Who is Edward Norton?

Lately there has been a lot of news about casting decisions for Marvel’s super-superhero movie The Avengers. For the most part, actors who have already featured as characters in the sprawling Marvel Universe will reprise their roles, with the exception of Edward Norton, who replaced Eric Bana after only one film. It was announced that Norton too, would be replaced. That’s the movie biz though right? I’ll be honest, I didn’t see The Incredible Hulk but I like Edward Norton’s work in films like Red Dragon, Rounders, American History X, to name just a few. But I remembered reading that the latter film’s director Tony Kaye was so displeased with the way Norton cut his film he wanted to use the Alan Smithee pseudonym in the credits. Granted, Kaye himself was anything but reasonable at that time, but the fact remains that Norton has a reputation for being a control freak when it comes to his films, which is why he was dropped, here is the statement from Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige:

We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks.

I usually don’t give a hoot about actors in their private lives but I have a hard time putting his self-effacing and innocent public persona with Edward the Difficult. Trying to place his measured and calm response to the news with his threats to drop publicity commitments over creative differences. A GQ Magazine interview revealed that he is both talented and perhaps, somewhat arrogant, one colleague observed “There’s the part of Edward that taught himself Japanese at 16. But there’s the part of Edward that tells you he taught himself Japanese at 16,” but I think that he’s also a perfectionist, and takes equal care when working on both message and delivery – I can’t help but agree with him when it comes to his interpretation of Fight Club, and his detestation for mindless consumerism. On the other hand, given how excited he was when he heard about The Avengers, I’m surprised he couldn’t convince Marvel management that he would play nice. Perhaps they want a new man for this film and the Hulk sequels. Either way there are a lot of disappointed fans, and Norton continues to make a reputation as a Hollywood rogue, or an asshole. It all depends on where you sit – in the audience, or in the director’s chair, the editor’s chair, the writer’s chair…

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