Prior to Christian Bale, Josh Hartnett was Christopher Nolan's possible choice to play Batman.
Back at the time when Batman Begins was released, Hartnett was all the rage in Hollywood having come off Black Hawk Down and Pearl Harbor; however, instead of embracing his fame, the twenty-something year old actor chose to spend more time with his family and friends.
Now in an interview with Playboy, Hartnett explains turning down the Batman role, which cost him a role in The Prestige as well. Any fan of the Christopher Nolan movies knows the director likes to use the same actors throughout all his movies, so with Hartnett turning down Batman, Nolan went with Bale.
I’ve definitely said no to some of the wrong people. I said no because I was tired and wanted to spend more time with my friends and family. That’s frowned upon in this industry. People don’t like being told no. I don’t like it. I learned my lesson when [writer-director] Christopher Nolan and I talked about Batman. I decided it wasn’t for me. Then he didn’t want to put me in The Prestige. They not only hired their Batman for it, they also hired my girlfriend [Scarlett Johansson] at the time.
Hartnett goes on to discuss how he now feels things should have been different (Hartnett also turned down roles for Spider-Man and Superman).
That’s when I realized relationships were formed in the fire of that first Batman film and I should have been part of the relationship with this guy Nolan, who I felt was incredibly cool and very talented. I was so focused on not being pigeonholed and so scared of being considered only one thing as an actor. I should have thought, Well, then, work harder, man. Watching Christian Bale go on to do so many other things has been just awesome. I mean, he’s been able to overcome that. Why couldn’t I see that at the time?
Hartnett also says now he wouldn't turn down a superhero role.
Yeah, I have, for sure. I know now that I wouldn’t turn something down just because it’s a superhero role. I was born in the era of Michael Keaton playing Batman. That is Batman to me. He’s awe-inspiring in that role—so quiet, like a ghost, and then every once in a while this incredible thing just pops up in him. It was such a cool performance, especially since he’d been known for such big, broad performances.
Josh Hartnett stars in "Penny Dreadful" on Showtime.