Josh Hartnett on what major roles he declined, why he couldn’t handle fame

Josh Hartnett Now

Early last decade, Josh Harnett seemed to be everywhere — at least among my group of teenage girlfriends. (One friend’s AIM screen name was even something along the lines of “Josh Harnett Lover.”) Then, fairly rapidly, the Pearl Harbor star disappeared from the covers of magazines, major movies and red carpets.

Now the 35-year-old star admits he semi-intentionally faded away from the spotlight because he couldn’t handle the heat.

“I couldn’t really go anywhere. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I was alone. I didn’t trust anyone,” Josh told Details of the height of his fame and his decision to retreat to Minnesota. “I’m still finding my way through all that.”

Josh Hartnett - Virgin Suicides
Josh Hartnett in The Virgin Suicides, 1999.

Josh was also wary of roles with potential to pigeonhole him as an actor.

“Spider-Man was something we talked about. Batman was another one,” he said of walking away from discussions in his 20s. “I didn’t want to be labeled as Superman for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger.”

He said it didn’t help that his managers and agents were constantly pulling him in different directions.

“There was a lot of infighting… Trying to figure out who to put the blame on,” Josh said. “It got to the point where none of us were able to work together.”

Now, after spending the past few years primarily in the indie movie scene, Josh said compromise doesn’t scare him. He’s also grateful to have the perspective that comes along with actually having to fight for roles.

“I didn’t have to struggle as an actor, although I think that I’ve made up for it now. I still get offered films and TV roles, luckily, but years ago, if I saw a role I wanted, there was a good chance I could grab it,” he said of what it was like when he arrived in Hollywood at 18. “When I see a role now, I’ve got to fight for it. It’s not bad. It’s actually more rewarding. Depressing when something doesn’t go your way, but only for a minute.”

Josh is now starring in Penny Dreadful, a new series premiering on Showtime next month. Watch the trailer here… And brace yourself for seeing a whole lot more of Josh Hartnett again.

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