Josh Hartnett Only Turned Down This One Major Superhero Role, Not Three

Josh Hartnett in Penny Dreadful

Josh Hartnett’s career has always been a little unpredictable. At first, he took on some huge roles, in films like Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down. But he’s also consciously taken a step back from the spotlight. For years, there were rumors that he turned down three separate roles in major superhero franchises. But now he’s setting the record straight about one of the biggest misconceptions about his career -- and making it clear that he only turned down one.

With several projects set to be released, 2020 may end up being a big year for Josh Hartnett. And the actor spoke to Variety about his career thus far -- including the conscious choices he’s made to take on projects he’s passionate about. During the conversation, interviewer Ramin Setoodeh recounted a story he’d heard about the actor turning down the roles of Batman (in The Dark Knight Trilogy), Spider-Man (the Tobey Maguire version), and Superman (played, in that instance, by Brandon Routh). And Josh Hartnett had a surprising response:

I didn’t turn down Spider-Man. I don’t know where that came from. 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.

Ah, the Hollywood rumor mill. Josh Hartnett did clarify that he at least had a discussion about taking on the Bruce Wayne role that eventually went to Christian Bale. But it didn't go very far, and he made it clear that it really wasn’t a very important moment in his life:

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.

It should go without saying that Josh Hartnett’s career would have looked a lot different had he taken on any of these roles -- though, in some cases, it’s probably a good thing that he didn’t. Still, he seems to have no regrets about the way his career has turned out. It’s clear, by now, that he’s focusing on spending time with his family in London and seeking out projects that fit his idea of what his career should be.

Josh Hartnett does have several projects lined up for 2020, so keep up with everything heading to the big screen this year with our 2020 movie release date schedule.

Katherine Webb