Ed Norton is a tough actor to pin down having appeared in critically acclaimed blockbusters, indie flicks and disappointments. For every Fight Club there is a Death to Smoochy…
Despite never quite scaling the heights that his talent fully deserved, Ed Norton is without a doubt one of the greatest living actors. Here are 5 of his most compelling and memorable characters.
5. Monty Brogan – 25th Hour
Best Quote: Too long to transcribe here but see above video. Well worth a watch even out of context.
Best Moment – The above rant, whilst brilliantly written by David Benioff, is bought to life by a self righteous and toxic Norton who somehow also brings a sympathetic edge to what is basically a diatribe of hate. It is also one of the great on screen monologues.
Spike Lee’s 25th Hour is an underrated gym that not enough people have seen. It is perhaps more poignant than ever given recent events and bubbling tensions.
4. Lester ‘Worm’ Murphy – Rounders
Best Quote: ‘I guess the sayings’ true. In the poker game of life, women are the rake man. They are the fuckin’ rake.’
Best Moment – Worm returns to Matt Damon’s Mike McDermott’s life like a whirlwind destroying everything in his path. This is never more devastating then when Worm surprises McDermott while he is hustling a poker game for cops… it doesn’t go well.
Like 25th Hour, Rounders is a criminally underrated gem. It is also bang in the middle of Norton’s golden run starting with Primal Fear and taking in American History X and Fight Club.
3. Mike – Birdman
Best Quote: ‘Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.’
Best Moment: Mike is undoubtedly one of Norton’s more abrasive characters. Mike’s initial arrival on the set of Riggan’s play is a tour de force in snarky, passive aggressive, douchebaggery from Norton who appears to be relishing every second of playing such an arrogant jack ass.
In his later career Norton has had much more success playing supporting characters such as in Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom.
2. Derek Vinyard – American History X
Best Quote: ‘If you come near Danny again, I will feed you your fucking heart, Cameron.’
Best Moment: Perhaps unfairly American History X will always be remembered for the infamous ‘curb stomp’ scene but Derek losing it over the family dinner table at his mother for dating a Jewish man is just as powerful.
American History X is the 32nd best film ever made according to IMDB users despite only being nominated for 1 Oscar. Like Shawshank Redemption before it however, American History X is now receiving the plaudits and the audience it initially deserved, years after the fact. Derek Vinyard is Ed Norton’s best performance but not his most iconic character. That plaudit belongs to…
1. The Narrator – Fight Club
Best Quote: ‘I am Jack’s smirking revenge…’
Best Moment: In a film bustling with memorable scenes it is nigh on impossible to pick just one. The opening hushed narration, the first fight with Tyler, crying into Bob’s tits, the destruction of Jared Leto, the heart wrenching finale of watching society collapse with Marla by his side etc.
The defining moment for the Narrator however comes when Tyler burns his hand with Lye. Norton’s screaming and wincing makes the pain seem real and his beautiful realization ‘it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything’ frames the rest of the movie.