By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 13, 2010 at 3:22AM
So Marvel has dumped Edward Norton as The Hulk. Their reason: he's not a team player. (Norton had assumed, per statements by Jon Favreau, that he was out of Marvel's super-hero ensemble The Avengers, but Marvel's Ken Feige did make Norton a low-ball offer--and the actor was interested--but Feige then decided to go another way. UPDATE: Mark Ruffalo is now in the running.) Here's Norton's Facebook note to his fans.
We all know Norton is a gifted actor-writer-director who likes to engage on his projects, even in the editing room. He's not alone. Many actors prefer to be in control of their movies. But actors-for-hire are being paid to deliver for the filmmaker. Or, if it's a Marvel franchise, Marvel.
Here's my advice to Norton: learn from James Franco.
In a fascinating recent Q & A, Franco revealed that he is pursuing directing, art and various side projects because he figured out that he was making himself miserable as an actor trying to express himself when he really was supposed to be realizing someone else's vision.
Norton was great as Bruce Banner/The Hulk and might be playing the role again if he followed the same logic when he acts for hire. By the way, Norton's contributions to The Hulk were considerable. But clearly, Marvel weighed the pros and cons of bringing him onto The Avengers and decided it was easier to proceed without him. Did they need to bad-mouth him in the process? No.