Josh Hartnett knows all too well how overwhelming Hollywood can be.
As you may know, the 43-year-old actor rose to fame after starring in films like Pearl Harbor, 40 Days and 40 Nights, and Black Hawk Down. Following the big name blockbusters, he was seemingly all set for a long career as a lead in the industry. But after his run in the early 2000s, he made a completely unexpected choice — he took a pause from Hollywood. Now, he’s opening up about why.
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During a rare interview with Australia’s Channel Seven morning show Sunrise on Wednesday, Hartnett shared that his decision to keep “Hollywood at bay” at the time ultimately was “the best thing from my mental health and my career.” Despite being at the top of his game, the star has absolutely no regrets about stepping back, as the decision to move towards more artistic roles came after he realized what mattered most in his life. He explained:
“Luckily I think I hit onto it early on in my life: 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.”
Speaking to The Project about why the spotlight was so harmful, he said:
“The industry itself was overwhelming for a 21-year-old kid. The press was a little different back then, there was paparazzi around every corner, you couldn’t go anywhere without being sort of harassed. And I decided I didn’t need that in my life.”
He famously turned down playing a superhero twice, first in Batman Begins and then Superman Returns.
However, the one thing he does regret from that time was backing out on the role of Ennis Del Mar in the award-winning 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, which he originally supposed to star opposite of Joaquin Phoenix. Hartnett sadly had to turn down the role due to scheduling conflicts, telling Sunrise:
“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.”
And as we all know, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal ended up taking over the roles. Still, the father of three confessed his disappointment over the situation, since he “always wanted to kiss Joaquin.” Ha!
Since then, Hartnett shifted his focus to more independent films, starring in Ida Red and Target Number One. He also appeared in Guy Ritchie’s Wrath of Man and took on the leading role for the horror drama series Penny Dreadful, which aired from 2014 to 2016 on Showtime. As he’s continued to work, he’s stayed away from Hollywood itself, living in Minnesota and now in London.
During his time away from the spotlight, he also got married and started a family with actress Tamsin Egerton. He told Yahoo Entertainment back in May:
“I didn’t really take any major hiatuses that were planned, I just had kids. I started doing smaller films, the films didn’t take me away from the kids very often.”
There is certainly nothing wrong with putting himself and his mental health first! Reactions to his confession, Perezcious readers? Let us know in the comments and check out more from Josh in his interview with The Project from earlier in the week (below).
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