Josh Hartnett: Why I Left Hollywood And Turned Down Superhero Roles

Truth rating: 10
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By Daniel Gates

(Getty Images)

Josh Hartnett talks about disappearing from Hollywood and misconceptions about his personal life in a new Details interview.

When he started in the movie business at 18 years old, the actor, who stars in the upcoming Showtime series “Penny Dreadful,” had instant success.

“Within two weeks. I didn’t have to struggle as an actor, although I think that I’ve made up for it now,” he tells the magazine. “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.” He says, “It’s not bad. It’s actually more rewarding. Depressing when something doesn’t go your way, but only for a minute.”

At one point, Hartnett was being considered for some of the biggest comic book roles. “Spider-Man was something we talked about,” he recalls. “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.”

While at the height of his fame in the early 2000s, Hartnett retreated from the spotlight.

He explains, “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,” says Hartnett. “I’m still finding my way through all that.”

The onetime PETA-named “World’s Sexiest Vegetarian” has made other changes, too. “I’m not a vegetarian anymore,” says Hartnett. “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.”

The actor has been linked over the years to some of the world’s most famous women, but he says he still gets “nervous” asking someone out, and disputes his reputation as a ladies’ man.

“If you’re a ladies’ man, that’s what you do with your life — always chasing,” explains Hartnett. “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.” What do you think about what Hartnett says?

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