Over the past 30 years, Edward Norton has become a well-known and recognized actor and director in Hollywood. After his big break in “Primal Fear” in 1996, for which he was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe, he went on to star in “Flight Club” and “American History X,” both of which made him famous.
He has since played ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and made cameos in highly acclaimed ensemble cast films like ‘Birdman’, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ He has also made the pictures “Keeping the Faith” and “Motherless Brooklyn.”
Norton has used his fame to support anti-corruption and environmental causes when he is not on screen. On-screen, he has played both good and bad characters. Norton has said that he doesn’t want to become a star, even though his work in Hollywood has made him well-known. Even though he is famous, his past relationships with Salma Hayek, Courtney Love, and other well-known singers have kept him from living a quiet life.
But the star has decided to show the world a certain part of himself: his family background. Norton went on the PBS show “Finding Your Roots” in January 2023 and learned a lot about his family history. For example, he found out that he is related to Pocahontas, also known as Amonute, a Powhatan woman.
In Norton’s family tree, he found a labour leader from the late 1800s who backed unionization and a Civil War soldier who wrote letters to Abraham Lincoln. Read on to find out more about Edward Norton’s surprising family history.
During the ninth season premiere of PBS’s “Finding Your Roots,” Norton talked with host Henry Louis Gates Jr. about his family’s history, which goes back to Virginia in the early days of American colonialism. Gates Jr. confirmed an amazing fact that Norton had only vaguely heard about from family stories: Pocahontas, a Native American Powhatan woman who also went by the names Amonute and Matoaka, is Norton’s 12th great-grandmother.
Her story is kind of well-known because English colonists took her hostage and held her for ransom before she got married to John Rolfe. Her dad was the chief of the Powhatan tribe, which lived in the Tidewater area of Virginia. Her story has been turned into a love story and a movie, among other things, over the years.
When Norton said he was a descendant of Pocahontas, Gates Jr. told the shocked actor:
“I know that was a family story. It’s the whole truth.”
The host talked about the period in which all of this happened by saying, “John Rolfe and Pocahontas got married on April 5, 1614. To put everything in its proper place, Shakespeare dies in 1616.” “John Rolfe died around March 1622, and Pocahontas died in Grave’s End, England, around March 1617,” he said.
“How could you even figure that out?” Norton couldn’t believe that the family story was coming true. “Through the paper trail,” Gates Jr. said. Norton’s ancestors kept some of the papers. Norton was so impressed by how much detail there was that he said, “This is about as far back as you can go, unless you’re a Viking.” He was added:
“Helps you realize how small you are in the big picture.”
The 1850 North Carolina census showed that Norton’s third great-grandfather, John Winstead, owned slaves. This added to Norton’s “uncomfortable” family history. There was a woman who was 37, a guy who was 55, and five girls who were 10, 9, 8, 6, and 4 years old. When Norton found out that his grandfather had seven slaves, he said the following:
“The short answer is that these things are uncomfortable, and everyone else should feel uncomfortable with them as well.”
He was added:
“It’s a verdict on this country’s past, not on you or your life. It has to be accepted first, and then it has to be argued about.
Norton had a hard time with the idea that the girls were basically born into slavery. He said, “When you read slave age 8, you want to die.”
Norton said in another part of the show that his grandparents had written down the diaries of a 19th-century ancestor, so he knew a lot about his family history. Gates Jr. even said that Norton was ready to talk about his family’s past “better than any guest (he) can remember.”
“I’ve got to be honest, one of the things that amazes me is that they were making these kinds of records during such a rough time,” said the actor. In 1777, Norton’s other grandfather joined the Continental Army, which was led by George Washington.
At the show’s end, Gates Jr. said that Julia Roberts, who is also on the ninth season of “Finding Your Roots,” had a DNA code similar enough to Norton’s to show that they had a common ancestor from their families’ pasts.