In 2001, at 22, Josh Hartnett was supposed to become the next Leonardo DiCaprio or Matt Damon. His role in Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor catapulted him onto the A-list.
He appeared in many magazine covers, the paparazzi stalked his personal life and directors pursued him for blockbusters and comic-book vehicles. But it was too much.
Instead of studio projects, Hartnett spent the rest of his 20s veering toward independent movies — such as “Wicker Park,” “Lucky Number Slevin” and “The Black Dahlia.” He turned down the role of Superman in Bryan Singer’s 2006 reboot and he was on Christopher Nolan’s short list to play Batman (before Christian Bale).
Then he seemed to fall off the public radar.
His latest role is in “Inherit the Viper” (now in theaters in limited release), a drama about a family grappling with the opioid crisis.
Hartnett spoke to Variety by phone from London, where he lives part time. “We have a place in the States, too, and we go back and forth,” Hartnett said. “My partner” — the actress Tamsin Egerton — “is English. When we started having children, she wanted to be near her family, so we’re here a lot of the time to make that happen.”
“All those magazine covers and paparazzi and all that sort of stuff was not at all how I lived my life, and not at all who I thought myself to be. So I feel very much myself now, and I took steps to make my life not as crazy after that movie came out and was successful at it and have remained sort of outside of the fray. When I was younger, it was important to me to kind of figure out who I was, what I wanted for my life, how I wanted to create my life without so much scrutiny. I did that, and now I feel comfortable being who I am in the spotlight if I need to be.