A little less than a year ago, Penny Dreadful star Josh Hartnett dropped a bombshell on Details. Not only did he turn down Superman Returns, but he also said “no thanks” to Spider-Man and Batman. That seems like three pretty ballsy decisions, but as he told the magazine, he was just a 22-year-old with agents who had no clue what they were doing. More importantly, he wanted to be respected as an artist and didn’t want to be pigeonholed as the Man of Steel.
Now, in a new interview with Playboy, Hartnett elaborated on the Batman decision, and because it’s easy to play the role of Captain Hindsight, we can’t help but wonder: Bro, what the hell were you thinking? Hartnett revealed that it was Christopher Nolan who wanted him to play Batman, and saying no to the director also cost him at least one more great role.
What is the blowback when you say no to big directors and projects?
I’ve definitely said no to some of the wrong people. I said no because I was tired and wanted to spend more time with my friends and family. That’s frowned upon in this industry. People don’t like being told no. I don’t like it. I learned my lesson when [writer-director] Christopher Nolan and I talked about Batman. I decided it wasn’t for me. Then he didn’t want to put me in The Prestige. They not only hired their Batman for it, they also hired my girlfriend at the time.
So Christian Bale and Scarlett Johansson got to make The Prestige, and Bale also got to make three Batman movies, all with Christopher Nolan. The same year The Prestige came out, you starred in both the little-seen, well-liked Lucky Number Slevin and the little-seen, much less well-liked The Black Dahlia, also with Johansson.
That’s when I realized relationships were formed in the fire of that first Batman film and I should have been part of the relationship with this guy Nolan, who I felt was incredibly cool and very talented. I was so focused on not being pigeonholed and so scared of being considered only one thing as an actor. I should have thought, Well, then, work harder, man. Watching Christian Bale go on to do so many other things has been just awesome. I mean, he’s been able to overcome that. Why couldn’t I see that at the time? (Via Playboy)
Compared to the Details interview, Hartnett now seems to be filled with way more regret about not playing a superhero, especially because the next two questions seem to twist the dagger a little more. Specifically, the reminder that Hartnett starred in Pearl Harbor. Yikes. At least things are going well for him now.