The actor plays a caged arsonist bidding for release in the film, which also stars Robert De Niro as a parole officer.
And Norton was so determined to make his portrayal authentic, he sought out real life inmates to model his character on.
He tells the New York Post, "I talked to dozens of prisoners, some in for violent crime and lots of different things. The one or two that Stone was closely modelled on... they were guys who had been involved in drug trade and gang neighbourhoods.
"I think 50 or 60 per cent of the language of my character came from these guys. All the terminology and the phrases."
He even copied his character's eyecatching cornrow haircut from a prisoner: "I had seen a lot of guys in prison with that haircut. We were on the fence about it and then one of the guys who was most interesting to us had that look."