Josh Hartnett tells Details he was offered Superman, Spiderman & Batman


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.”

[From Details]

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.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

70 Responses to “Josh Hartnett tells Details he was offered Superman, Spiderman & Batman”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Dani2 says:

    Forgot he was still around tbh. I used to have a huge crush on him back in the day.

    • MrsB says:

      Oh I did too, right after Pearl Harbor. He has not aged well though.

      • Dee says:

        I don’t know, I think he looks great. He’s in a lot of Asian movies and he’s still a good actor but he would be #1 on a list for “Actors everyone thought were going to become the next big thing.”

        I loved him in The Faculty.

      • silken_floss says:

        I beg to differ… Getting older has made him hotter in my book. He seem to have gained some weight too. Mama likey *heavy breathing intensifies*

  2. melodycalder says:

    *patting josh on the head* sure, sure. Whatever you it takes to get you through the day. 🙂

    • Rachel says:

      My take also.

    • Div says:

      He’s not lying. Nikke Finke wrote about this ages ago back when she worked for LA Weekly. He’s talking about the Brandon Routh Superman. That said I bet he does have serious regrets

      • starrywonder says:

        Yeah I remember he was offered that role and he was initially in talks for Spiderman. I love him. Lucky Number Slevin with him and Bruce Willis was freaking awesome. I am glad he is back on television.

    • Kaylen says:

      He’s legit. It’s been circulated in the press for years, he was offered the roles.

  3. Francis says:

    Josh Brolin?

  4. Dorothy#1 says:

    He looks good with facial hair.

  5. Karen says:

    I’ve actually never heard of him, good interview though. His whole career would be radically different today if he’d taken a big franchise role. I really think it’s not the case that a role will define you if you’re a diverse actor – Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, etc.

    I ADORE Eva Green. I’ll definitely be tuning into Penny Dreadful.

  6. tila says:

    He comes across surprisingly well.

  7. Loopy says:

    Gosh i watched The Faculty and H20 a million times back when, him and Ryan Phillipe were my little crushes. It’s a shame how they didn’t capitalise enough on their stardom.

  8. Mia4S says:

    It doesn’t necessarily sound like he was offered the roles, more like he was up for them and backed off? At least on Batman as I recall the final two were Bale and Jake Gyllenhaal. That’s a very different thing but would definitely still piss the agents off.

    • don't kill me i'm french says:

      He was the first choice for Batman for Wolgang Peterson’s Batman Vs Superman around 2003/4
      For Batman Begins,Nolan met every actor under 35 years old in Hollywood and NY.Jake Guyllenhaal was the fav of David Goyer whereas Bale was Nolan’s fav and also the first actor that Nolan met for the character

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s kind of the impression too – I’d imagine most actors his age were in talks for those roles, but I don’t know that he had formal offers for all three that he declined – he doesn’t seem to be saying as much either, just that there were talks.

      • kri says:

        He seems kind of like a real boy. A bit of a bloke a la Tom Hardy, and that is a huge compliment in my book. Intrigued.

      • Jen says:

        LOL he is literally NOTHING like Tom Hardy. What an insult to Tom.

  9. aims says:

    I would hit that hard in a second.

    • Mimz says:

      Thanks I feel exactly the same. A decade ago my best friend was head-over-heels crushing on him and I was like “meh” but now hmmm I would, DEFINITELY hit it!

    • Oh La La says:

      Same! He’s gorgeous. 🙂

  10. Bridget says:

    None of these were hard offers (though Superman Returns I’d definitely believe) and Spiderman especially had such a different vision for Peter Parker. Hartnett’s probably right – stuff came too easy for him, and I would think in that scenario its easy to overlook how much crappy work you’re doing. It’s different when you have to fight for it, you know? And he did some CRAP. Hollywood Homicide? 40 Days and 40 Nights?

    • starrywonder says:

      Ah I did like Hollywood Homicide. It was freaking awful with Harrison Ford chewing the scenery but if you kind of squinted at it it made for an okay movie to watch while drinking.

