Norton Opens Up About Hulk Departure

During a Fresh Air segment on NPR about the film Birdman, actor Edward Norton fielded a question about why he didn't return to the role of Bruce Banner following 2008's The Incredible Hulk:

I think that, you know, my feeling was that I experimented and experienced what I wanted to. I really, really enjoyed it. And yet I looked at the balance of time in life that one spends not only making those sorts of films, but then especially putting them out and obligations that rightly come with that. And there were just a lot of things that - I wanted more diversity - I sort of chose to continue on my path of having a diversity of experiences. Maybe on some unconscious level, I didn't want to have an association with one thing in any way degrade my effectiveness as an actor in characters. I think you can sort of do anything once, but if you do it too many times it can become a suit that's hard to take off in other people eyes. And if I had continued on with it, I wouldn't have made "Moonrise Kingdom" or "Grand Budapest" or "Birdman" because those all overlapped with - and those were more the priority for me. But I totally, you know, I continue to be a fan. And I'm really, really happy I got to do it once. That particular character I think has a really proud tradition actually of really good actors playing him. And I think I'm really happy to be part of it.

Norton's explanation seems to be the result of hindsight, given the very public feud between the actor and Marvel in 2010, when it came to light that he wouldn't be returning as the Hulk for The Avengers. A public statement by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was met with a response from Norton's agent, who called the comments "offensive" and "a purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light."

Birdman is now in theaters.

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