edward norton matt damon saving private ryan

Edward Norton passed on starring in Saving Private Ryan for American History X

Imagine eight soldiers risking their lives for a whole movie just to go find Edward Norton.

Saving Private Ryan is considered to be one of the greatest feature films of the 1990s. Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, the film won five awards at the 71st Academy Awards. However, Damon was not the frontrunner to play the titular soldier. Edward Norton was originally considered for the role of Private Ryan. The actor, however, had to pass up the opportunity as the film’s schedule would have conflicted with American History X, in which Norton played a neo-Nazi.

At the 71st Academy Awards, Tom Hanks and Edward Norton were in competition in the Best Actor category but were both ultimately beaten by Roberto Benigni, who won for his lead role in Life Is Beautiful.

Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon in Saving Private Ryan because he wanted “an unknown actor with an all-American look.” Things did not work out quite as planned. Matt Damon’s Good Will Hunting was released shortly beforehand and made him an overnight success.

As of 2021, Edward Norton has yet to be directed by Spielberg or star in a film with Tom Hanks. Norton and Hanks were set to co-produce a HBO miniseries together but no updates have been made since its announcement in 2015.

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