American History X is a 1998 American crime drama film directed by Tony Kaye. The movie revolves around the life of Derek Vinyard, played by Edward Norton, a former neo-Nazi who tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same path he did.
Norton’s performance in the film was widely praised, and he was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. However, Norton’s involvement in the film went beyond just acting – he also played a significant role in shaping the story and characters.
One of the most significant changes that Norton made to American History X was his decision to rewrite the ending. Originally, the movie was supposed to end with Derek being killed by a black gang member, which would have reinforced the idea that violence only begets more violence. However, Norton felt that this ending was too predictable and cliched, and instead proposed a more hopeful ending where Derek decides to abandon his racist beliefs and start anew.
Another major contribution that Norton made to American History X was his portrayal of Derek Vinyard. In order to prepare for the role, Norton spent months researching neo-Nazi groups and attending white supremacist rallies.
He even gained 30 pounds of muscle in order to convincingly play a former prison inmate. This dedication paid off – Norton’s performance as Derek is both chilling and captivating.
Norton also had input on other aspects of the film’s production, such as casting choices and cinematography. For example, he suggested that Stacy Keach be cast as Cameron Alexander, the leader of the neo-Nazi group that Derek belongs to. He also worked closely with director Tony Kaye on creating a distinctive visual style for the film that would emphasize its dark themes.
In conclusion, Edward Norton’s involvement in American History X went far beyond just acting – he played an instrumental role in shaping many aspects of the film’s production. From rewriting the ending to researching neo-Nazi groups for his role as Derek, Norton’s contributions helped make American History X a powerful and thought-provoking film that continues to resonate with audiences today.