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Home / Hollywood / Meet Josh Hartnett, the one-time star who turned down offers to play Superman, Batman, Spider-Man

Meet Josh Hartnett, the one-time star who turned down offers to play Superman, Batman, Spider-Man

At the peak of his popularity in the early 2000s, Josh Hartnett was in talks to play Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, but he went in a different direction altogether.

hollywood Updated: Jul 24, 2020, 17:04 IST
HT Entertainment Desk
HT Entertainment Desk
Hindustan Times
Josh Hartnett in a still from The Black Dahlia.
Josh Hartnett in a still from The Black Dahlia.

Josh Hartnett was a Hollywood heartthrob. After starring in back-to-back hits Black Hawk Down and Pearl Harbor (in the same year), the actor was pegged as the next big star. Offers to play superheroes came in, but the actor, in an interesting move, turned his back on all of them, choosing instead to appear in smaller films over the next decade.

In fact, he became intrinsically linked to Hollywood infamy after it was reported that he turned down offers to play Superman, Batman and Spider-Man. But it’s a little more complicated than that.

In an interview to Variety earlier this year, Hartnett said that the only outright offer he received was for Superman Returns, directed by Brian Singer and eventually starring Brandon Routh. While he met with Christopher Nolan, he wasn’t offered technically offered the role of Batman in Batman Begins. Christian Bale was eventually cast. As for Spider-Man, Hartnett said that it was fake news.

Also read: The real reason why Andrew Garfield was fired as Spider-Man, replaced by Tom Holland

“I didn’t turn down Spider-Man. I don’t know where that came from,” he said. “I’d only turned down Superman as a straight-up offer. But I was, at that time of my career, where a lot of people were asking me to do those types of movies. I was having meetings with those directors and people were saying: ‘Would you be interested?’ I talked to them about what they were doing and I ultimately decided I wasn’t, but that was a very privileged place for a young man to be in. I’m a little bit outside of the box and had the leverage to do that, and that’s the direction I chose.”

He stated unequivocally that he wasn’t offered Batman. “No, Batman wasn’t an audition or an offer. It was a conversation with the director [Christopher Nolan]. I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there. When you say one thing one time about it, and now it gets blown up. But I don’t really care to tell that story over and over again.”

But in 2014, the actor had told Details magazine, “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.” He’d added, “I didn’t want to be labeled as Superman for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger.”

Also read: The real reason why Christopher Nolan never returned to direct 4th Batman film; Christian Bale was told his ‘services were no longer required’

Hartnett said that his team didn’t take kindly to his career path. “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,” he said.

The actor made a comeback of sorts with the successful Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and will be seen in Guy Ritchie’s upcoming Cash Truck next year.

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