Edward Norton: Empower Others…In Just 15 Minutes

The actor talks about his new social networking website Crowdrise and being inspired by those who give back and make a difference.

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The social networking stuff is fascinating and very compelling. We got around talking about why people are doing Facebook and Twitter. They're sharing their personal narrative, but there's not a lot of action taken out of it. What if you could just extend that in a complementary way—not even in a competitive way--saying to people, "Take pride in what you do, raise a flag, declare what you care about, and share that with people" and make it super easy for them to back you and back your efforts.

We looked at what was out there in that space. It was very dry, very utilitarian. And so we thought this is missing the point. People want this to be fun, something they take pride in, not just "click here and donate to my run" kind of thing.

I was reading an Interview Magazine article on you where you discuss your film "Fight Club," and you were quoted as saying: "I think there's a serious corruption in the idea sold through advertising that you can attain spiritual peace through lifestyle, and the notion of building your happiness from the outside in by acquiring things…This is where I completely agree with Tyler Durden—it's a recipe for spiritual disaster." I'm wondering, do you see volunteering and giving as a path to spiritual peace and happiness?

Everybody's going to have their own words for those experiences and that class. I don't ever want to make up blanket statements about how it works for everybody. But definitely, in my life, I feel like I've observed over and over again that people seem to get a much deeper sense of fulfillment out of the sensation that they've done something as an act of service or that the things they do for others actually give them a deeper fulfillment than the things they do for themselves.

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As you grow up or evolve and you get a larger sense of your own spiritual life, you definitely look for things that are bigger than you or give you a sense of being connected to the whole of people. If you're lucky and you have the sort of privilege of enough stability in your own life to not have to just struggle for survival, which many people do, then you start to connect with that more.

What inspires you, professionally as an actor and personally as an activist?

They're two slightly different things. I think the only thing I would say that connects them is that I like things that engage me in what I feel like is going on at the moment that we're living in. So not everything I work on creatively will fulfill that in the sense that some things you do for a different reason. But I definitely find myself drawn toward pieces of work that I feel like reflect the times we're living in and the challenges of them.

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