  11. lex says:

    I like him! He was good in Virgin Suicides 🙂

    • minime says:

      Yes!! And he was great in “The Black Dahlia”.
      I wondered what had happened to him. It is a nice interview and it seems very genuine also. I hope he gets in the scene again.

    • Size Does Matter says:

      I agree with you both on all points. I liked him in Pearl Harbor, too. I thought he was so hot. Not digging the current hair and facial hair, I think though. Something’s off.

  12. Mimi says:

    Man, every time someone mentions Heath, it’s like a kick in the stomach. We definitely lost one of the most talented actors ever when he passed. As for Hartnett, meh. He always seemed slightly above average in the talent department but never really “grabbed” me. I might check out Penny Dreadful, though. Seems just twisted enough for my taste lol.

    • Dani2 says:

      Yeah, thinking about Heath always makes me sad. Life is a weird thing.

    • Jayna says:

      I remember watching Brokeback Mountain, and Heath’s performance was so brilliant throughout that I couldn’t stop thinking that in amazement even as the movie was going on. I was so focused on his brilliant performance that I didn’t notice as much Jake’s, whose role was smaller. But after the movie was over, Jake’s character stayed with me more, his naivete in yearning for more, and I came to appreciate Jake’s performance almost just as much. But I was so blown away by Heath and the movie that I watched it again the minute it came out on DVD

    • ParisPucker says:

      Same here:( He was also charming and lovely as ever in a ‘Knight’s Tale’ – it’s not Oscar material but still really entertaining. And then Batman – he was so good in that. He left us too soon… much too soon.

  13. FingerBinger says:

    I like Josh Hartnett, but if we’re being honest he’s not that good of an actor. He has about three facial expressions.

  14. Allie says:

    He was all over my walls as a pre-teen. Well hellllooo, Josh, I’m over 21 now….

  15. Jen says:

    He is soooooooo blandy bland bland mcbland. Even Ben Affleck was more interesting and charismatic than him in Pearl Harbor.

    • don't kill me i'm french says:

      It says how bland Josh is

    • Dani2 says:

      Yeah, much as I used to crush on him, there was always something slightly oatmeal-esque about him

    • Jacqueline says:

      Bland, maybe. But to his credit, he isn’t a jerk or scandal-ridden to my knowledge. I think the fact that he didn’t burn and bridges or leave Hollywood in a blaze of controversy is what leaves the door open for a very possible comeback.

    • mom2two says:

      I never understood the big deal about him back in the day. I have a feeling he does not regret turning down Superman Returns (it did nothing for Brandon Routh), I don’t think he would have made a good Spiderman and Bale was perfect as Batman.
      All that being said, this is a good and seemingly very honest interview with him. Penny Dreadful looks interesting and I am kind of sad I don’t have Showtime to see it. A good cable show might be where it’s at for him.

  16. zbornak syndrome says:

    I think he was no longer needed because the public already had Ashton Kutcher. Also, Josh must be an idiot. Why not just be a stage actor?

    That recording of him calling 911 because “I’m pooping too much and gonna die” really turned me off him.

    • V4real says:

      TMZ still runs that recording every now and then.
      I still love Josh and glad he’s back on the scene.

  17. Memme says:

    Man I remember falling in love with him while watching The Virgin Suicides.

    Don’t all male actors want to play a superhero at some point in their career? Especially at that age? Ok, I’ll buy he was offered the roles. What I don’t buy is why he turned them down. I think it was more that he was too scared to take on such iconic characters, and much less him afraid of being defined by said characters.

  18. KB says:

    I’m not sure if he means he was offered Toby Maguire’s Spider-man and Christian Bale’s Batman or if he means he was offered the roles in movies that didn’t get made. I imagine Spider-Man and Batman were discussed for awhile before the films had scripts and directors, etc.

  19. Talie says:

    I believe him — at the time of those initial superhero movies, he was a very hot young actor.

  20. allheavens says:

    I always like Josh, be is an above average actor but with the right script and director he can be a really good actor.

