In his first film, Edward Norton astonished audiences with his
portrayal of a seemingly naive country boy battling dual personalities in 1996’s Primal Fear, co-starring Richard Gere. When the performance won Norton best supporting actor nominations at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Award for best supporting actor, as well as comparisons to a young Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro, the big question was, “Who is Edward Norton?” But being unknown suited Norton just fine. “Every little thing that people know about you as a person impedes your ability to achieve that kind of terrific suspension of disbelief that happens when an audience goes with an actor and character he’s playing,” Norton has said. However, Norton is happy to tell all about one particular subject: his hometown of Baltimore, where his roots run deep. The grandson of famed real estate developer James Rouse, who developed Baltimore’s Harborplace complex as well as the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, 31-year-old Norton grew up in the Baltimore suburb of Columbia, the oldest son of an attorney father and a schoolteacher mom. At age 5, he was captivated by a performance of Cinderella and he has wanted to be an actor ever since. He graduated from Yale, then moved to Japan, where he worked briefly for The Enterprise Foundation, which was founded by his grandfather to develop low-income housing internationally. He then moved to stage productions in New York. After his breakout role in Primal Fear, he won starring roles in Everyone Says I Love You, The People vs. Larry Flynt, American History X (for which he won a second Oscar nod), Fight Club, and Keeping the Faith, which he both directed and starred in. This month, Norton teams up with Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando to play an aggressive thief seeking his first big payday in The Score. But before you catch his fireworks on the big screen, spend the Fourth of July weekend with him in his hometown of Baltimore, the city where “The Star-Spangled Banner” was born.