Edward Norton's power animal? “It’s pretty hard to top the penguin.”
His historical figure? “I’d be happy to go 12 rounds with any member of Bush’s cabinet.”
He’s recounting the grade school story and laughing hard. “They begged him to put the other one back and he wouldn’t!” There’s no doubt, Norton knows how significant Fight Club is.
But for all his intellectual edge and perception – his demolition of the critics; name-checks from Nietzsche to Goya; spot-on analysis of how the film nailed the zeitgeist – the overwhelming sense from him is that Fight Club was, well, fun.
“We were looking at each other going, ‘We can’t believe a studio is going to give us this much money to make this movie. They’re giving us $70 million to make a movie that they are going to fucking hate!’” he laughs.
“From the beginning, when we got the book, we all had the same response, sort of half-laugh, half jaw-dropping that someone was saying those things."
"We felt that this is for us and our crowd. Not in an inside-joke sense, but very much this is about our times as we have experienced them.
We definitely had the feeling that if a lot of people didn’t understand it, then we’d probably done it right. "
"Now and then I’ll give a script that I’m working on to my dad. He’s a very smart, very broad-minded guy. He loved The Graduate, and he gave me this look like,
‘Why the hell would you want to do this?’ In a way it was liberating because it confirmed that feeling that this was a generational statement to me.”
And what is that statement? “In part, Fight Club turns on the Baby Boomer generation and says, ‘Fuck you for the world you made.’
Of course it’s irritating, at the least, to some people.” Little wonder Fight Club riled so many viewers, then – as Pitt acknowledges, “It attacks a way of life, it attacks the status quo that men have given 40 years to. They can’t roll over now.”
Next: The Matrix & Nirvana