Edward Norton on Motherless Brooklyn

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I think, had I made this film a long time ago, I might have had more of a commitment to the cynicism of the genre. Part of the benefit of me having a little more time with it, and the times we’re living in shifting and changing around us in certain ways, is that it gave me a real pause about the idea of being dark for darkness’ sake, you know? I didn’t want to communicate apathy or cynicism – I wanted to communicate that, when people encounter power and the dark things that power is doing, there’s a need to be heroic and act against it.

Not long after I finished this interview, I was suddenly struck by not only how extremely, extremely cool the things I get to do are, but also how intensely lucky I am to be able to do them. (I mean, there’s also a bit of hard work involved too, I suppose.) That was a really great feeling, just sitting and thinking about that for a moment.

Hope you all enjoy this, anyway – it was great to talk to Edward Norton about Motherless Brooklyn. It is, obviously, quite the passion project for him, a huge labour of love, so he was really engaged talking about it – which is always nice, as an interviewer!

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw on Motherless Brooklyn

gugu mbatha-raw motherless brooklyn interview film noir femme fatale edward norton director

I always think you can’t really play a genre. You have to be grounded and real, and then the world – hopefully – is built around you. One of the things that I loved about Laura is exactly that: she’s not your classic femme fatale, she’s not a 50s housewife. She’s a layered, multifaceted human being, and you know we don’t often see that very often in female characters – and certainly female characters of colour in the 50s – so I just tried to bring as many emotional nuances to her as possible.

This is very exciting! Another in-person interview, and – crucially – my own on-screen debut! (Well, sort of, the Edward Norton interview was actually filmed first.)

I have no idea how the video is – I now suddenly understand why some actors never watch their own films, even the idea of watching this back feels too awkward – but I do remember Gugu being very lovely to talk to. (And myself getting a bit tongue-tied!)

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