A Frankly Heartbreaking Reason Hartnett Refused To Play Nolan's Batman

A Frankly Heartbreaking Reason Hartnett Refused To Play Nolan's Batman
Image credit: globallookpress

After starring in Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down in 2001, it seemed like Josh Hartnett was on his way to stardom. He had a chance to reach icon status by playing Batman in 2005's Batman Begins, but he turned it down. The reason, frankly, is heartbreaking.

Hartnett has pretty humble beginnings, moving from Saint Paul, MN to Los Angeles in search of stardom. His lucky break came on the critically acclaimed Cracker, which lasted only 16 episodes on ABC. That short-lived role led to his casting in the 1998 Halloween sequel, and suddenly, Hartnett became a growing name in Hollywood.

He was cast in Michael Bay's romantic war drama Pearl Harbor as Danny Walker, best friend to Ben Affleck 's lead character. Only seven months later, he was the starring role in Ridley Scott 's war film Black Hawk Down.

Within four years, he'd gone from a kid with a dream to star in two films that won a combined three Oscars in 2002, directed by two generational talents.

He quickly became overwhelmed.

In an interview with Playboy in 2015, Hartnett said that his sudden fame left him panicked.

"In the middle of that," he said, "I felt I couldn't trust any new person I met or their motives."

Over the next several years, he spent his career working on smaller-profile films, allowing him more time to spend with his family and friends.

Heath Ledger Swore He'd Never Star in Superhero Film; Here's What Changed His Mind

Around this time, Christopher Nolan was casting for the role of Bruce Wayne for Batman Begins – a film that spawned a trilogy often regarded as the best version of comic book cinema. According to Hartnett, Nolan found the young actor "incredibly cool and talented" – but his experience in the limelight was so overwhelming that he turned down the role. He also said he didn't want to be "pigeonholed" into superhero roles.

Since then, Harnett has realized his mistake and would be more "resilient" if he could do it over.

Nolan's career took off after Batman Begins, and he's notoriously had a small group of actors that have starred in several of his films. Relationships were formed between the cast and Nolan in Batman Begins, and turning down the chance to be in Nolan's first blockbuster cost Hartnett big.

Though he once feared the relationship might have soured for good, Hartnett finally got the chance to work with Nolan in the upcoming Oppenheimer. In the story about the creator of the atomic bomb, Hartnett will be playing Ernest Lawrence, inventor of the cyclotron.