Edward Norton's motion picture debut back in 1996 is his best performance to date. The movie is called Primal Fear, and, in my opinion, it is not only one of the most underrated films of the past twenty years, but it is also one of the best courtroom dramas I've ever seen. That is, in large part, due to Norton's performance, but it is still a great film nonetheless.
In the movie, Norton plays a teenage altar boy who is accused of murdering the archbishop. That is all the plot details I'm going to give because to say too much about the storyline would be a crime. Just see the film.
The character that Norton creates is easily one of the most memorable characters in courtroom drama history. And what's even more remarkable about all of this is that it's a supporting performance. Sure, he's on screen a lot, but Richard Gere is the lead actor here. Gere is very good in the film, but Norton is in another league. For a supporting performance to have this much impact is truly special.
It's a shame that I couldn't watch this performance back in 1996 because I would've loved to watch it as his debut. I knew how good of an actor he was before I watched Primal Fear for this first time, but this is still the performance of his that has had the most impact on me. Anyone who sees the film will have to agree. For an actor to pull off a role with such boldness and confidence in his debut is something rarely seen in the movies.
Edward Norton did receive an Oscar nomination for this role, his second to date, the other one being in American History X. However, Norton lost out on an Oscar to Cuba Gooding Jr. I am still steaming on this one. Jerry Maguire is a perfectly fine film, and
With all that being said, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of mainstream moviegoers out there haven't even heard of Primal Fear. I stand by the fact that it is one of the most underrated films I've ever seen, and, as a result, hasn't had much staying power since its release. I also wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of Norton fans out there haven’t seen this film. For all those Norton fans who have only seen movies such as Fight Club, The Incredible Hulk, and some of his other more recent work, please give Primal Fear a watch. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll be blown away.