Josh Hartnett Clarifies His Earlier Interview About Batman and Superman Offers


It wasn’t too long ago that Josh Hartnett, current star of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful spoke with Playboy about his regrets on not taking the roles of Batman and Superman. The news sites took that as apparently he wished he played the roles and now the actor wants to clarify those comments in a new interview with USA Today.

Playboy comments:

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?

Did you find yourself sitting in movie theaters, watching, say, Christian Bale, Brandon Routh or Tobey Maguire in their Batman, Superman or Spider-Man flicks, thinking, This wouldn’t have been such a bad thing for me to do after all?

Yeah, I have, for sure. I know now that I wouldn’t turn something down just because it’s a superhero role. I was born in the era of Michael Keaton playing Batman. That is Batman to me. He’s awe-inspiring in that role—so quiet, like a ghost, and then every once in a while this incredible thing just pops up in him. It was such a cool performance, especially since he’d been known for such big, broad performances.

When you and Ben Affleck were co-starring in Pearl Harbor, could you possibly have imagined a universe in which he would be starring in a Superman movie?

In what universe does Ben Affleck win an Academy Award for a best picture he starred in and directed? I knew he had it in him to do whatever he wanted to do. Ben has always been the smartest guy, but he holds that in reserve for some reason.

USA TODAY comment:

“I always regret being honest about certain things. The way they come out and get decontextualized makes it sound like a boast. In that particular situation, it wasn’t what we were talking about at all. We were talking about, at that particular time in my life, do I regret anything in particular? He was talking specifically about Superman at that point. I said no, I don’t regret it. I regret some of the relationships I could have formed that I didn’t form.

And I said, for example, I was really interested in this movie that Christopher Nolan’s brother wrote and it’s called The Prestige. I went and had a meeting with them. Warner Brothers wanted me to talk about Batman. I wanted to talk about The Prestige. I don’t read my own press as much as possible. I just kind of — you have to be cautious about how you put certain things.

To set the record straight, in a nutshell, it was about relationships I wish I’d formed but because of my fear of the concept of being one thing in my career and one thing only, I decided I would just stay away from that one aspect. That was only part of what I was doing at the time.”

Eric Curto
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