The real reason Josh Hartnett suddenly disappeared from Hollywood

By Bronte Coy

Actor Josh Hartnett. Photo / Getty
Actor Josh Hartnett. Photo / Getty

In 2002, Josh Hartnett seemed to have it all.

The big-screen heart-throb was hot property after starring in Black Hawk Down and Pearl Harbor, he was named in People magazine's Most Beautiful People list, and posters of his face decorated the walls of teenage girls everywhere.

Fast-forward 15 years, and his name has pretty much become a nostalgia piece for the early 00s.

Actor Josh Hartnett poses for a portrait circa 1997 in Los Angeles, California. Photo / Getty
Actor Josh Hartnett poses for a portrait circa 1997 in Los Angeles, California. Photo / Getty

And it was those very features of his success that helped push Hartnett away from Hollywood, at a time when his career should have been thriving.

"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," he told Details in 2014.

"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."

If you head over to his IMDB, you'll see that in the past decade or so, Hartnett has certainly been very busy with work - although with only a few exceptions, that's largely just involved smaller-scale independent films.

So why did he turn his back on the mainstream?

Josh Hartnett and Tamsin Egertonon are seen in 2014 in New York City. Photo / Getty
Josh Hartnett and Tamsin Egertonon are seen in 2014 in New York City. Photo / Getty

The 38-year-old actor changed the course of his life when he turned down the roles of Spiderman (2002) the Dark Knight in Batman Begins (2005) and the lead in Superman Returns (2006).

Despite some recent successes - he received high praise for his role in horror TV series Penny Dreadful - it's a decision that clearly still haunts him.

"I've definitely said no to some of the wrong people. That's frowned upon in this industry. People don't like being told no," Hartnett told Playboy magazine in recent years.

"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 hired their Batman for it [Christian Bale]."

He added that he regretted letting his fears take over back then.

Josh Hartnett attends the 69th annual Directors Guild of America Awards on February, 2017. Photo / Getty
Josh Hartnett attends the 69th annual Directors Guild of America Awards on February, 2017. Photo / Getty

"I was so focused on not being pigeonholed and so scared of being considered only one thing as an actor ... 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? ... I know now that I wouldn't turn something down just because it's a superhero role."

Understandably, his agents weren't thrilled at the time.

"I didn't have those agents for much longer after that," he said.

"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."

Suddenly, the movie offers began drying up.

Photo-call of Pearl Harbor in Paris, 2001. Photo / Getty
Photo-call of Pearl Harbor in Paris, 2001. Photo / Getty

"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," he added.

"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."

- news.com.au

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