In the early 2000s, Josh Hartnett was everywhere. After appearing in Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor, he achieved heartthrob status and was considered a hot commodity. He was wanted for multiple big-budget projects, including a few superhero films. In 2002, we got Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, in 2005 Christopher Nolan rebooted the Batman franchise with Batman Begins, and in 2006 Bryan Singer followed suit with Superman Returns. Did you know Josh Hartnett was offered the title role in all of them?
According to an interview with Details magazine, Hartnett says, "Spider-Man was something we talked about. Batman was another one. But I somehow knew those roles had potential to define me, and I didn't want that. I didn't want to be labeled as Superman for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger."
Most 20-somethings would have jumped at the chance to play a legendary superhero, but not Hartnett. That's not where his heart was, and it caused disruption among his creative team.
"I didn't have those agents for much longer after that," Hartnett reveals. "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."
To be fair, we think he made the right choice. Superman Returns isn't exactly a favorite among fans. Batman Begins definitely wasn't meant to be, and Spider-Man seemed like an odd fit. Thankfully, Hartnett is returning to the spotlight in a project he's completely on board with. The actor stars in the new Showtime thriller Penny Dreadful. The series debuts May 11 at 10 p.m. and co-stars Timothy Dalton and Eva Green.
Do you think Hartnett made the right choice? Could he have played Batman, Superman or Spider-Man?