Edward Norton: Helping Lazy People Give Back

The Oscar nominee has launched a new site for you, your friends (and all his celeb friends) to network about important causes

Many celebs use sites like Twitter to share their random feelings and feuds with the world. (We're looking at you, Lindsay Lohan!). But Edward Norton, star of blockbuster hits like Fight Club and The Incredible Hulk and dramas like American History X and The Illusionist, has decided to create a social networking site with a little more substance.

The actor recently launched Crowdrise.com, a site that helps users spread the word about causes they're interested in. With the help of star buddies including Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell and Russell Brand, Norton's site maintains the fun, lighthearted feel of sites like Facebook and Twitter, but puts the focus on fundraising (with the tagline, "4 out of 5 dentists surveyed rated Crowdrise the coolest way to make a difference," how could you not want to get involved?). Norton, 40, talked to iVillage about his new project.

Why did you decide to create a fundraising website?
It's expensive to engineer a website and the average person can't do it, and sometimes, even small organizations can't do it. It seemed really cool, this idea that instead of just raising money for the things I care about, I could give people a tool where millions of people could be doing the same thing.

What's your response to people who say they don't have enough time or money to make a difference?
This takes away the barriers of time and money. Even if you don't have any money to give. Say you volunteer -- you shouldn't have to run a marathon or do a walkathon to support something you care about. If you volunteer 10 hours a week at the local library or the local soup kitchen, you can share that with people. You can say, "Look, this is what I do, this is why I do it, and I want to raise a thousand bucks. Will you sponsor the volunteering that I do?" We're finding a lot of people respond to that notion. And if you have an easy tool for communicating about it, it takes away the barriers of time an effort.

Jonah Hill said Crowdrise is the perfect way for lazy people to do something good. Do you agree?
Yes! Just two days ago I talked to Seth Rogen and he said, "Okay, how much work am I going to have to do?" I was like, "Dude, just go do it!" And then I saw him last night, and he said, "Dude, that was ridiculous. That was so easy!" He set his page up in literally, like, 7.2 minutes.

Did he actually do it by himself?
Oh, yeah! He definitely did. And he's got his project, Jonah's project and Paul Rudd's project on his page.

You've gotten tons of other celebs to join your cause. How did you get them involved?
Some are friends who signed up right away, but others came to us. Like Kristen Bell heard about it and got in touch. She said, 'Can you guys help me design one for Dress for Success?' A lot of people are coming to it on their own.

That's got to be rewarding. 
Yeah, it's really fun that you can come on here and check out someone you admire. But it's really not intended to be a platform for celebrity. These (non-famous) people set up a Crowdrise page for their wedding and asked people not to give them presents but to donate money.

Like a wedding registry for charity?
Exactly. And they raised $9,000.

How do you balance your charity work with your acting career?
The thing about being an actor is, it's fluid. I work very hard sometimes, and sometimes I don’t have a job. So I have the opportunity to sort of shape my time as I want.

Do you think celebs overshare on sites like Twitter?
I don’t really have any interest in that stuff myself. But, you know, whatever gives you a thrill. I do think a lot of people are looking at how broad-based communication can actually lead to things. I mean, look at Ashton Kutcher. He's raised an incredible amount of money for malaria nets on his Twitter site. It's amazing what you can do if you get enough people to just tune in to a small degree. That's cool.

You once said you'd always continue to ride the New York subway, despite your celeb status. Is that still true?
Yes, definitely. I don't have celeb status, per se. I think they took that card away from me.

So people don't stop you on the subway, and ask for your autograph?
No, I'm a master of disguise. I teach a CIA course on going undetected. I'm like a chameleon. I get away with it.

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What do you do to give back? Chime in below!

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