5 Minutes With: Edward Norton
Film3Sixty talks to Edward Norton about his involvement in The Bourne Legacy, the fourth film in the franchise. It’s the first instalment without Jason Bourne himself and features Norton as Ret. Col. Ric Byer, a ruthless higher-up in the secret military programmes that are developing enhanced agents like Bourne and new character Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner).
Edward Norton: The chance to work with Tony Gilroy. He’s a really incisive filmmaker, a very meticulous and specific director. I think the theme that Tony keeps exploring over and over again in his films is the way that corporations have become this vampiric force in our lives. Whether it’s Michael Clayton or Duplicity or the Bourne films, Tony has got this thread that he’s pulling through these films about people being co-opted – even government – by corporate forces. And he’s very interested in the psychology of how people rationalise that to themselves.
Do you think the franchise is capable of surviving without Matt Damon?
EN: I hope so. Otherwise why do we do it? It’s very connected. I would call it like chapters of a grand novel that’s unfolding and I think Tony feels ultimately will all loop back together. But that’s up to him.
We’ve just seen you as a Scout master in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, but prior to that it feels like you’ve worked a little less. Is that deliberate?
EN: Well, I was writing an HBO mini-series [Undaunted Courage] so I didn’t do a film in 2010. But it’s better to have people miss you than for them to have seen too much of you. I don’t think it’s unhealthy. It’s easier to show up in a Boy Scout uniform and have people go with it if they weren’t looking at you five minutes ago in some other movie.
Talking of boy scouting, was that your childhood?
EN: I was not a boy scout. If you ever saw The Wire, that’s where I grew up – in Baltimore. It’s was more like ducking cops doing cocaine busts in our school than going boy scouting. And I was kind of a loner. Later, when I went to university, I had a better time socially. But I was pretty wrapped up in fantasy – music, movies, comic books and all that stuff. I definitely had a fertile imagination.
You’re also very supportive of eco-issues. What got you into that?
EN: It’s one of the issues that I feel I have some grounding in, just because of my own personal interests in travelling, scuba diving and being outdoors. I think it’s one of the challenges of the 21st Century that’s very common to people everywhere. It’s a very binding, common challenge, so I think that’s compelling.
Words: James Mottram
The Bourne Legacy is in UK cinemas 17 August (previews 13-16)