Posted by Alia Haddad on August 17, 2012 at 10:03 am
In a recent interview with The Playlist, Edward Norton discusses what drew him to his latest role, playing Col. Eric Byer in the latest installment of the Jason Bourne movies, The Bourne Legacy. The interview itself is fairly interesting, with Norton talking mainly about what drew him to this “complex” character. Is his character in The Bourne Legacy truly complex? I’m not sure, I have yet to see the film that as of yet has failed to reinvent the franchise. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter if I even have the intention of seeing this film, because the content of this post is not concerned with Edward Norton’s current role, but rather the current state of Edward Norton’s roles. Rather, when reading this interview, I found myself wondering, “Where did Edward Norton the movie star go?”
Let’s start with his current role. Upon learning that Norton was set to star in the Bourne reboot, I was immediately convinced that he was to play Jason Bourne himself. You may write this off as wishful thinking, but I believe it merits a closer look. Ever since his film debut in the early 90′s, Norton seemed to be bred for action star and, if not action star, then certainly lead actor material.
After strong roles in Primal Fear and Rounders, Norton became a household name starring as white-power ex-con Derek Vinyard in American History X (clearly, a very household-appropriate type of film). His next movie was Fight Club in which he starred, and fought, opposite Brad Pitt. From there, Norton starred and, not to mention mostly led, hits such as The 25th Hour, The Italian Job remake, and Down in the Valley. Is it so much to expect that the man who played hyper-masculine convicts, con men, and even The Hulk to take the lead in The Bourne Legacy?
Well, I’m afraid it is, because as of late, not only have Norton’s roles gotten smaller (how much bigger can a role get after playing the title character in The Hulk, right?) but they’ve also become increasingly desexualized. Gone is the drug dealer who woos a 17-year old Catholic school girl or a schizophrenic insurance adjuster who not only cures himself of his main psychological ailment, but also gets the quirky girl. Nope, now we get Norton as a 12 year-old boy trapped in a grown camp counselor’s body in Moonrise Kingdom and a political antagonist who shares only one scene with the main action star in The Bourne Legacy.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Norton’s exploratory nature, especially when it leads him to a guest starring role on Modern Family, but I also liked the masculinized Norton as well. Hopefully we haven’t witnessed the death of that latter Norton just yet. Here’s hoping that this is just a hiatus.