‘Motherless Brooklyn’ Trailer: Edward Norton Directs & Stars in Crime-Drama with Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Alec Baldwin and More

Roadshow Films

Edward Norton directs, writes, producers and stars in upcoming period crime-drama Motherless Brooklyn, a film that just may mark a big return to the spotlight for the three-time Oscar nominee.

The first trailer has been released for the film, which has Norton playing a private detective living with Tourette Syndrome. When his mentor and only friend (Bruce Willis) is murdered, he takes a few clues and his obsessive mind on a journey to uncover a web of corruption that goes all the way to the city’s most dangerous man.

We weren’t really expecting to see a Warner Bros. picture with Norton in key roles on both sides of the camera; it’s a nice surprise. Norton has adapted Jonathan Lethem’s acclaimed 1999 novel, and it certainly looks like an interesting, highly layered story, with a big mystery, political corruption, a changing period of New York, and a protagonist with Tourettes as our in. It could work well, especially with a cast that also includes Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Willem Dafoe, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Bobby Cannavale.

Motherless Brooklyn will arrive in Australia on October 31 and opens in the US on November 1.

Here’s the official extended rundown for Motherless Brooklyn:

Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a lonely private detective living with Tourette Syndrome, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Armed only with a few clues and the engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of New York in the balance. In a mystery that carries him from gin-soaked jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York’s power brokers, Lionel contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city to honor his friend and save the woman who might be his own salvation.


Edward Norton directed, wrote, produced and stars in “Motherless Brooklyn.” The film’s journey to the screen began in 1999 when Norton saw the cinematic potential in Jonathan Lethem’s novel Motherless Brooklyn and its unforgettable central character. But from the beginning, Norton aimed to transpose Lethem’s contemporary characters into a different period and plot and give it a distinctive atmosphere by re-setting the drama in the 1950s—a time of great change in New York City.


The film’s stellar ensemble cast also includes Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Robert Ray Wisdom, Fisher Stevens, with Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.

Norton also produced the film with his Class 5 Films producing partner Bill Migliore; Michael Bederman; and MWM Studios’ Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane. Adrian Alperovich, Sue Kroll, Daniel Nadler, Robert F. Smith, and Brian Niranjan Sheth served as executive producers.


Behind the scenes, Norton collaborated with two-time Oscar-nominated director of photography Dick Pope (“Mr. Turner,” “The Illusionist”), production designer Beth Mickle (“Drive,” “Collateral Beauty”), Oscar-nominated editor Joe Klotz (“Precious,” “The Butler”) and costume designer Amy Roth (TV’s “The Looming Tower,” “Indignation”).


Music plays an important role in setting the tone and establishing the period of “Motherless Brooklyn.” The score is composed by Daniel Pemberton (“Steve Jobs,” “All The Money In The World,” “Oceans 8,” “Spider Man: Into The Spiderverse”) and features Wynton Marsalis on the trumpet. The film also features an original song written and performed by Thom Yorke.


Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Class 5 Films / MWM Studios Production, “Motherless Brooklyn.” Slated for release on November 1, 2019, the film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Roadshow Films
Roadshow Films
Roadshow Films


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Guillermo, Founder and Manager of Screen Realm, lives and breathes all things screen and pop culture. He has over eight years' experience in the media landscape in a career that has encompassed television, radio, and the online space. When he's not working hard on Screen Realm, you can find him at a local Sydney cinema or catching up on his ever-growing list of must-watch TV shows. He's also started a video podcast with his wife, Cassandra. Find the LOUD OBSERVERS right HERE.