The Happy Valley actor, 37, plays a deeply troubled lawyer called Jude, who relentlessly self-harms after being subjected to years of sexual abuse, in Ivo Van Hove’s stage version of Hanya Yanagihara’s bestselling 2015 novel.
Websites selling tickets for the show, which begins in March, warn of suicide, drugs, nudity, self-harm, rape and violence on stage.
In a new interview on Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday morning (10 March), Norton said: “I feel very looked after. We have therapists and they’ve really gone through amazing safeguards to make sure we’re all looked after, because there are no punches pulled in this production. We do have to go to places that are quite disturbing, but I do feel very supported and able to do it.”
Speaking about working with intimacy coordinators for the production, he said: “Lots of people have lots of opinions about intimacy coaches and it’s a relatively new job and I think people are still working out certain parameters.
“Some people will say, ‘Oh, I don’t need them,’ but if that intimacy co-ordinator prevents that one actor from experiencing life-changing trauma then of course it justifies the other 99 people who don’t need it. I needed it on this, definitely.”
Norton’s remarks come after the Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean argued that intimacy co-ordinators “spoil the spontaneity” of sex scenes.
A Little Life will run at three hours and 40 minutes. Speaking to The Independent in January, Norton said of the play’s subject matter: “It’s probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done in my life. I woke up and had moments like, ‘What am I doing voluntarily going into this place, this darkness?’
“Hanya wanted to write a book about a protagonist who ultimately was not on the path to salvation, and there is no light at the end, and it was the antithesis to the American dream. And you do question that. ‘Why would I put myself through this? Multiple times? For three months?’ But it being this scary and terrifying prospect is the reason why you have to do it.”
He also discussed how he will cope being on stage for so long as someone who is type 1 diabetic. Read more here.
A Little Life will run for 12 weeks from 25 March at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London.
Due to the unprecedented demand for tickets, it will play a further five weeks at the Savoy Theatre from 4 July.