Edward Norton had no idea what was just around the river bend.
The 53-year-old appeared as a guest on Tuesday’s premiere of PBS’s “Finding your Roots,” a show that traces the family tree of entertainers and public figures, where the actor learned that he’s distantly related to Pocahontas.
The “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” star, alongside the show’s host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., found out that the legendary Powhatan woman — whose tragic life was romanticized by Disney in the eponymous 1995 flick — is, in fact, Norton’s 12th great-grandmother.
“I understand that was family lore,” said Gates to Norton, whose family had long claimed that they were related to the iconic indigenous figure. “Well, it is absolutely true.”
“Oh my god,” murmured the shocked Golden Globe Award winner, in a clip posted by Gates on Twitter.
Pocahontas, born around 1596, hailed from the Tidewater region of Virginia, where she was met with English settlers to Jamestown during the early 17th century. In 1613, the teenage woman was captured and held ransom by colonizers, during which time they forced her to convert to Christianity, and marry tobacco planter John Rolfe in 1614.
“John Rolfe and Pocahontas got married on April 5, 1614. Shakespeare dies in 1616, just to put this in perspective,” the genealogist continued. “Pocahontas died sometime in March 1617 in Gravesend, England, and John Rolfe died around March 1622.”
In 1616, Pocahontas travelled with Rolfe back to England, where she was celebrated as a “princess” of European colonization. She died the following year of an unconfirmed illness.
“This makes you realize what a small piece of the human story you are,” Norton said of the revelation.
Norton’s lineage is full of surprises, evidently, as Gates further revealed that John Winstead, the actor’s third great-grandfather, owned slaves — a fact which made him “uncomfortable,” he claimed.
“The short answer is these things are uncomfortable, and you should be uncomfortable with them, everybody should be uncomfortable with it,” Norton mused. “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.”
Gates noted that Norton arrived at the taping more prepared to talk about his family “than any guest I can recall.”
Elsewhere in the episode, viewers learn of Norton’s relation to Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers, and a 19th century pro-union labor activist
“I gotta be honest, one of the things that amazes me is that they were making these kinds of records in that kind of a tumultuous time,” he said.
“Finding Your Roots” airs Tuesdays on PBS, and is available to stream online or the app.