I thought I should include a brief description of projects that might have starred Edward Norton, but for one reason or another, something happened and he's not in the film or there is no film, etc.
You may notice that the details are a bit sketchy on some and I can't really do anything about it. I don't have the "inside track" and it seems that not a lot of reasons are publically given as to why someone passed on a role. It could be personal reasons, conflicts with another picture, the script sucks, the actor's vision of the movie is different than the director's, it's too close to other roles that the actor has played, etc. - I don't know, but here's what we do know: for whatever reason, Edward Norton is not in these projects. The films are listed alphabetically
A Streetcar Named Desire- Edward Norton, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore had planned to participate in a staged reading of the Tennessee Williams classic (New York Post 8/13/99). And EN seemed enthusiastic when he was asked about it at the Sept 28, 1999 Fight Club press roundtable. However, this never ended up happening. EN didn't get to play Marlon Brando's classic role, but he did get to work with Brando and Robert De Niro in The Score
American Psycho- Christian Bale was picked for the part of stockbroker/serial killer Patrick Bateman in this film based on Brett Easton Ellis' controversial novel, but he was quickly tossed aside when Leonardo Di Caprio expressed some interest in the role. Di Caprio lost interest and before offering the role back to Bale, they spoke with Edward Norton and Ewan MacGregor for the part (Variety 10/12/98).
Hart's War- This project would have reteamed EN with Gregory Hoblit, who directed him in his debut film Primal Fear(which snagged him an Oscar nomination). However, soon after he was confirmed for taking the project, he dropped out and chose instead to star in Death to Smoochy opposite Robin Williams. The role instead went to Colin Farrell.
Howard Hughes biopic- Variety's Dish column (1/13/00) mentioned the possibility of Edward Norton portraying billionaire recluse Howard Hughes in a biopic directed by Milos Forman and written by screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon). Since this comes from Variety, it is more reliable than other casting rumors. Please note that the column indicates that this very, very preliminary (so whether or not anything will come of it is anyone's guess). Another factor to consider to whether or not this will go forward is that this is only the latest of a few Hughes bios that are in planning stages, one of which would include Leonardo Di Caprio. This column was published only a few weeks before the opening of Di Caprio's The Beach. A week or less after this story was published, I saw an interview segment on Access Hollywood with Di Caprio where he made a point of mentioning how interested he was in making the Hughes biopic. Was his choice to discuss the Hughes biopic influenced by this Variety mention of a biopic including EN? Was the Di Caprio interview taped before this came out in Variety? I don't know.
Man in the Moon- This biographical movie on the life of comedian Andy Kaufman would have re-teamed EN back with director Milos Forman and screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewsk (all of them worked together on The People Vs. Larry Flynt) and also have him working with Danny DeVito (EN was very close to working with DeVito on The Rainmaker). Several actors were interested in the part including Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Nicholas Cage, and Gary Oldman. Forman asked all of them to submit audition tapes. Cage decided to drop out of the running. Here is where the story gets really weird (how fitting for a picture on Kaufman): a man had been impersonating Oldman. The man (as Oldman) had been speaking with an unsuspecting DeVito for months and submitted an audition tape "impersonating Oldman impersonating Kaufman" to Forman (Mr. Showbiz, 3/6/98). The real Gary Oldman had passed the role much earlier, and became aware of the scam after he found his name listed as one of the actors auditioning for the part. Nothing came of the scam, and eventually it just became a competition between Carrey and Norton with Carrey getting the role (Variety 3/2/98). In an Oct 2000 Total Film interview, EN talked about the film:
I talked to Milos about that for a while, and we made a little film of me doing the Andy Kaufman stuff. He was gonna do that in the summer of '98, but I wasn't available until, like, January '99. There was a feeling from Milos that he had the enthusiasm, the studio and the money. Jim Carrey really wanted to do it too, so I said, "Look, if you gotta make it, go make it." I think it meant more to Jim. It was right in a way, that he did it.
