After a dispute with Edward Norton, the ''American History X'' director is back to helm ''Blackwater Transit''

By Tim Stack
March 16, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

By the end of 1998, it was looking like director Tony Kaye would never work again. His battles with New Line Cinema and star Edward Norton over the final cut of his acclaimed neo-Nazi drama American History X (which he loudly disowned) became the stuff of Hollywood legend — and transformed Kaye into a veritable pariah. Now the iconoclast is back: After a positive reception at Toronto for the abortion documentary Lake of Fire, the director has nabbed a gig helming the upcoming thriller Blackwater Transit, which will feature Black Snake Moan star Samuel L. Jackson. ”I think [the producers] thought maybe I could bring some modernity with my music-video [experience],” says Kaye, 54, who begins shooting Transit in New Orleans next month.

What’s more, Kaye says he’s now mended his relationship with New Line — ”I’m eternally grateful to them” — and says he’s trying to get Norton to appear in Humpty Dumpty, a docudrama he’s been making about his ”descent into inner chaos” during the troubled AHX shoot. What’s with the sudden change of heart? ”I’m the sort of person that makes lots of mistakes and then I tend to learn from them,” he says. ”But my endeavors last time were passionate — and about making the film better. I’ve been in a holding pattern and I’m just very happy to be working. I want to do my bit to benefit mankind and end the chaos.”

(For more about Tony Kaye’s upcoming film plans, read our extended Q&A with him here.)