Edward Norton’s latest project is one that’s been a long time coming. The Golden Globe-winning actor and filmmaker wrote, directed and stars in the new movie “Motherless Brooklyn,” which is based on the 1999 novel of the same name.
“Sometimes you get a special feeling for a thing — and in this case, the character that I play — when I read [the novel], the character just cut right through me,” Edward says. “It came out 20 years ago, I read it, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I really was quite fixated on this character.”
Edward and his “Motherless Brooklyn” co-star, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, sat down with Rachael to chat about the inspiration behind the film, the relationship between their respective characters and the importance of the movie being set in New York City.
“I was very aware of Gugu’s work, I would like to say ahead of other people even,” Edward says, “but I had to write a part to get her in the film. Her character is sort of the figure of mystery in the beginning.”
And while she says she’s been a fan of Edward’s work for a long time, too, Gugu was also drawn in by the story.
“For me, it was all in the script. There was so much there,” she says. “And then I did a bit of research into Harlem — I had never been to Harlem at that point — and the music, the jazz in this film is so rich, so it was amazing to research.”
Gugu says the character she plays has more in common with Edward’s character, Lionel Essrog, than first meets the eye.
“She’s complex. She’s a trained lawyer, she is underestimated, has to deal with racism on a daily basis in the ’50s,” Gugu says. “Like Lionel, Edward’s character, who has to deal with people not really understanding his Tourette Syndrome. So they kind of bond on that.”
As for the rest of the cast? “I called on my deep web of New York theater actors: Bobby Cannavale, Bruce Willis, Cherry Jones and Willem Dafoe,” Edward says about the star-studded cast. Alec Baldwin, Michael K. Williams and Leslie Mann also star in the movie.