September 11, 2008 / 10:57 PM / in 11 years

Just a Minute With: Edward Norton on "Pride and Glory"

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Edward Norton is considered one of the best dramatic actors of his generation, nominated for two Oscars for “Primal Fear” and “American History X.”

Edward Norton speaks at a news conference for the film "Pride and Glory" during the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival September 9, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

This summer, he also proved he could hold his own in comic book flick, “The Incredible Hulk.”

In his upcoming film, cop drama “Pride and Glory,” he plays a New York City detective tracking the murderer of four fellow officers. But if he catches his man, Norton’s character will expose a police scandal that will cause trouble for his family and the entire New York City Police Department.

The movie presents an interesting set of moral dilemmas including questions of when family bonds supersede a person’s own sense of right and wrong.

Norton spoke to Reuters at the Toronto International Film festival about the movie.

Q: Police dramas are a staple of Hollywood movies, so how does “Pride and Glory” rise above being just another tale of good cops gone bad?

A: “I always ask: ‘When you get into a genre story, does it have certain ideas that rise above that genre?’ If through the world of cops, you can penetrate the specifics to see this is really about how families build a dream and a new generation comes and has to deconstruct that dream, then it doesn’t matter at all that it’s about cops, then it’s about families.

“On another level, as we made the film things started happening in the culture. We had torture scandals, and scandals of institutional lying. We found ourselves looking at each other and saying, ‘That’s exactly our dynamic.’ Someone, somewhere released those Abu Ghraib photos and quote, betrayed, unquote, the loyalty bonds of the Army. I think when a story starts to touch on the specifics of the day that, too, helps it get up above the specifics of cop drama.”

Q: There are three key brothers: the truth-telling cop, a second working in a gray area between good and bad, and the third who breaks the law but thinks he’s serving a higher purpose. Who do you think most people identify with?

A: “One sign of a mature story is that it’s designed to leave people with questions more than it’s designed to answer questions for people. I think the idea is to have people walk away thinking about all of these people and debating that question. The idea is for people to see the recognizable humanity in all these characters.”

Q: On some level, they all must question their sense of loyalty and whether it is to family or themselves. If you had to decide which came first, what would it be?

A: “The difficulty comes if those people with whom you have personal bonds don’t share your view, you know what I mean. But there’s a transformative power in speaking the truth. Speaking the truth can, in fact, liberate other people to rise up to the best in themselves, and that’s a beautiful idea, and one of the most moving parts of the film.”

Q: You’re known as a very hands-on actor in the sense that you often get involved in the process of filmmaking after choosing a role. Why is it important to do that, as opposed to just being an actor who’s hired to do a part?

A: “Well, I don’t always. In fact, to me, I’d rate this as one of my best experiences of just being an actor, and I loved it. When you don’t have those other things (producing or writing), you can work in a very deep way, and in a very concentrated way with the acting. Still, the work of an actor, per se, does not mean you’re just there to show up and read lines. You should stick a fork in it and probe it and test it.”

Editing by Patricia Reaney

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