Edward Norton has played a master illusionist, a fight-club fanatic and a children’s TV star, but never anyone quite like the title character in “Stone.”
Decked out in cornrows, alternately manipulative and tortured, he’s a convict up for parole who spurs a moral crisis in the officer (Robert De Niro) considering his case.
amNewYork spoke with the 41-year-old Academy Award nominee about the film, which opens Friday.
Did the ambiguity of the character appeal to you?
One of the things I admire about John Curran as a filmmaker is he’s comfortable in the gray areas … if you look at all of his films, they’ve consistently been about the relative nature of morality.
How do you interpret the metaphor of a stone expressed in the film?
[My] character is the same name as the title, but I often thought that there’s an idea expressed within the film that as you evolve, you move from being a stone, to being an animal, to being a human. There’s this metaphysical idea that you have to grow.
Are you worried that an offbeat movie such as “Stone” won’t get its due?
Films have a different kind of evolving life [today], through Netflix and DVDs. … Over time, through these other forms, ... it kind of gives me [hope].
As U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, how do you communicate its significance?
Sometimes, [for example, it’s] just illuminating for people that all the fruit we eat, half the food we eat requires things like bees, like pollinators. The industrial world can’t synthesize pollination, so if you lose bees you lose massive sectors of the American agricultural industry
Our favorite Edward Norton performances:
“Primal Fear” (1996) — Norton first earned widespread attention for playing an altar boy locked up for murdering a priest.
“American History X” (1998) — In a powerhouse performance, Norton plays a reformed neo-Nazi on a quest to save his brother.
“Fight Club” (1999) — It’s hard to convincingly beat yourself up, but Norton’s up to the challenge here.
“25th Hour” (2002) — Norton brought a compelling human edge to his starring role in Spike Lee’s affecting cinematic portrait of a man at a crossroads. (RL)