The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about how difficult Edward Norton is to work with… Apparently.
In Birdman, Oscar-nominated Edward Norton plays a selfish, pretentious actor whom nobody wants to work with because he’s so difficult.
Norton’s performance may not be too far from the truth, according to your favourite film detective and YouTube channel Looper.
Edward Norton is apparently notoriously difficult on set, with many of his co-workers reporting the actor often asks to help write or even rewrite scripts.
On the first day on he set of Silence of the Lambs sequel, Red Dragon, Norton reportedly showed up on set with reams of new script pages he’d written himself, demanding the director film them all.
His creative license was enacted again during filming of The Incredible Hulk. After initially turning down the role in Louis Leterrier’s reboot, Norton eventually singed on with the condition that he could make suggestions to the original screenplay.
According to a statement published by Marvel, Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in the franchise as they wanted ‘an actor who embodies the creative and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.’ 7
One of Norton’s greatest successes was his charismatic and equally horrifying portrayal of a neo-Nazi in American History X.
Despite the film’s popularity, everything behind the scenes did not go smoothly: Norton and director Tony Kaye came to blows over almost every aspect of the film when Norton demanded the final reel be edited again into the Norton-centric, two hour epic we know and love today.
Bitter and angry, Kaye took out 40 adverts in trade papers slamming Norton and even told a reporter the actor was ‘a narcissistic dilettante who raped the film’.
I’d say that’s a career bridge burnt.
In defence of Norton’s ballsy behaviour, an actor’s film choices can make or break a career and reputation and it’s rare to see a craftsman take quite this much pride in his work.
But, all the same, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.