Edward Norton & Gugu Mbatha-Raw on ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ and Making Their 50s-Set Noir

     September 17, 2019

One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was Motherless Brooklyn. Written and directed by Edward Norton, the 50s-set crime noir is set in New York City and focuses on a private eye (Norton) who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When his boss (Bruce Willis) is murdered, Norton and the team he works with set out to discover why their boss was killed. Adapted from the novel by Jonathan Lethem, the incredible cast also includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Robert Ray Wisdom, Fisher Stevens, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.

Shortly before seeing the film, I got to talk with Edward Norton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the Collider studio at TIFF. They talked about being at the Toronto Film Festival, the challenges of filming in NYC, what drew Mbatha-Raw to the role, the importance of hiring the right people, why Norton wanted to both act and direct the film, what made him nervous when he got in the editing room, and a lot more.

Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about followed by the official synopsis. For more on Motherless Brooklyn, watch the trailer here.

nordstrom-supper-suite-tiff-2019We also need to send a big thank you to our presenting sponsor Nordstrom Canada and supporting partners Marriott Bonvoy and Ciroc Vodka for supporting the Collider Lounge at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and helping to make these interviews happen.

Edward Norton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw:

  • What does it mean to show the film at TIFF?
  • The Illusionist
  • The importance of hiring the right people on your crew.
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw talks about her character and what drew her to the role.
  • Norton on why he wanted to both act and direct the film.
  • When he got into the editing room, what was he excited about and what made him nervous?
  • How long was his first cut compared to the finished film?
  • motherless-brooklyn-edward-norton-gugu-mbatha-raw-interviewMemorable moments from filming.
  • The challenges of filming in NYC.

Here’s the official synopsis for Motherless Brooklyn:

Set against the backdrop of 1950s New York, “Motherless Brooklyn” follows Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a lonely private detective living with Tourette Syndrome, as he ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis).  Armed only with a few clues and the engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely-guarded secrets that hold the fate of the whole city in the balance.  In a mystery that carries him from gin-soaked jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York’s power brokers, Lionel contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city to honor his friend and save the woman who might be his own salvation.


Image via TIFF


Image via Warner Bros.

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