Josh Hartnett was supposed to be a big deal. More than a decade ago, it was supposed to be Josh and Heath Ledger – they were the bright young things, the would-be movie stars that everybody had their eye on. Heath fulfilled that prophecy and it destroyed him. Josh gave movie stardom a shot for a few years, then he fell down the rabbit hole of never-seen indie film after indie film. Part of me things that Josh simply didn’t give a crap about “stardom” in the end. And part of me thinks that he did want it and he just couldn’t pick a decent script to save his life. Anyway, Josh has finally transitioned to television with the new Showtime series Penny Dreadful. Josh did a Details interview (you can read the full thing here) to promote the show. The quotes are… interesting.
Why he decided to do TV: “I did, like, 10 independent films, but none of them landed with an audience. There were a lot of times—too many times—when people would come up to me and say, ‘Oh, I saw August on DVD’ or ‘I saw Lucky Number Slevin on Showtime.’ They’d be like, ‘Such a good movie—what happened to it? Why didn’t it come out?’ So I figured I could continue to beat my head against the wall, or I could take a different tack and try something else.
Turning down Superman Returns & other superheroes: “Spider-Man was something we talked about. Batman was another one. But I somehow knew those roles had potential to define me, and I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be labeled as Superman for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger.”
Were his managers upset? “I didn’t have those agents for much longer after that. There was a lot of infighting between my manager and agents, trying to figure out who to put the blame on. It got to the point where none of us were able to work together.”
If he was offered a superhero now: “I’d say, ‘Let’s talk about how it would be done, see if we can get on the same page.’ Compromise doesn’t scare me anymore.”
Disappearing to Minnesota at the height of his fame: “I was on the cover of every magazine. I couldn’t really go anywhere. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I was alone. I didn’t trust anyone. So I went back to Minnesota and got back together with my old friends—ended up getting back together with my high-school girlfriend for a while—and I didn’t do any filming for 18 months. I’m still finding my way through all that.”
He got work as soon as he arrive in Hollywood: “Within two weeks. 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. 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.”
He’s not a vegetarian anymore: “I’m not a vegetarian anymore. I think I was just rebelling. I had a story that I’d told myself, but I don’t know if it was the actual case: When I was 12 years old, I cut up a boneless breast of chicken and I thought I hit something like a tumor, and I decided, ‘I don’t want to eat this anymore.’ That lasted 14 years, until I was 26.”
Does he still get nervous asking women out? “Of course! I get nervous. But for 10 years, every relationship I had was with somebody who was in the same business. I mean, who do you date in your twenties, you know?”
Whether he’s a ladies’ man: “If you’re a ladies’ man, that’s what you do with your life—always chasing. That’s never been the case with me. I’ve always just wanted a relationship. Otherwise there’s nothing. The scene can eat you up. It’s eaten up enough of my life already.”
Okay, so I sort of liked him after reading this. Damn it, Hartnett! I will not fall for your charms again!! You’ve already broken my heart a decade ago. He seems remarkably self-aware, right? Like, he’s fine with taking the hits about being too immature to deal with everything that was handed to him on a silver platter when he was in his early 20s. He was scared, he wanted to be a “real actor,” not a movie star and he thought that he couldn’t do both. Has he matured now? Will he find a long-term home in TV?
Here’s the trailer for Penny Dreadful. Eva Green!
Photos courtesy of WENN.