Star of Netflix smash hit, Glass Onion, Edward Norton says he’s “uncomfortable” after discovering his ancestors owned a family of slaves, including five young girls.
In a newly issued preview for the PBS series ‘Finding Your Roots’, which sees a host of celebrities exploring their family history, warts and all, the Glass Onion actor shows concern as he’s informed of his unfavourable lineage.
In the preview clip, Norton is presented with a photo of two parents and their five young girls, aged four, six, eight, nine and ten. The programme’s host, Henry Louis Gates Jr. then informs Norton that his ancestors once legally owned the family as slaves. He asked Norton: “What’s it like to see that?”
“The short answer is, these things are uncomfortable, and you should be uncomfortable with them,” Norton replied. “Everybody should be uncomfortable with it.”
“It’s not a judgement on your and your own life, but it’s a judgement on the history of this country,” he added. “It needs to be acknowledged first and foremost, and then it needs to be contended with.
“When you go away from census counts, and you personalise things, you’re talking about, possibly, a husband and wife with five girls – and these girls are slaves. Born into slavery.”
Gates Jr interjected: “Born into slavery and in slavery in perpetuity,” to which Norton replied: “Yeah. Again, when you read ‘slave aged eight,’ you just want to die.”
Norton’s unpalatable revelation comes following the news that fellow actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s family could incur reparations from the Barbados government due to historic slave trade involvement.
Cumberbatch has been open about his family’s links to the slave trade. Having revealed similar discomfort to Norton, the Sherlock actor took roles in films like Amazing Grace and 12 Years A Slave in recognition of the fact.
As The Daily Telegraph reported, Joshua Cumberbatch, the seventh great-grandfather of Benedict, bought the Cleland plantation of Barbados in 1728, which was home to 250 slaves and operated for over 100 years before abolition.