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Josh Hartnett Says He Turned Down 'Superman Returns' As Well As Playing Spider-Man And Batman

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by Kevin Jagernauth
April 29, 2014 12:00 PM
8 Comments
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This spring Josh Hartnett returns to our collective consciousness in Showtime's "Penny Dreadful," and it has been a long time since we've seen him anything. The past four of five years has seen the actor drift with indies nobody saw ("Stuck Between Stations," "August," "Girl Walks Into A Bar"), genre fare that no one saw ("Bunraku," "I Come With The Rain") and troubled international blockbusters ("Singularity"). But perhaps his career might've been different, if he had made some different choices. 

In an interview with Details, the actor is up front about turning down some major roles, including Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns," early in his career. "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," he explained.

And to be fair, there is a kernel of truth to that. Christopher Reeve forever carried the Supes tag, Brandon Routh is still referred to as "that-guy-who-played-Superman," and right now, the only thing Henry Cavill can stake his name to is wearing the blue and red tights. But as you might guess, those around Hartnett in Hollywood didn't take kindly to his attitude.

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

However, at age 35, Harnett has mellowed a bit, and if Warner Bros. came to him again (theoretically) to play Superman, he'd take a different approach. "I'd say, 'Let's talk about how it would be done, see if we can get on the same page.' Compromise doesn't scare me anymore."

Sometimes, life lessons are learned the hard way, but Hartnett seems pretty level-headed about it all. "Penny Dreadful" kicks off on May 11th.

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8 Comments

  • Laurel | May 21, 2014 1:17 PMReply

    Honestly,i like Harnett as ana cotr but i don't think he would be a good Superman or Batman or Spider-man.

    And i think the comment about Cavill is a bit unfair.He does have Ritchie's Man From Uncle and he was offered many roles that he turned down because of MOS.Pretty sure he would be in more movie if WB would not occupy him for 2 mega-blockbusters filming back-to-back.

  • EVM | April 29, 2014 4:28 PMReply

    He wasn't up for SUPERMAN RETURNS, it was the aborted JJ Abrams SUPERMAN project that Hartnett was offered. Bryan Singer's movie was in production 9 years ago.Hartnett was 22, so that's 13 years ago, in 2001.That take was thrown out and after making X2,Singer came in to pitch his concept.

  • agtju | April 29, 2014 1:05 PMReply

    "talking about" Batman and Spider-man is a bit different then making it seem like he turned them down. He was probably on the same short list as every young "hot" actor that doesn't mean (aside from super man) every role was offered. just that him and his agents were approached

  • Skywater | April 29, 2014 12:19 PMReply

    Well of coarse he'd say yes now. His career at a different place. But i'm glad he said no to batman. Da guy who eventually said yes to that was fantastic.

  • Rob | April 29, 2014 12:12 PMReply

    i saw a few of those indies. i'd say I Come With the Rain is topnotch fare. Superman Returns? not so much. did anyone really enjoy that movie?

  • billwilder | April 29, 2014 1:02 PM

    I Come with the Rain is really good. Made me aware of Hartnett as an interesting actor

  • Rob | April 29, 2014 12:53 PM

    @Tristan Eldritch

    may i ask what was enjoyable about it besides the film being an exercise in nostalgia? the script was subpar, the story borderline incoherent and supremely stupid, the acting hammy, etc.

  • Tristan Eldritch | April 29, 2014 12:38 PM

    I did. And so did Quentin Tarantino. So two, at any rate.

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