Primal Fear is a 1996 legal mystery thriller film that will leave every viewer on the edge of their seats. Despite being actor Edward Norton’s film debut, he gave a memorable performance that earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Today, it is hard to imagine someone else playing the role of Aaron Stampler / Roy in the film because of Norton’s performance, however, the actor only got the opportunity because another major Hollywood star rejected the role back then. Leonardo DiCaprio was initially selected for the role, however, because of the 1993 movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape‘s challenging shooting schedule, he needed a break, so he turned it down.
Leonardo DiCaprio was selected for the role of Aaron Stampler / Roy in Primal Fear (1996)
Before actor Edward Norton, Leonardo DiCaprio was approached for the role of Aaron Stampler / Roy in director Gregory Hoblit’s 1996 movie Primal Fear. However, DiCaprio turned it down simply because he wanted a break because he was exhausted from the demanding shooting of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993).
It’s not like Norton instantly got the part, roughly 2100 actors auditioned for the role and Norton managed to stand out. Actors like Pedro Pascal, Danny Masterson, and Matt Damon auditioned for the role, but Norton managed to beat everyone.
The film launched Norton’s career, making him a well-known name in the entertainment industry. He went on to star in many other films but it was his work as the narrator in 1999’s Fight Club that made him a worldwide sensation. Since then, the actor has consistently proven his versatility as an actor in many blockbuster films.
Also read: “It was all the worst kind of corporate decision-making”: Not The Incredible Hulk, Edward Norton Regrets $218M Liam Neeson Movie for a Heartbreaking Reason
Edward Norton saved Leonardo DiCaprio’s life
During his appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2019, Norton recalled the time he and Leonardo DiCaprio were on an expedition together in the Galapagos Islands, and DiCaprio went to explore further in the ocean with less oxygen in his tank. Norton revealed,
“It has been pumped up a bit more than it deserves. We were in the Galapagos Islands. We were scuba diving with Sylvia Earle, the great oceanographer. I’ve known Leo a long time and he loses his mind around animals. He really has a childlike passion for them. This flight of 100 spotted eagle rays went by below us and I saw the look on his face. I saw him charging off with this camera that he had and I have been diving since I was 16 years old. I reflectively looked at my watch and was like: ‘We’re very close to the end.’ I saw him going off and down and I knew that wasn’t a good thing so I followed him because I thought to myself, he’s chasing these things, he’s going to run out of air – and he did.”
Norton then went after him because he was sure Leonardo DiCaprio would run out of oxygen, which he eventually did. So Norton shared his oxygen with his fellow actor using a process known as buddy breathing.
Related: “It would have spoiled it”: Like Matt Damon, Edward Norton Chose to Remain Uncredited for His Role in a Movie He Has Never Watched”
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