Edward Norton Discovers Pocahontas Is His 12th Great Grandmother on ‘Finding Your Roots’

"Makes you realize what a small piece of the whole human story you are," Norton said.
Edward Norton
Edward Norton

Edward Norton got the chance to fact-check a long-standing family rumor thanks to “Finding Your Roots.”

The “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” actor confirmed a long-standing family rumor that he is related to Pocahontas, the famed 17th-century Powhatan woman who married English settler John Rolfe in 1614. During a recent episode of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots,” Norton learns that Pocahontas is his 12th great-grandmother.

“I understand that was family lore,” host Henry Louis Gates Jr. told Norton. “Well, it is absolutely true.”

Gates contextualized the fact: “John Rolfe and Pocahontas got married on April 5, 1614. Shakespeare dies in 1616, just to put this in perspective,” he said. “Pocahontas died sometime in March 1617 in Grave’s End, England, and John Rolfe died around March 1622.”

Norton replied, “This is about as far back as you can go, unless you’re a Viking. Makes you realize what a small piece of the whole human story you are.”

Norton’s other distant relatives also include a Civil War soldier who wrote to Abraham Lincoln and a 19th-century pro-union labor activist. He is also related to a third great-grandfather named John Winstead who is reported to have owned slaves during an 1850 North Carolina census.

“The short answer is these things are uncomfortable, and you should be uncomfortable with them, everybody should be uncomfortable with it,” Norton said. “It’s not a judgment on you and your own life, but it’s a judgment on the history of this country and it needs to be acknowledged first and foremost, and then it needs to be contended with.”

“Finding Your Roots” has also claimed that Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly are cousins, and that Larry David and Bernie Sanders are related.

Norton currently stars as idiotic tech-bro billionaire Miles Bron in Netflix’s “Glass Onion.” Director Rian Johnson recently insisted the character was not based on Elon Musk despite the timely parallels to Musk’s spiraling public image amid his takeover of Twitter. “There’s a lot of general stuff about that sort of species of tech billionaire that went directly into it. But obviously, it has almost a weird relevance in exactly the current moment,” Johnson told Wired. “A friend of mine said, ‘Man, that feels like it was written this afternoon.’ And that’s just sort of a horrible, horrible accident, you know?”

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