Remember when we first got word that Edward Norton would not be reprising his role as The Hulk in The Avengers? It wasn’t pretty. When the news dropped, it was being reported that Norton wanted in, but Marvel wanted someone with a lower price tag. However, when Marvel reps chimed in, they claimed that they passed on Norton because they needed someone who “embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members,” essentially accusing Norton of not being a team player. Shortly after, Norton’s agent fired back claiming that Marvel’s statement was a “purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light.” Soon thereafter, Norton took the more righteous route by posting a sincere thank you to Marvel and to the fans who supported his run as Bruce Banner.
Four years later, Norton’s got an outstanding new feature on his resume that could score him an Oscar nomination, but The Hulk talk still rages on. Hit the jump to find out what Norton had to say about ditching the role.
“My feeling was that I experimented and experienced what I wanted to. I really, really enjoyed it. And yet, I looked at the balance of time in life that one spends not only making those sorts of films but then especially putting them out, and the obligations that rightly come with that. There were just a lot of things—I wanted more diversity. I sort of chose to continue on my path of having a diversity of experiences. Maybe on some unconscious level, I didn’t want to have an association with one thing in any way degrade my effectiveness as an actor, in characters. I think you can sort of do anything once, but if you do it too many times, it can become a suit that’s hard to take off, in other peoples’ eyes. And if I had continued on with it, I wouldn’t have made Moonrise Kingdom, or Grand Budapest, or Birdman, because those all overlapped with [Avengers]. And those were more the priority for me, but I continue to be a fan and I’m really, really happy I got to do it once.”
I can’t imagine a Moonrise Kingdom or Birdman without Norton, so perhaps it’s for the best that he didn’t continue on as The Hulk. However, as EW points out, Mark Ruffalo had no trouble doing the two Avengers movies and still making indie features like Foxcatcher, Infinitely Polar Bear and more.
The whole he said, she said game is especially frustrating and will almost never result in a clear-cut conclusion, but we do have two top-notch actors delivering high quality work, so no matter the real reason, everyone wound up a winner.