Well after 1 a.m. on Saturday, Edward Norton was enraptured, listening to a live performance of jazz music.
The actor was deep in celebration of the premiere of his directorial debut.
He’d just been at Lincoln Center with Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw hosting a screening of his upcoming film “Motherless Brooklyn,” a noir murder mystery based on the book by Jonathan Lethem.
But Norton had moved the party to Jazz at Lincoln Center on Columbus Circle, where guests were treated to a performance by the Wynton Marsalis Quintet — which happens to be the same group that played the music for the movie.
“You might have noticed there’s some good music in that film,” Norton said when he introduced the band, adding that Thom Yorke and Daniel Pemberton — who attended the party wearing a violet suit — worked on the soundtrack. “My friend and one of the musical druids of the world Wynton Marsalis played that trumpet all the way through the movie, after he listened to Daniel’s score and liked it so much.”
Instead of setting the movie in the Nineties as the novel does, Norton moved the time period to the Fifties. But the topics the plot touches upon — city-level shrewd politicking, discrimination and racism — still ring distinctly of today.
Jazz is another thematic element of prevalence in “Motherless Brooklyn.” The story takes place in large part at a fictional Harlem club called The King Rooster, which Mbatha-Raw’s character Laura’s family owns.
The 36-year-old actress held a martini glass at the after party, wearing a canary yellow gown; she listened to the music intently, swaying deeply and bouncing around at times. The magician David Blaine popped in for a spell, too.
Hours before the after party, Norton was at Alice Tully Hall closing out the New York Film Festival with his showing of “Motherless Brooklyn.”
“I came to the New York Film Festival for the first time 30 years ago, when ‘Do the Right Thing’ came out,” he told the crowd. “It took audiences seriously.”
He invited Willis, Dafoe, Mbatha-Raw and Bobby Cannavale, another costar, onstage to talk about the process behind filming movie.
Norton got a bit choked up when he relayed a story about a fire that broke out on set and resulted in the death of a New York City Firefighter who was called to the scene. He dedicated the screening to that engineman.
“Now, close your eyes. Forget about all this,” Norton said, gesturing to the star-studded stage. “Erase everything in the hard drive and lose yourself in the film.”
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