Edward Norton ‘Felt Odd’ About Making the Choice To Become an Actor — ‘I Wrestled With It Internally for a Long Time’

Edward Norton is known as one of the most talented and versatile actors in the movie business. With numerous Oscar nominations and industry awards to his name, it’s clear that Norton is in an elite class of actors. 

Despite his undeniable talent as an actor, Norton himself avoided committing to the profession for several years. It took a while for him to fully commit because lacked the confidence to make it his full-time job. 

Edward Norton didn’t study acting at Yale University

Ed Norton
Edward Norton attends the Talking Pictures screening of “Motherless Brooklyn” | Rich Fury/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Festival

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Norton got his education at Yale University, where he studied history. His choice of major may seem like a surprise, given his talent, but he didn’t feel it was necessary to get a degree in theater in order to be successful. 

“I had a different set of interests,” Norton said in a resurfaced 2015 SAG-AFTRA Foundation interview. “I don’t know, rightly or wrongly at the time, I had some sort of sense that the nature of the work … did not require an undergraduate theater degree for success.”

Edward Norton ‘felt odd’ about pursuing acting

Despite his clear passion for acting, Norton was hesitant to commit to the craft as a career. While in college, he decided to immerse himself in other things he was interested in, rather than study theater.

“I had real ambivalence about—it takes a minute, I think, unless you’re just one of those people who’s got the ambition,” Norton said. “I had a feeling, I was lucky I had different things that I was interested in doing and had the opportunities to do. … I had a certain ambivalence because … I felt odd about the choice. I felt odd about saying, ‘I’m an actor,’ and I’m gonna try and go and be that.”

Edward Norton wouldn’t commit to acting but kept passing on other opportunities

Norton lived in denial of his true interest for a long time, intentionally going out of his way to avoid acting as a career. However, he couldn’t bring himself to fully commit to other career opportunities either. 

“I wrestled with it internally for a long time, or I wouldn’t admit to myself that that’s what I was going to do,” Norton said. “And I did a lot of other things, I studied other things, I pursued other careers and stuff like that for a bit. But I found over time that I was reaching moments of opportunity with other endeavors entirely, and then I was kind of edging around them, or not diving in full stop.”

Although it took a bit more time to find clarity, Norton finally realized that he was avoiding other career opportunities because deep down, he wanted to act. A burgeoning theater company in New York City inspired him to commit to acting fully. 

“And then one particular thing came,” Norton said. “I had an opportunity that was a really substantial life opportunity, and I realized I was ducking around it because, in my mind, there was a set of people I was starting to do plays with in New York. And there was this new theater company forming up, and I was passing on other things for the possibility … And that’s when I had this moment of realization that I probably should prioritize the thing … and j