Edward Norton was born in Maryland in 1969. His father was an environmental lawyer and a former federal prosecutor, while his mother was a teacher of English and died of a brain tumor in 1997.
Norton, after graduating from Columbia’s Wilde Lake High School in 1987, attended Yale University, where he was a competitive rowerand acted in university productions in company with Ron Livingston and Paul Giamatti, who nowadays are also well-known American actors. In 1991, Norton graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and he worked in Osaka for his grandfather’s company, Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit organization.
Later, he decided to move to New York City and begin his acting career in Off-Broadway theater. His first film was Primal Fear (1996), which tells a story of a defense attorney (Richard Gere), who defends Aaron Stampler (Norton), a boy charged with the murder of a Roman Catholic archbishop. Despite the mixed reviews, with this performance, Norton won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In the same year, he appeared as lawyer Alan Isaacman in The People vs. Larry Flynt, a biographical drama film.
In 1998, Norton took on the role of Derek Vinyard, a reformed neo-Nazi, in the film American History X, whichreceived positive reception. His performance deserved him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.Also in the same year, he starred with Matt Damon in Rounders, a movie following two friends who need to earn enough money playing poker to pay off a huge debt.
In 1999 in film Fight Club, Norton played the protagonist, and in order to prepare for the role, he took lessons in boxing and taekwondo. Fight Club made its debut at the 1999 Venice International Film Festival, but it received different reactions from film critics.However, it became a cult classic after its DVD release.
In 2002, he starred in different films: Red Dragon as FBI profiler Will Graham and in 25th Hour.While Red Dragon was commercially successful although it received mixed reviews, 25th Hour was praised by critics.
In 2003, Norton appeared in The Italian Job, and he won critical acclaim for his role in Kingdom of Heaven. Furthermore, he represented Marvel Comics character Bruce Banner / the Hulk in the film The Incredible Hulk, which was released in 2008.
In 2006, Norton starred in two films: Down in the Valley and The Illusionist, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and later, became a piece of media that gained a sudden success when it went into general release.In 2010, Norton appeared in two films again: Leaves of Grass and Stone. He also made other appearances in different comedy shows. His last performance was in The Bourne Legacy, which was released in 2012.
Regarding his personal life, Norton is known for his objection to accept his celebrity status. He is also well-known for his support for environmental causes and different renewable energy projects. Moreover, he put time and money to diverse social activist causes, including improving the quality of living in low-income communities or taking part in charity events.