“There’s a sat­is­fac­tion in know­ing some­thing has worth that can’t be mea­sured in num­bers”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

YOU HAVE to feel for Ed­ward Nor­ton. His Bourne Legacy costar Jeremy Ren­ner gets to tear around Manila on a mo­tor­bike and scale re­mote moun­tains in the Cana­dian Rock­ies, while Nor­ton spends most of the pro­duc­tion on a New York sound­stage. Not fair, surely.

“M’eh,” he shrugs. “Car chases aren’t as much fun as you think. You’re sit­ting in front of a green screen on a me­chan­i­cal gimbo go­ing like this . . .” He leans this way then that. At 42, es­pe­cially when rid­ing an imag­i­nary mo­tor­bike, he re­tains much of the gan­gly boy­ish­ness that helped pro­pel him to­ward star­dom in the mid-1990s.

“Be­sides, I live in New York,” he adds cheer­fully. “Shoot­ing there is great for me. Take your tie off, home in 20 min­utes. I had that one scene in South Amer­ica with Jeremy. We shot that in Manila. But there’s a limit to the amount of time you want to spend in Manila. It’s not the Lawrence of Ara­bia ex­pe­ri­ence you might have dreamed of at film school. And with the Scot­tish-Ir­ish colour­ing . . . you know . . .” He tails off. Too much in­for­ma­tion. Ed­ward Nor­ton, though a per­fectly co­op­er­a­tive in­ter­vie­wee when quizzed about movies – when he’s in­vari­ably thought­ful and never breaks eye contact – has al­ways been rather ret­i­cent on the sub­ject of Ed­ward Nor­ton. And just in case I didn’t re­mem­ber as much from pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters, I re­ceived a po­lite, firm email from his peo­ple to re­mind me.

Suf­fice it to say, we won’t be ask­ing about Court­ney Love.

Nor­ton has never seemed all that com­fort­able in the lime­light. His lat­est films, Moonrise King­dom and now The Bourne Legacy, arrive af­ter a two-year ab­sence from the sil­ver screen.

“I did those two with Wes An­der­son and Tony Gil­roy back to back,” says Nor­ton. “One was like be­ing in sum­mer stock the­atre and hav­ing fun. The other was se­ri­ous and sil­ver hair. It was a pretty hi­lar­i­ous jump in terms of tone.”

Be­tween jobs, we can only pre­sume he lives qui­etly, work­ing for var­i­ous char­i­ties. He ran the New York City Marathon for the Maa­sai Wilder­ness Con­ser­va­tion Trust in 2009. He sits on the board of his fam­ily’s af­ford­able hous­ing trust, En­ter­prise Community Part­ners. He founded Crow­drise, an on­line net­work for vol­un­teers and char­i­ta­ble mi­cro-do­na­tions in 2010. He has been the UN Good­will Am­bas­sador for Bio­di­ver­sity for more than two years.

He doesn’t want to crow about the char­ity work; the po­lite, firm email said not to speak of it. Fol­low­ing high pro­file ro­mances with Ms Love and Selma Hayek, Nor­ton re­cently pro­posed to pro­ducer Shauna Robert­son, his girl­friend of six years and the only sig­nif­i­cant fe­male pres­ence in Judd Apa­tow’s locker room. But, with or with­out the po­lite, firm email, we know not to ask about that.

“If I ever have to stop tak­ing the sub­way,” Nor­ton told Vogue mag­a­zine in 1997, “I’m gonna have a heart at­tack.” His ca­reer, ac­cord­ingly, has rarely stopped off in any one place for too long.

He’s the song-and-dance man from Ev­ery­body Says I Love You and Death to Smoochy. He’s the di­vided pro­tag­o­nists of Fight Club, The In­cred­i­ble Hulk and Leaves of Grass. He’s the co-star and writer-di­rec­tor of Ben Stiller’s com­edy Keep­ing the Faith. He’s those nasty pieces of work from Amer­i­can His­tory X, Rounders and Down in the Val­ley. He’s a work­ing ac­tor who pops up in Ricky Ger­vais’s The In­ven­tion of Ly­ing, Sasha Baron Co­hen’s The Dic­ta­tor and TV’s Mod­ern Fam­ily. He’s a reg-

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