Edward Norton

Edward NortonI tend to look at a part and wonder if 10 other young men can do it," Norton says. "I look for something I can bring a particular take to. But I don't like to talk about it."

This Yale University history major from Columbia, Maryland, doesn't have to. Talk about it, that is. He lets his acting do the talking for him. And it spoke volumes in his debut screen performance when he stole the movie Primal Fear out from under Richard Gere's nose. It wasn't a great movie; in fact, it wasn't even that good, but Edward Norton was stunning as the psychopathic killer who gets away with murder. He even got an Oscar nomination for his efforts. Suddenly Norton was a hot commodity in a town that knows from hot commodities.

But Norton doesn't want you to know more than he's willing to let you in on. "Every little thing that people know about you as a person impedes your ability to achieve that kind of terrific suspension of disbelief that happens when an audience goes with an actor and character he's playing. Anybody can ask me anything, but I firmly believe I have the right to answer or not."

What Norton has let the world know is that he's the eldest of three children born to a lawyer father and a teacher mother. He first began acting at the age of five and attended a school for theatrical arts in the Baltimore area. Following undergraduate studies at Yale, he worked at the Enterprise Foundation in Japan, an organization founded by his grandfather that develops low-income housing. After moving back to the States he did the auditioning rounds while working as a waiter before being cast in the world premiere production of Eward Albee's stage play, Fragments. It wasn't long after that when Hollywood came calling and Norton beat out thousands of other hopefuls for his breakout role in Primal Fear.