Ed Norton

An Oscar nominee after his debut performance in the 1996 thriller 'Primal Fear', Edward Norton has consistently received rave reviews.

Considered by the film industry to be one of the best new actors of the 1990s, he has been likened to a young De Niro or Hoffman.

Norton was born in 1969 to parents Edward, a lawyer, and Robin, a former foundation executive and teacher who passed away of brain cancer in 1997. He also has two younger siblings named James and Molly.

Norton was always interested in acting. As a precocious child of eight, he demanded of his tutor what his objective in the scene was.

A bright student while at Yale reading history, Norton took as many theatre and Japanese courses as possible. After graduation, he went to Japan and worked for his grandfather's company, Enterprise Foundation, providing housing to the poor.

Back in New York, Norton fought for two years to find acting work, until he attracted the attention of Edward Albee, the celebrated playwright. Norton's first role was in the production 'Fragments'.

At the same time, the director of 'Primal Fear' Gregory Hoblit needed a young actor to play opposite Richard Gere. Norton won the role over 2,000 other applicants and, before the film was even released, he was at the centre of a Hollywood frenzy from which he has yet to fall.

He won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as an altar-boy accused of murdering a Catholic archbishop.

In 1998, Norton gained 30 pounds of muscle and transformed his look into that of a monstrous skinhead for his role as a violent white supremacist in 'American History X' (1998). This performance would earn him his second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor.

In 1999 came the critically acclaimed 'Fight Club' (1999), which would go on to be heralded as a defining film for what was loosely termed 'Generation X'. In its efforts at using violence as a metaphor for the disenfranchisement of young people from the wider values of their society, it was likened to such classics as 'Rebel without a Cause' (1967) and 'The Graduate' (1967).

That film would also mark the beginning of a purple patch for Norton. In 2000, he made his directorial debut with 'Keeping the Faith' before giving two of his most noteworthy performances in Spike Lee's 2002 drama '25th Hour' and the Bret Ratner-directed 'Red Dragon' (2002), in which he shared the screen with Anthony Hopkins and Ralph Fiennes.

He also increasingly took on duties away from the camera, providing uncredited script work for the 2001 crime thriller 'The Score' and 2008's superhero reboot 'The Incredible Hulk'. Now a certifiable A-lister, Norton also took leading roles in these films, as well as in 'The Illusionist' (2006), in which he played the magician Eisenheim, and 'The Painted Veil' (2006), which saw him take the role of a British medical doctor fighting cholera in a Chinese village. Later roles include 'Moonrise Kingdom' (2012), 'The Bourne Legacy' (2012) and 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' (2013).

Away from the screen, Norton donated $1.1 million in 2004 to the Enterprise Foundation - the largest non-profit developer of low-income housing in America. In 2010, he was designed as the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity.