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2-min read

Happy Birthday Edward Norton: 5 Roles that Prove He is One of the Most Versatile Actors

On Edward Norton's 50th birthday, here are 5 roles that prove he is one of the most versatile actors.

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Updated:August 18, 2019, 11:50 AM IST
Happy Birthday Edward Norton: 5 Roles that Prove He is One of the Most Versatile Actors
Image courtesy: Reuters

Recipient of a Golden Globe Award and three Academy Award nominations, among other accolades, Edward Norton celebrates his birthday on August 18. Born in 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts, the actor, who gained immediate recognition for his debut film Primal Fear in 1996, went on to star in several other acclaimed films over the years. His role as a reformed neo-Nazi in 1998's American History X, not only earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor, but his film Fight Club garnered a cult following.

Besides acting, he is an environmental activist, social entrepreneur and is United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity. Notably, Norton had once cited Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro as being two of his early inspirations in acting because he felt they were the ones who made him think he could get into acting because they weren't the most handsome guys.

On the actor's 50th birthday, here are 5 roles that prove he is one of the most versatile actors.

Primal Fear (1996) The neo-noir crime-thriller starring Richard Gere as a famed Chicago defense attorney and Edward Norton (debut) as his altar boy client, who Gere believes is not guilty of murdering an influential Catholic Archbishop, the film established Norton as an actor from the get-go. Norton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture. The film saw him shift between two personalities, one a stuttering shy kid, and the other, that of a cold-blooded and calculating mind. However, it remains to be seen, which one is real.

American History X (1998): The film tells the story of two brothers from Venice, Los Angeles who become involved in a white supremacist/neo-Nazi movement. The older brother serves three years in prison for voluntary manslaughter, changes his beliefs and tries to prevent his brother from going down the same path. Edward Norton plays the older brother effortlessly as his transformation from a white supremacist to a genuinely caring individual is beautifully chronicled in the Tom Kayne directorial. The film earned Norton an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Fight Club (1999): Starring Brad pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter in pivotal roles, the film saw Norton play the narrator, who disgruntled with his white-collar employee who forms a "fight club" with Tyler Durden (Pitt). Norton also becomes involved in a relationship with him and a impoverished woman, Marla Singer, played by Bonham Carter. While it received mixed-reviews at the time of its release, the film has, since then, gone on to become a cult classic.

The Illusionist (2006): The romantic mystery had Edward Norton play the role of Eisenheim, a magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna, who reunites with his childhood love, a woman far above his social standing. The film also depicts a fictionalized version of the Mayerling incident -- the series of events surrounding the apparent murder–suicide of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria and his lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera.

Birdman (2014): The black comedy had Michael Keaton play the role of Riggan Thomson, a faded Hollywood actor best known for playing the superhero 'Birdman' as he tries to mount a Broadway adaptation of a short story by Raymond Carver. While the film in itself was an intriguing look into an actor's mind, Norton, who played the supporting character the brilliant but volatile method actor Mike Shiner, managed to get an Academy Award nomination for the same.

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