, 08:31 PM
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Ed Norton was in Kingdom of Heaven???? HTF did I miss that!?!
Old 03-09-07, 08:37 PM
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He was great in 25th Hour, but he wasnt too hot in the others
Old 03-09-07, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Lateralus
Ed Norton was in Kingdom of Heaven???? HTF did I miss that!?!
He was the leprous king.
Old 03-09-07, 08:49 PM
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Just because you don't like many of those films, does not make them sellouts. It's not like he went Nicolas Cage and started making a boatload of dumb action films.

Keeping the Faith (2000)
The Score (2001)
Death to Smoochy (2002)
Frida (2002)
Red Dragon (2002)
25th Hour (2002)
The Italian Job (2003)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Down In The Valley (2005)
The Illusionist (2006)
The Painted Veil (2006)


Some duds for certain, but still a variety of genres and film budgets.
Old 03-09-07, 08:51 PM
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I'm one of the few that liked Death to Smoochy.
Old 03-09-07, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Parcher
He was the leprous king.

Well that explains it!
Old 03-09-07, 08:56 PM
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The 25th Hour is one of my favorite films of all time. I had heard he took a break from acting but I'm sure he'll come back with an Oscar worthy performance in something.
Old 03-09-07, 10:05 PM
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I think he has been solid in every roll except The Italian Job. That one seemed like just a paycheck.
Old 03-09-07, 10:20 PM
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i enjoy most of what he is in. one of my more favorite actors of the current time frame.

plus he is from near my hometown
Old 03-09-07, 10:20 PM
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Keeping the Faith (2000) - didn't he write and direct this, not exactly a sellout
The Score (2001) - paycheck, worked with Deniro & Brando, you say no to that
Death to Smoochy (2002) - very dark comedy, not commercial
Frida (2002) - Working for his girlfriend and i think he helped on the script
Red Dragon (2002) - paycheck, no real excuse except that coming off Hannibal it was a hot franchise
25th Hour (2002) - This lives up to his 90's promise, edgy film with great acting
The Italian Job (2003) - paycheck, and from what i can remember he tried to get out of it
Kingdom of Heaven (2005) - not even advertised as being in the film
Down In The Valley (2005) - independent
The Illusionist (2006) - disappointed only by the ending, he was good in it
Old 03-09-07, 11:19 PM
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I want to say yes. Since American History X he hasn't delivered anything up to that level. Doesn't make him a bad actor or a sell-out.
Old 03-10-07, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by BigDaddy
I think he has been solid in every roll except The Italian Job. That one seemed like just a paycheck.
He was forced into doing it by contractual obligation.
Old 03-10-07, 01:55 AM
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I loved 25th Hour, and I liked his performance in Red Dragon.
Old 03-10-07, 02:08 AM
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I really liked him (and the movie) Down In the Valley. I mean hell, I barely recignized him when he first appeared on screen (and didn't really know anything about the movie )
Old 03-10-07, 02:46 AM
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I really liked:
Keeping the Faith (2000)
Red Dragon (2002)

25th Hour (2002)
is a great film and Ed was perfect in it.
Old 03-10-07, 02:51 AM
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oh shit did not know he was in kingdom of heaven.
Old 03-10-07, 03:32 AM
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He was forced into doing it by contractual obligation.
And strangely enough, that was the most entertaining he's been since Fight Club.

I think like his The Score co-star Robert De Niro, there's just simply no energy or vitality to Norton's performances anymore; he has been on autopilot for several years now. And I am honestly curious if his ego and his need for control is getting in the way of taking on more riskier, interesting material.

I've read a lot of interviews/profiles of Norton, and he seems to take himself very seriously, especially over the past few years. And as such, his movie choices seem to be very, very serious, sometimes ponderously so. He's mentioned rewriting scripts to movies he has been in, and in one interview flat out stated he basically wrote all of Frida; look at IMDb, and he's had a co-producer credit on almost all of his movies since 2002. And it's no secret that he took over the editing of American History X.

And this is pure speculation, but if you look at his last 3 movies (Down in the Valley, The Illusionist, The Painted Veil) and the upcoming Pride & Glory, they're all directed by relative unknowns, and I think this is for an important reason. The optimist in me says that Norton wants to help get these new directors a leg up in the industry; the realist in me says that Norton does this so he can easily steamroll the director and get his way. I mean, who do you think the studio will back when there's creative differences?

And in my opinion, almost all of his films since Fight Club have been a constant stream of bland and suck. Let's take a look:

American History X - A lot of people love this, but to me it's nothing more than a glorified after-school special. For what its worth though, Norton is fantastic.
Keeping the Faith - Far too long for such a conventional romcom that could have been made by and starred anyone.
Death to Smoochy, Red Dragon - Both awful, awful movies for several reasons, with Norton being horribly miscast in both.
Frida - Excellent film, but Norton's role is basically a cameo.
The Italian Job - Solid entertainment, but something tells me he showed up on the set, said his lines and left, keeping his distance from everyone.
25th Hour - Norton's actually pretty good, but a badly shoehorned-in 9/11 plot element (which was not helped by its overbearing music score) overrides what could have been an intimate, small-scale work of art. I know I'm in the minority with this, though.
Kingdom of Heaven - Essentially stunt casting when you get down to it; it can be hard to bring anything to the table when you're behind a mask that doesn't move. Just ask Hugo Weaving.
Down in the Valley - Haven't seen.
The Illusionist - A stiff, one-note performance for a stiff, one-note movie. Paul Giamatti saves the day.
The Painted Veil - Any sensible director would have made Norton dump that hideously bad British accent. The movie itself is like other costume dramas: repressed feelings, pretty visuals, third-world tragedies as seen through the eyes of white people, blah blah blah; it's all been done before, and the movie brings nothing new or interesting to it.

Am I saying that Edward Norton is a lost cause and should give up? Despite what I just said, no, he shouldn't; I'd take him over somebody like say, Aston Kutcher, anytime. But I really think he could soar again if he loosened up and worked with directors who have unique visions and can really push him into doing parts he hasn't done before, or are expected of him. Based on his roles in the 90's, he clearly has it in him.

(Jeez, between this and my 300 review, I sure am giving long-winded replies. I'm usually not this wordy, I swear! )

Last edited by GreenVulture; 03-10-07 at 03:35 AM.
Old 03-10-07, 09:05 AM
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25h Hour is by far the best film Norton's ever starred in.
Old 03-10-07, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by BigDaddy
I think he has been solid in every roll except The Italian Job. That one seemed like just a paycheck.

You beat me to it. I agree 100%. Commercial or indie film, he is the best actor of generation working today. I thought he was amazing in "Red Dragon".
Old 03-10-07, 10:39 AM
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25th Hour is a very good film.

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