In an interview with The Huffington Post, Norton talks about departing from his typical roles and what it was like working with Wes Anderson.
Norton’s role as Scout Master Ward in Moonrise Kingdom is a whimsical departure for the actor, who has had a tendency to play characters with duality, such as in Fight Club, The Illusionist or American History X, and even The Incredible Hulk. But Norton doesn’t view duality as a story element, explaining, “Duality is not a story. Duality is just a complexity. I tend to relate to a character in terms of the arc: what’s interesting is where he starts versus where he ends up. The fun of it is getting from point A to point B.”
He feels honored to be among Anderson’s casts, which he likens to Orson Welles‘ acting company. In particular, he praises Anderson’s “power of articulation to get the actor to tune in to his frequency. He’s good with the ‘verb.’ The main thrill is to be in his little equivalent of the Mercury Theater players.”
Norton is eager to praise Anderson and recognizes that Anderson is a very visual director, yet he also points out the importance of achieving about tone, saying, “the main puzzle of acting is intention. The essence is finding interesting ways to express someone’s intent. The emotional life is what the actor brings out. The bigger challenge for the actor in Wes’s films is to strike the balance between whimsy and melancholy.”
I’ve seen it and Norton indeed strikes the right tone. In fact, it’s one of the most successful departures in his whole career.
Moonrise Kingdom opens in select U.S. theaters on May 25.