In 1995, casting agent Shirley Rich discovered Norton. He then rented a studio space near The Public Theater and presented his auditions of Shakespearean works to her. Impressed by his acting, she introduced Norton to the executives of the noir drama Primal Fear, an adaptation of William Diehl's 1993 novel. He was selected for the part over two thousand other prospects. Released in 1996, Primal Fear features Norton in the role of Aaron Stampler, an altar boy who is charged with the murder of a Roman Catholic archbishop and is defended by Martin Vail (Richard Gere). His performance was lauded by critics; the Chicago Sun-Times praised Norton's character as "completely convincing", while the San Francisco Chronicle dubbed the actor "the one to watch" after his compelling debut. Norton won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category for his role in the film. Norton starred in two other films released in 1996; he played Holden Spence in the musical Everyone Says I Love You and lawyer Alan Isaacman in the biographical drama The People vs. Larry Flynt.