After a slew of hit films in the early 2000s, including Lucky Number Slevin, Black Hawk Down, 30 Days of Night, and Pearl Harbor, Josh Hartnett put a pause on his relationship with Hollywood. Now, he's explaining why.
On Wednesday, Dec. 8, the Penny Dreadful actor made an appearance on Australia's Channel Seven morning program Sunrise and shared that his decision to keep "Hollywood at bay" in the mid-2000s was "the best thing for my mental health and my career."
According to Hartnett, his decision to step away from the leading man limelight in favor of taking on more artistic roles came after he discovered what mattered most to him in life. "Luckily, I think I hit onto it early on," he said via Daily Mail. "It's about creating a good home life and being able to do things that are wild and wonderful like making films, which is such a privilege."
Still, Hartnett maintained in the interview that he held one regret from that time period: declining the role of cowboy Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee's 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, which he was originally set to star in opposite Joaquin Phoenix.
Hartnett explained that his reasoning for leaving the film was because of a scheduling conflict, saying, "Unfortunately, I was going to do Brokeback Mountain and I had a contract with The Black Dahlia that I had to film, so I had to drop out of it."
His and Phoenix's roles were later portrayed by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, who were both nominated for Oscars.
Still, Hartnett shared his sadness over the missed opportunity, jokingly adding that he had "always wanted to kiss Joaquin."
This isn't the first time Hartnett has talked about his split from Hollywood. In a January 2020 interview with Variety, he revealed that he turned down two DC superhero roles after he was shortlisted to star as Batman in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Clark Kent in the 2006 film Superman Returns.
"There were a lot of powers that be that wanted me to pursue those films, but I have always been interested in stories about people and I didn't want to be boxed into that superhero type," he told the UK newspaper Metro in November 2020. "At that age it is very easy to become someone else's tool or someone else's puppet. I was very aware of the choices I was making and I wanted them to be my choices."
Since then, the 42-year-old actor has explored roles in film and television including Paradise Lost, Die Hart, and most recently Ira Red.
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