Yesterday we learned the news that the powers that be in charge of casting the upcoming Joss Whedon film The Avengers decided to fire Edward Norton as The Hulk and have decided to recast the part with someone they feel would be more “collaborative” with the growing ensemble cast. The implication of the statement regarding Norton‘s firing has been construed by many as suggesting that he was let go because of his difficult work ethic. Today we hear from Norton‘s agent, Brian Swardstrom, who is firing back with a statement of his own denouncing the Marvel statement and offering Edward Norton‘s side of what went down … read on:
In what is turning out to be a dramatic parting of the ways, Edward Norton’s agent has issued a statement to HitFix after Marvel Studios confirmed the Academy Award nominee would not return as Bruce Banner in “The Avengers.” As HitFix broke exclusively on Friday, Marvel Studios is going in a new direction for the Hulk, replacing Norton who starred in 2008′s “The Incredible Hulk” … Marvel indicated their decision was not about salary, as sources had indicated to HitFix originally,, but “instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.” Brian Swardstrom of WME responds with the following:
“This offensive statement from Kevin Feige at Marvel is a purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light. Here are the facts: two months ago, Kevin called me and said he wanted Edward to reprise the role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers. He told me it would be his fantasy to bring Edward on stage with the rest of the cast at ComiCon and make it the event of the convention. When I said that Edward was definitely open to this idea, Kevin was very excited and we agreed that Edward should meet with Joss Whedon to discuss the project. Edward and Joss had a very good meeting (confirmed by Feige to me) at which Edward said he was enthusiastic at the prospect of being a part of the ensemble cast. Marvel subsequently made him a financial offer to be in the film and both sides started negotiating in good faith. This past Wednesday, after several weeks of civil, uncontentious discussions, but before we had come to terms on a deal, a representative from Marvel called to say they had decided to go in another direction with the part. This seemed to us to be a financial decision but, whatever the case, it is completely their prerogative, and we accepted their decision with no hard feelings. We know a lot of fans have voiced their public disappointment with this result, but this is no excuse for Feige’s mean spirited, accusatory comments. Counter to what Kevin implies here, Edward was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Joss and the other actors in the Avengers cast, many of whom are personal friends of his. Feige’s statement is unprofessional, disingenuous and clearly defamatory. Mr. Norton talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do Marvel’s fans. Brian Swardstrom WME”
There is no official statement from Edward Norton at this time, but he is expected to comment on the matter eventually.
And there you have it … and they said / he said situation is now brewing publicly over a simple matter of a gamma radiated green superhero and who is going to play him in The Avengers. Naturally, each side is going to argue their position in order to find favor in the public eye but none of it really matters when you get right down to it. Unless the opposing sides can agree to work together, Marvel will have the final say on who will play The Hulk. IMHO, I have to say it seems silly and not very smart of Marvel to be releasing disparaging statements about actors that they choose not to work with. Even if Edward Norton is the worst possible person to work with, airing the dirty laundry seems childish and wrong. But, again, it is Marvel’s prerogative to cast whoever they want in the role.
That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the opposing sides ended up coming to an agreement of some sort somewhere down the line. It may sound like Edward Norton will not play The Hulk in The Avengers but … then again, he just may. What do y’all think of all this public fighting? Do you think Norton and Marvel will hammer out their differences and work together in the end?