Interview Ed Norton

With the new Hulk movie out on DVD this weekend, Ed Norton talks about being a comic book kid, going green and what makes him angry…

Edward Norton has always been interested in all things green, and his latest movie ‘The Incredible Hulk’ out on DVD this weekend is no exception.

Edward admits that at 38 he is still a big fan of comic books, so taking on the role of the angry giant was a dream come true for him – as well as one of the hardest acting jobs he has ever encountered. When he’s not doing his day job, Norton has his regular Green work cut out. The environmental crusader is hot on educating Hollywood – and the rest of the world – about global warming and pollution. And he has vowed he will not stop until the planet is a greener, cleaner place.

Here he talks about being a comic book kid, how easy it is to be green and what makes him angry . .


 Q: What made you want to take on the role of Bruce Banner?

A: “I was a Marvel kid. I had subscriptions to a lot of the Marvel comics and I remember when they used to come in the plastic wrapper with a little piece of Scotch tape on them. So I loved Hulk. I still do. And I still love comics. But I loved the early incarnation of Hulk and then the television show when I was a kid too. I loved it all. I thought the writing and the graphics were all very contemporary and I always felt it was like one of those great contemporary myths. It comes right out of the tradition of Greek mythology. The notion of the suppression of your inner demon – it was all really appealing to me. The Hulk, as a story, has limitless potential. A lot of people were giving me funny looks when I said I was interested in doing it – but it has been a really amazing opportunity to get my hands on a classic and take it seriously.”


 Q: What challenges did you come across playing someone with a dual personality?

A: “I have played a lot of tough characters in other films but making an effects-driven movie is a different thing for me. One of the things that sold me on it early on was that I would get to play both halves of Hulk’s character. That was when I decided I really had something I could bring to this role.”


Q: How does it feel to be playing the Hulk?

A: “It’s kind of an honour, kind of hilarious and exciting all at the same time. You make a choice to do something like that and you realise you are going to have to run it by your friends eventually. I was nervous about doing that because I did not know what they would say or if they would just laugh but I was really surprised about some of their reactions. I was shocked at how excited people were. I have one friend who is a really soft-spoken environmental lawyer. She is very cerebral, very intense and when I told her she almost started crying because she was so excited. She was like ‘Oh my God! That was my favourite superhero when I was a kid!’ So you think it is a lark in the beginning but then you start realising there is like a responsibility with it. People are really invested in this character, in this story and in the spirit of it. It goes from being a whim to something that you have got to start making sure you take it seriously and bring all the stuff you bring to any other film into it.”


 Q: Have you based your character more on the comic book origins or the TV show origins?

A: “The fun in this was not to remake anything but to put our own spin on it really.”



Q: Is it true you wrote the screenplay for the movie too?

A: “Yeah, I came in to this and wrote the screenplay.”


 Q: You have worked with a vast range of talented actors and actresses in Hollywood including Brad Pitt and Naomi Watts. Are there any you have not had the chance to work with yet that you would love to?

A: “Liv Tyler was the last one. I am done!”


 Q: Do you get to say the classic Hulk quote ‘Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!’?

A: “I couldn’t give something like that away!”



Q: What kinds of things make you angry?

A: “I don’t personally have a lot of rage. I can’t deconstruct it. I’ve always been able to channel it very effectively. Ignorance about the environment makes me cross.”


 Q: You were once quoted as saying you wanted The Incredible Hulk to be the greenest movie ever – was it?

A: “We all tried really hard to make it as eco-friendly as possible. Hollywood as a whole needs to look at the physical way a film is made and the footprint that that makes. There is a lot of waste in the way we make films. I think the studios and the people that work in them are starting to do their part. Not just because it is the right thing to do but because it is cost effective too.”


 Q: Are you still very active environmentally?

A: “Yes I certainly am. It is something I feel very passionate about. It is a global issue that we can all do something about now. I feel very strongly about that.”


 Q: Your dad was very active on environmental issues – did you get your eco-awareness from him?

A: “Yeah, very much so. I sometimes say it was the family business. Some people are grocers, some families are builders – our family are environmental activists. My dad was the head of public policy at The Wilderness Society for many years and then he founded the Grand Canyon Trust; he founded the Nature Conservancy’s China program and ran that too for many years. I grew up so immersed in it. In a lot of ways I was lucky that an issue people have been coming to realise about on a broader level in the last five or ten years my dad was way ahead of the crowd, so I was too.”


 Q: Are you noticing that there is a change in attitude towards these green issues. When you are out campaigning and raising awareness do you see people get excited about the fact that in small ways they can make a difference?

A: “Absolutely. This is something that is becoming a very broad issue and is now in social consciousness. It’s reaching everyone and has become an international issue.”


 Q: In your opinion what do you think we can do about saving the environment?

A: “Using reusable bags and forgetting about plastic bags is a simple small thing that everybody can do. It is a start.”


 Q: What is the weirdest thing a fan has done to get close to you?

A: “A guy once tried to send a script to us while we were making Fight Club and he sent it in a landmine. So they made everybody go back a distance, they called the bomb squad in and they opened this landmine and there was a script in it saying ‘Please pass this on to Edward Norton and the guys. I never got to see the script because they took it as evidence.”


Q: There seem to be a lot of egos in Hollywood – but you don’t have one. What keeps you so grounded?

A: “It’s your own choice what you choose to engage in. The working part of making movies, I enjoy it – even when it’s frustrating. It’s collaborative. Everyone has their own ideas, instincts and egos, and sometimes you’ll run into some really silly egotistical behaviour – people who say, ‘I need my M&M’s cold or I won’t come out of my trailer,’ but it is rare. A puffed-up attitude really stands out. You can talk to crews who have a story about someone, but the reason it’s a story is because it’s an anomaly. When people run into it, they’re flabbergasted. I, thankfully, do not think I am one of those people.”

 Words : Margaret Ryan


‘The Incredible Hulk’ is out on DVD in Ireland from October 10th