Norton close on ‘Rounders’

Academy Award nominee Edward Norton is in final negotiations to join Matt Damon in John Dahl’s “Rounders” for Miramax.

Pic is being produced by Spanky Pictures partners Ted Demme and Joel Stillerman. Screenplay is by Brian Koppelman and David Levien.

“Rounders” follows a reformed gambler (Damon), who resurfaces in the New York underground poker scene to help a paroled buddy (Norton) pay off loan sharks. Project begins rehearsals in New York on Monday and lensing begins a week later.

Norton made a meteoric rise from an unknown with his bigscreen debut in “Primal Fear,” which earned the Yale grad an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. He parlayed that critical success into roles in Woody Allen’s “Everyone Says I Love You” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt.”

Since then the actor has starred in Tony Kaye’s recently wrapped “American History X” for New Line. In addition to his unconditional pay-or-play deal with Warner Bros. for the stalled “Runaway Jury,” Norton has been mentioned to co-star in such upcoming projects as David Fincher’s “Fight Club” and the Dahl-helmed “Blackout.” Norton also is attached to star and produce “Keeping the Faith” at Columbia Pictures.

Norton is represented by International Creative Management.

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