Joshua Daniel Hartnett (born July 21, 1978) is an American actor and producer, best known for his heartthrob image in the early 2000s.
His early performances (namely, Trip Fontaine in The Virgin Suicides and Hugo in "O" as well as Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down) were well received by the critics, proving that despite his heartthrob image the guy was not just a pretty face. Sadly, he soon became every girl's celebrity crush and got swallowed up in the hype that brought in lame movies and lazy acting, culminating with the 2001 disaster Pearl Harbor.
Known for his 6-foot, 3-inch frame, deep voice and a prominent beauty mark on his neck, Hartnett was considered one of the main teen sex symbols (and one of the few reasons people actually went to see Pearl Harbor). He's also more famous for his relationships with celebrity beauties, such as Scarlett Johansson, than for his acting achievements.
After the hype has died out, Hartnett opted for a change in his career, turning to smaller, indie films or more serious directors. Some of these attempts proved to be huge flops (such as Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia), but he has landed several praised performances, such as in a little-known film, Mozart and the Whale, where he played a character with Asperger Syndrome, and in Lucky Number Slevin. Began to undergo a Career Resurrection as gunslinger Ethan Chandler on Penny Dreadful, followed by performances in studio films like Wrath of Man and Operation Fortune, both for Guy Ritchie, and Oppenheimer.
He is married to and has three children with English actress Tamsin Egerton (whom he has been in a relationship with since 2012).
His films include:
- Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998): John Tate
- The Faculty (1998): Zeke Tyler
- The Virgin Suicides (1999): Trip Fontaine
- Blow Dry (2001): Brian Allen
- Town And Country (2001): Tom Stoddard
- Pearl Harbor (2001): Danny Walker
- "O" (2001): Hugo Goulding
- Black Hawk Down (2001): Matt Eversmann
- 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002): Matt Sullivan
- Hollywood Homicide (2003): K. C. Calden
- Wicker Park (2004): Matthew Simon
- Sin City (2005): The Salesman
- Mozart and the Whale (2005): Donald Morton
- Lucky Number Slevin (2006): Slevin Kelevra
- The Black Dahlia (2006): Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert
- 30 Days of Night (2007): Eben Oleson
- August (2008): Tom Sterling
- I Come with the Rain (2009): Kline
- Bunraku (2010): The Drifter
- Die Hart (2020): Himself
- Wrath of Man (2021): Dave "Boy Sweat" Hancock
- Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (2022): Danny Francesco
- Black Mirror - "Beyond the Sea": David
- Oppenheimer (2023): Ernest Lawrence
His work provides examples of:
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: He's known for his fairly thick eyebrows.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: The reason Hartnett ultimately left Hollywood, by his own admission."I was on the cover of every magazine. I couldn't really go anywhere. I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin. I was alone."
- Doing It for the Art: He was never particularly enthused about the sex symbol niche people tried to shoehorn him into and the bland lead roles that came with that association. Rather than pursue mainstream success, he started turning to smaller indie roles that he found more interesting. In the 2020s he began tentatively moving back into the studio system, with supporting roles in two Guy Ritchie films and a Christopher Nolan film.
- Dull Surprise: His early acting style was often described as wooden and uninspired in his early films. His later roles were far more acclaimed as his acting evolved and he had more to work with.
- Hollywood Hype Machine: And a strong one indeed. He was called the Next Big Thing in the early 2000s, but he gradually vanished from the spotlight due to his increasing discomfort with fame and turned down major roles and today is known for smaller, indie films.
- I Am Not Spock: According to this interview from 2014, fear of this was the reason he turned down the roles of Superman, Batman and Spider-Man."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."
- Money, Dear Boy: Apparently, the only reason he agreed to do Pearl Harbor. That said, he later turned down a $10 million offer for Superman Returns.
- Mr. Fanservice: He was considered one of the main sex symbols aound the time Pearl Harbor came up, and movies such as Lucky Number Slevin, in which he spends a good amount of screen time wearing nothing but a towel, seem to exploit it.
- Old Shame:
- He seems to agree with 40 Days and 40 Nights being hailed as one of the most sexist, offensive sex "comedies" of all time.
- He doesn't seem terribly fond of Halloween H20.
- Shirtless Scene: Too many to count. 40 Days and 40 Nights feature several ones, and he spends good amount of screen time in Lucky Number Slevin wearing nothing but a towel.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Most of his movies invoke that he's 6-foot, 3-inch, dark, and handsome.
- Vocal Dissonance: Some people claimed his voice was too deep for his cute boy face.
- What Could Have Been: He was offered or considered for the roles of Batman, Superman and Spider-man at various times and was even offered ten million to play the lead in Superman Returns but turned it down as he didn't want to be associated with the role forever afterwards and he was growing disillusioned with major films and fame in general. He later claimed his only regret was turning down what would later become Heath Ledger's role in Brokeback Mountain which he was to star in alongside Joaquin Phoenix.