    I really loved Lucky Number Slevin, Mozart and the Whale and Black Hawk Down but some of his and his management teams choices were dreadful.

    I am looking forward to Penny Dreadful, it is right up my alley and I adore Eva Green.

  21. Vesta says:

    Hartnett doesn’t move me that much, but Penny Dreadful sure looks interesting.
    Eva Green, yes…and above all, Timothy Dalton – YES, FOREVER YES.

  22. littlestar says:

    I had forgotten all about this guy! TBH, I was never wild about him like some girls were back in the day – he looks too much like one of my brothers!!! I kinda like him too though after this interview, he seems decent.

  23. Miss M says:

    I used to have such a huge crush on him.

  24. iskra says:

    I really liked this guy back in the days. I guess he was simply scared of everything fame has brought him, and if he thought it was too much to handle it, i´m glad he did the moves he did. It doesn´t sound like he is complaining or anything. He sounds mature and really grown up, I´m glad he didn´t let all that Hollywood hype get him. Could he do better – yes. Could he do worse and let fame ruin him – yes. I´m glad he is back on TV, I´ll be watching Penny for sure.

  25. Leah says:

    I’m not sure if I can say this? Delete if not! But my friend who works on PD says that he is an absolute dog on the town when his girlfriend isn’t here. Again, I have not seen this with my own eyes.

  26. raindrop says:

    Lucky Number Slevin was very good. The guy can act, but I think you’re right – he’s not great at choosing the right scripts.

  27. kimber says:

    Missed seeing him. He was never into huge movies. I say have no regrets just get out there and do your thing!

  28. Jayna says:

    Impressive interview. He is definitely very self-aware. I like him again too.

  29. Maritza says:

    Josh Harnett is kind of forgettable, he falls in the category as Orlando Bloom.

  30. Isadora says:

    Don’t care about Hartnett but EVA GREEN!! Love her! However Penny Dreadful looks a bit… I don’t know… not my cup of tea.

  31. mayamae says:

    I haven’t seen a lot of his work, but I absolutely adore him in 30 Days of Night. I cry every time I watch it and he dies at the end. I know horror films aren’t known for their acting, but he owns that role.

    What some may see as bland and oatmeal, I see as a Midwestern kind of guy. I’m originally from the Chicagoland area and he would fit right in. He’s only 35 years old – so young to be a “has been”.

    Penny Dreadful is my kind of show. I’ll be watching, but contorting bodies always freaks me out.

  32. Damaris says:

    Heath and Johnny’s love child.

  33. Cassandra_J says:

    I was never into him either tbat was always my cousin Mickey. My heart has and always will belong to Heath :,(

  34. Happy says:

    He’s not hot at all; I never saw the appeal. And note that he didn’t actually say he ‘turned down’ those roles; he was being courted for them, probably along with 5 or 6 other actors at least. I can’t remember anything he was in except that horrible comic/sword fighting film with Gackt and the Jerry Bruckheimer one with Kate Beckingsale and Ben Affleck (Pearl Harbour). His acting doesn’t stand out and he isn’t hot at all. Also, actors love to go on about how the industry swallows you up or how tortured and deep they are. Josh has had an easy ride so I don’t think he should play this card. Leo DiCaprio is a great example of someone who can seriously act and acts like a pro all the time. (Plus at nearly 40, he manages to date supermodels half his age and not cop 10% of the flak that George Clooney and others have gotten.)

  35. Squeeg says:

    I remember reading a review of a movie he was in years ago and the reviewer said he had something blank in his eyes that reminded him of GW Bush. I thought that was pretty mean but true. Maybe he’s been trying to fill himself up to be a better actor.

  36. derpshooter says:

    I liked him in ‘O’ – that crazy Othello/basketball movie that came out in the 90s. I thought he gave off a very good creepy vibe.

  37. Anne tommy says:

    Somebody else may have said this, sorry but the guy is far too boring to read all this stuff about him, but he was allegedly a fave for the Loki role at one time. What a wooden himbo disaster that would have been….