Ed Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Spike Lee on the set of 25th Hour
What else could happen when two of New York’s most prodigious talents, ED NORTON and SPIKE LEE, collaborate? Naturally, they’ve produced the city’s first real post-9/11 movie. Words: Mark Robertson
d Norton looks rough. Last night was the B.»\l"l‘.»\s and
l-i'itlu. the lilrn starring his partner Salrna llay ck. was
up fora clutch of awards. By Norton‘s own admission.
the chatnpagne was flowing. He may not hate that regtrlar
sparkle in his eyes. btrt he still manages to be effusiye.
eloquent and thoughtftrl abottt life. Hollywood and 251/1 llum‘. the moxie he has just made with director Spike Lee.
Norton is an little intense rrrarr. but his dark. piercing eyes
and fu/Iy brows often giye him the undescryed dcmeanottr of
sotneonc on the \ergc of either despair or rage. He is a genial interyiewee. frank and proud. btrt deadly serious abotrt his craft 7- a line creatiye foil for Lee.
When sharing his feelings on working with an ‘independent' moyiemaker such as Lee. Norton chuckles warmly. ‘l haye neyer been in an independent moyic in my life.‘ he says. ‘l’eople see me as coming out the leftficld. and it cotrld be said of Spike on occasion. btrt not mef
lidward Norton‘s journey to becoming one of the most celebrated actors in the Hollywood canon is no litrke. If one word best describes his acting style. it is ‘tmderstated'. lle ingrains eyery moment of screen time with an odd munilicence that is absolutely absorbing. His most famous
role may be as the narrator in l)a\’id lr‘incher's work of
absurdist genius. light (711/). bttt he has also earned two ()scar nominations. one for his role in I’rr'mu/ Fear and the other for his intense. measured iwrformance as Derek Vinyard. the neo- Na/i who reneges on his beliefs in 'l'ony' Kaye's flaw ed masterpiece. .‘llllt'l‘ft'tlll History X.
This is perhaps why he works so well with renowned maximalist Lee. a man who despite his age (he's 4o. btrt could pass for IS years younger) retains an absolutely breathless sense of pace and aural oyerload in his moy ies.
it is wholly fitting that such an estranagant director should capttrre New York. that most e\tra\agant of cities. in a truly post-WI I state of mind. Lee has always asked questions of his
subject matter although sortie would argtre he didn't ask
qtrite enottgh in his biopic of Malcolm X » bttt for 351/: Ilnur
he is adamant he neyer set out to make a self—conscioust post-U/l | lilrn. ‘thther we were the first or the hundredth to do this. it wouldn't haye changed our feeling abotrt including this different world now where terrorism is a regular occurrencef says Lee. 'We wanted to reflect this different world in the lilm.‘
'l‘his different world is the domain of cottyicted heroin dealer Montgomery Brogan. who has one day until he goes to prison for seycn years. Monty Visits his father (Brian (‘oxl and spends the exciting with his girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario l)aw son) and two best friends. expertly drawn by Barry Pepper and Philip Seymour Hoffman. There is also the unanswered question of exactly who shopped him to the police. Naturelle'.’ Or someone else‘.’ But there is moral ambiguity here. Monty is a likeable guy btrt a drtrg dealer nonetheless. searching in yain for answers: how will he slll'\'l\c in prison and. most significantly. why him'.’
One of the piyotal moments in the film is an amalgam of the restless sentiments generated by the eyents of ll September. the current war in Iraq and personal politics. Monty delivers a frustrated monologue to a mirror. systematically berating the entire population of New York. race by race. class by class.
subculture by subculture. 'lle yents his anger at the fact of
many other people getting away with many other things. so why is he going down for this'.’~ says Norton. adding the corrcltrsion: "‘No. it was you. Monty Brogan.“
'l’he explosiye and decisiye scene almost never made it into the film as [)ayid Benioff. the author who adapted his own book. left it otrt of the original draft. 'l)ayid didn't put that in his screenplay.‘ says Norton. 'lle thotrght it was too interior a moment. btrt Spike and I had both circled it in the book. In addition to being one of the few times you get a glimpse into any of the emotion that the character is feeling. it was
‘WE WANTED TO REFLECT THIS DIFFERENT WORLD IN THE FILM'
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