Prime Five Films by Edward Norton


Primal Fear, a 1996 courtroom thriller starring Edward Norton, introduced audiences to a new actor through his dynamic and nuanced portrayals of characters who prompted audience members to question their actions. Additionally, he executed one of the most remarkable narrative developments in the annals of cinema. Although he is well-known for his roles in Wes Anderson films, Norton’s capabilities extend far beyond what those roles would indicate. He carries this sardonic dark comedy with ease and spirit as the boorish theater actor Mike Shiner.

1. The Bourne Identity (2006)

Norton proves he’s just as good in action movies as he is in dramas with this understated role. He plays Eisenheim, a talented stage illusionist who falls for the Duchess Sophie Von Teschen (Jessica Biel). Although it doesn’t reach the heights of the Matt Damon Bourne films, this lookmovie film offers plenty of thrills and spills.

Norton’s performances in American History X and Fight Club cemented his status as an icon of modern masculinity, but it was this movie that first showed off his ability to play complicated characters that are both likable and unlikable. His character, Miles Bron, has some Elon Musk in him while still being a regular guy you can root for.

Milos Forman’s biopic of “Hustler” editor Larry Flynt is a surprisingly nuanced examination of free speech and patriotism, with Norton playing the straight man to Woody Harrelson’s flamboyant turn as Flynt.

2. The Last King of Scotland (2007)

With his unique brand of acting, Edward Norton isn’t your average Hollywood star. He elicits gasps from movie theaters and living rooms alike with his brilliant performances that leave an impact on audiences. In this film, he plays Derek, a skinhead gangster who slowly gains a conscience. It’s a disturbing and thought-provoking piece of social commentary that still resonates 23 years later.

The movie also showcases Norton’s innate ability to deliver offbeat and hilarious one-liners. He delivers a performance that is both intense and relatable, which is why it earned a 68 score with critics and an 8.6 rating with audiences on Metacritic. This was the first film of Norton’s directorial career. He would go on to helm two more films.

3. The Bourne Legacy (2008)

A smart actor is hard-pressed to play a dumb character, but Norton pulls it off with aplomb in this Wes Anderson comedy. As a fussy concierge whose mustache does most of the work, he delivers his lines with perfect deadpan and carries this spinoff of Jason Bourne without ever overstating things.

Edward Norton’s most enduring role is that of the film’s unnamed narrator in Fight Club, an over-the-top yet deeply critical look at toxic masculinity and misguided notions of power. Though the movie had its share of skeptics upon its release, its cult status today is largely due to the film’s enigmatic central performance by Norton.

4. The Bourne Supremacy (2012)

Edward Norton hasn’t had the soaring box office success of some other late-90s breakout stars, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made his mark on Hollywood. A string of powerful performances has cemented his status as one of the most versatile actors of his generation.

Fight Club was initially met with mixed reception, but it found footing later on and became one of the most enduring edward norton movies. Norton’s unnamed narrator constantly comments on the events unfolding around him, making his character relatable to viewers and allowing him to explore concepts like consumerism and identity.

Milos Forman’s biopic of Larry Flynt turned Norton into a regular guy you can root for as he earnestly defends the titular “Hustler” editor. He holds his own against screen veteran Woody Harrelson and delivers a performance that’s both evocative and intelligent.

5. The Bourne Legacy (2013)

In Leaves of Grass, Norton plays a violent former neo-Nazi skinhead who tries to prevent his younger brother from following the same path. The film explores the destructive power of hate and features one of Norton’s most memorable characters.

Primal Fear established him as a fully formed movie star with incredible acting talents. His performance as a courtroom thriller’s unnamed protagonist is a master class in how to convey complex and dynamic characters that the audience can invest in.

Norton also acted in Motherless Brooklyn, an underrated period noir crime drama that examines the challenges of racial prejudice in New York City. The film was a critical and commercial success, highlighting Norton’s versatility as an actor. His characterization of a drifter countdown to his last hours of freedom is an excellent showcase for his abilities. He also starred in Neil Burger’s The Illusionist, set in the world of magic in the 19th century.