Josh Hartnettand Ben Affleck have more in common than Kate Beckinsale: One of the actors is Batman and the other...was almost Batman.
In an interview with Playboy, posted on Thursday, Hartnett says Christopher Nolan talked to him about the part and that he "decided it wasn't for me." The actor, who had in the past mentioned that he was in talks about playing Batman, expresses regret that he didn't accept the role. The director has not commented.
The role went to Christian Bale, who played the caped crusader in Nolan's hit Dark Knight trilogy. Affleck makes his debut as Batman in Zack Snyder's upcoming film Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice.
After the two actors squabbled over Beckinsale in the cheesy 2001 box office smash Pearl Harbor, Hartnett joined Affleck on the Hollywood heartthrob list. He sent hearts a flutter with his portrayal of a hunky army man in Black Hawk Down and as Harrison Ford's police partner in Hollywood Homicide. And in the R-rated 40 Days and 40 Nights, he showed you don't even need physical contact to please a woman.
So it comes as no surprise that we now learn that Hartnett could have potentially said these iconic words:
In his interview with Playboy, Hartnett said the "intensity" of his "sudden fame" was "overwhelming" and that he "felt I couldn't trust any new person I met or their motives." He said he spent time back in his native Minnesota with friends and family and stopped acting for a while.
"I've definitely said no to some of the wrong people," he added. "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."
Hartnett has talked about almost playing Batman before. He told Details magazine in 2014 that he had been in talks to play the superhero as well as Spider-Man. The outlet said he also turned down Bryan Singer's 2006 film Superman Returns.
"But I somehow knew those roles had potential to define me, and I didn't want that," he told Details. "I didn't want to be labeled as Superman for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger."
Bale also starred in Nolan's movie The Prestige. The 2006 thriller also Scarlett Johansson, who dated Hartnett for about two years before they split in 2006.
"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," Hartnett told Playboy.
"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,'" he said. "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?"
He said that he now knows he "wouldn't turn something down just because it's a superhero role," adding, "I was born in the era of Michael Keaton playing Batman. That is Batman to me."
Over the past decade, Hartnett appeared in Sin City and several smaller films. He currently appears on the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, which is set in 19th century Victorian London and stars with James Franco in the movie Wild Horses, which premiered at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas in March.