EN was unavailable during that time because he was filming Fight Club. He did work again with Milos Forman - Forman had a supporting role in EN's directing debut Keeping the Faith
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil- In the film adaptation of John Berendt's book, Edward Norton was offered the lead role of John Kelso (the personification of the author) opposite Kevin Spacey (directed by Clint Eastwood). EN turned this role and a lead role in The Thin Red Line down due to "family and scheduling problems" (Variety, 5/6/97). The role went to John Cusack.
Rainmaker- The lead role of Rudy Baylor in this film based on John Grisham's novel of the same name (starring Danny De Vito and Clare Danes and directed by Francis Ford Copolla) came down to a choice between Edward Norton and Matt Damon. The role went to Damon, but it was only fair since EN beat out Damon for the role of Aaron Stampler in Primal Fear. The two would later team up in Rounders. De Vito later directed EN in Death to Smoochy
RKO 281- This movie about the battle between actor/filmmaker Orson Welles and newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst over the making of "Citizen Kane" was originally going to be a big-budget feature film with an impressive cast: Edward Norton as Welles, Marlon Brando as Hearst, Madonna as Marion Davies (Hearst's mistress), Dustin Hoffman as screenwriter Mankiewicz, Meryl Streep as Louella Parsons (Hearst gossip columnist) with Ridley Scott directing (Variety, 4/7/97). Disney had first look and passed on the project. There was difficulty trying to get finacing for the picture, Brando dropped out, and Ridley Scott dropped out as director. They were then trying to get Gene Hackman for Hearst and Al Pacino for Mankiewitcz (Variety, 5/6/97). Nothing much was mentioned after that. It was eventaully scaled down into a HBO movie starring Lieb Schreiber, James Cromwell, John Malkovich, Melanie Griffith, and Brenda Blethyn.
Runaway Jury- Variety (5/6/97) announced that Edward Norton was in talks to take on the lead role of juror Nicholas Easter in this John Grisham adaptation with Joel Schumacher directing. Days later, Sean Connery and Gwyneth Paltrow were reported to be in talks to join the project for the roles of Fitch and Marlee, respectively (Variety 5/16/97). Two months later, Connery and Schumacher left the project (Variety 7/23/97). But Norton was still signed to star and it was supposed to start filming in fall 1997 (it didn't). Don't feel too bad for EN, he had signed a pay-or-play deal and when the project didn't work out, they paid him off. Still, it would have been a great role for him. A reworking of The Runaway Jury was planned which would have the trial dealing with the gun lobby rather than tobacco companies, but since EN had been paid off, he wouldn't be involved in this version (Variety 9/2/99). John Cusack is set to star in "The Runaway Jury," with Naomi Watts possibly taking on the female role Cusack selects "Jury" duty.
Saint Ex- EN would have portrayed Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the famous writer ("The Little Prince") and WWII aviator in
Saint-Ex, a film directed by Régis Wargnier (East-West Indochina) based on the book Saint Exupéry: A Biography
by Stacy Schiff.
Saving Private Ryan- Edward Norton turned down the role of "Private Ryan" in Steven Spielberg's war
drama (a role that went to his Rounders co-star Matt Damon. This has been
mentioned in passing a few times in articles on EN. There has been another mention (one that I can't verify)
that not only was he offered that part of Private Ryan, but he was also offered the role of Private Reiben,
who is played in the film by Edward Burns.
The Thin Red Line- The lead roles in this adaptation of James Jones' novel on Guadalcanal was highly sought by just about every well-known male actor, since this was the first film to be directed by Terrance Malick since Days of Heaven . In an article covering the casting of the film, it was mentioned that EN was the first actor to fly down to Austin, TX to meet with Malick (EW //) about the project. In an Oct 2000 Total Film interview, EN talked about the film:
I had been planning to do The Thin Red Line with Terry Malick, playing one of the main parts. Ultimately Jim Caviezel played it. I had been looking forward to that, then... [sighs] I had some deaths in the family. Sometimes things like that happen. I'd have loved to have been in that film, and I thought it was beautiful the way it turned out. But, you know, sometimes life comes around and... So much for your plans!...
If you have new information on Edward Norton (and you can provide a verifiable and reputable source), please email me- Susan
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