Source of image: Keeping the Faith lobby cards
If you have to believe in something, you might as well believe in love
"It's our $30 million rabbi-priest joke"-- Edward Norton
Coming to NBC- Keeping the Faith, the TV series?
According to E! Online's TV Scoop (12/24/02), EN is serving as executive producer on a TV series based on Keeping the Faith [Thanks to Laura for the info!]
Father Brian Finn (Edward Norton) and Rabbi Jacob Schram (Ben Stiller) have been best friends since they were kids. Their friendship is put to the test when each falls for Anna Reilly (Jenna Elfman), a corporate executive and a childhood friend to both, who suddenly reenters their lives. Neither man can pursue a lasting relationship with her due to their religious convictions: the priest is constrained by his vows and the rabbi cannot marry her because she is a gentile.
This romantic comedy also features Anne Bancroft, Eli Wallach, Ron Rifkin, and Holland Taylor. People vs. Larry Flynt director Milos Forman plays Norton's monsignor and adviser in the movie (Variety 6/29/99). Norton makes his directorial debut also produced the movie. EN and screenwriter/producer Stuart Blumberg have been looking forward to working together for a while: they have been friends since both attended Yale and then later roomed together in New York (Blumberg also appeared briefly in Fight Club as a car salesman). The project started filming in New York City on May 24, 1999 (Hollywood Reporter production listing 6/7/99). It was released in the U.S. on April 14, 2000.
Excerpts from Interviews
I pulled these from several different interviews. Links to the full-text of the articles are below.
"The film interested me because it's about what it means to be young, modern, and human in a multicultural place like New York City. All my friends who are Jewish have this tension that they feel between being the children of the civil-rights generation and the ultimate flowering of everything that they worked for in those days - 'I'm dating a girl who is half-Japanese or black' - when, on another level, they're getting this pressure from exactly the opposite direction, to maintain the traditions of their culture, to honor them on some level. It's a great romantic triangle in the Philadelphia Story mode, capped with a universal pool of humor common to the experiences a lot of people our age have, especially those brought up getting religious pressure from parents."
More than just a rabbi-priest joke
"When I showed the script to Milos Forman, he said that I had to forget that it's a rabbi and a priest. If they weren't a rabbi and a priest, what would this movie be about? I said I thought it was about turning 30, or reaching that stage where certain assumptions about yourself, which you've reached a little too confidently, get shaken up and you have to evolve into a slightly more mature, humble understanding of your own condition, an awareness that you're always going to be developing, changing and not getting too set in the ideas borne of your own early success. Irrespective of quote-unquote success, I think that's something a lot of people coming to that point in life can relate to."
Norton on his directing and producing debut
"It wasn't like, 'Oh, I'm going to do a comedy,' you know? It was more that I just liked the story. I wasn't originally going to be in it. My friend wrote it and we rewrote it together for a long time, and it reached this point where he looked at me and went, 'Why don't you direct it?' And I said, 'D'you think?' And he said, 'Well, you know what's going to happen. They'll go and they'll get somebody, and they won't get our Bella Abzug jokes, and stuff like that, and they'll screw it up.' And I went, 'You know, it's probably true, and we'll end up sitting around tearing our hair out while they shoot the wrong parts of New York.' So we just decided to do it.
"It was really challenging...To me, shifting over into taking on some of those responsibilities was a way of keeping myself off balance creatively or getting back into a place where I was feeling like I didn't have a frame of reference. It was that, it was just a highly adrenalized experience."
"It's a spiritual challenge to remain Zen in the face of the chaos that inevitably happens in the course of making a movie. All this money is flowing straight down the toilet, and you're sitting there, waiting on clouds to move, and you just have to cool out and accept it a part of the process, and it's good.
"I tend to be micro-managerial. As an actor, it's hard not to give line readings to other actors. But it was good for me, in terms of trying to take a deep breath and have the confidence to just back off and let things happen on their own for a while, before coming in over the top and saying, 'Okay, that was miserable. Now let's do it my way.'"
"To me, the most punk-rock thing you could possibly do now, in 2000, is to make a comedy that is our generation's, that is hip, that is cool - but that's completely square in its total straightforwardness. The most clichéd thing you could do now is ironic detachment, that cynical cool, which has become an utterly boring cliché. I've never related to that attitude."
Has the experience made him a different actor? "Yes, I'll never be late again," he laughs.
Preparing for the Role
"I grew up an honorary Jew. If you go to more than 10 bar mitzvahs, you get an honorary Jewish certificate. I went to at least 10 in one year. I was drunk on [kosher wine] for half of 1983."
Edward Norton as a blonde. Too weird? Not really. EN has stated that his hair has been darkened for several of his roles and his hair is naturally lighter (I don't know if it is really that blonde). "I wanted Brian to have a halo--a sun-kissed, God-touched kind of thing."
Edward Norton is also the Executive Album Producer on the Keeping the Faith soundtrack. Here are some of his comments on the music.
"The main song in the movie and over the end credits is done by an old, old friend of mine [Peter Salett] who's a rising singer/songwriter. He actually didn't write that song for the movie as much as it sounds like he did. It was a song he had written, and I had heard it, and I threw it in there.
"Elmer Bernstein is an amazing film composer, and he did this great music for our movie that gave it, I think, a very classical feel; but I said to him, 'Look, the thing is, I got this Tom Waits song I'm going to put in there because I want it to be our spin on what's romantic about New York.' And I tried to put in Tom Waits and Elliott Smith and a lot of the Buena Vista Social Club jazz artists and other people I like to listen to, just to put our spin on the classic theme."
The Film's Dedication
(P.S. He's ALIVE!!!)
One unexpected question keeps popping up with people after seeing Keeping the Faith: Is Edward Norton alive? Yes, he is alive. The confusion stems from people misreading the film's dedication. Keeping the Faith is the first film that EN has ever directed and ever produced. He chose to dedicate it to his mother, who passed away a few years ago. The dedication at the end of the film reads:
"In loving memory of Robin Norton
Who had faith in everybody"
France- Au nom d'Anna (In the Name of Anna); Spain- Más que amigos ("More than Friends"); Italy- Tentazioni d'amore("Temptations of love"); Germany- Glauben ist alles! ("Faith is Everything!"); Sweden- Tro, hopp, kärlek ("Faith, Hope, Love"); Norway - Tro håp og forviklinger
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