Josh Hartnett Heads to Wicker Park.There was a time when Josh Hartnett was on the road to superstardom thanks to Pearl Harbor, but these days, this most reluctant of Hollywood stars prefers to take on films that are small but interesting, from Wicker Park, which opens Friday, to the upcoming Mozart and the Whale, about which he is passionate, as he told PAUL FISCHER.
Josh Hartnett has never been keen to talk to the press. Shy and quietly spoken, Hartnett is the opposite of a Hollywood star, refusing to live here in the City of Angels, Hartnett still calls Minnesota home, and says it gives the actor, currently starring in the offbeat romantic drama Wicker Park, a different perspective of live in Hollywood. "I'm not so caught up in the daily process of self congratulations that we have out here. I don't read Daily Variety and I'm not up on who's making how much money on what project. I think almost everybody who has spent enough time out here gets caught up in that trap of wanting to be the biggest, wanting to be making the most, or wanting to be the most respected. You think that if you are the best actor, you deserve the most or if you are the biggest star, you deserve the most and that race isn't important to me. I just want to make good films on my own wherever I can, so it's been the healthiest thing for me to get away from all this."
For Hartnett, life is about his family and being very selective about the films he chooses. He turned down the chance to play Superman, insisting that kind of film holds no interest to him, preferring to appear in character-driven movies, such as the upcoming Mozart and the Whale, or Wicker Park, films that offer a distinct balance between mainstream Hollywood and true independence. "I just want to do things my way, which is really hard to do when you're doing the common fare in the big studio movies. It's like you're kind of a spoke in the wheel at that point, which just didn't mesh with my style of doing things, so I just took a step back and decided to not do those type of movies anymore, turned a few down and just let people know that I was looking for other types of things, like Mozart."
And Wicker Park, in which he plays a photographer who loses the love of his life, while pursued by a young woman obsessed with him. Based on the French hit L'Appartement, Hartnett has been passionate about doing this film for quite some time. "I really wanted to work with director Paul McGuigan and I liked the original movie. I was passionate about it because the movie was all about passion, which I just felt I could understand. I thought it was a cool, different kind of movie that hadn't been made like this in a long time." Hartnett coyly admits that in his own life he has experienced obsessive love, though not to the extent that is experienced in this film. "I think what the movie is about is this fine line between love and obsession. I think that love, true love or whatever they call it, is just requited obsession. If you look at what you do when you're first in love with someone then it's always pretty ridiculous and it is a little bit obsessive. I think everybody experiences some of that in their life." Hartnett shyly adds that he hasn't done too much, embarrassingly, in order to get someone's attention, at least not while sober. "Come on, you do more embarrassing things when you're drunk and let's face it, when you're meeting people a lot of the time, you end up meeting people in situations where everybody is well lubricated." Not that Josh is a bad drunk of course. "No, I have fun. I think I'm too good a drunk to tell you the truth, but people like me better when I'm drunk, which is not good."
Hartnett is fiercely passionate about Mozart and the Whale, in which he stars opposite Australia's Radha Mitchell in a story about autism. "Playing a man with autism is a difficult challenge, but playing anybody who is going to represent in a way the average person's idea of what people with this specific disorder or whatever might have is a hue challenge because it has to be right on. I just always ask this woman psychologist who we had with us every day, 'Am I diagnosable? Am I in the right spot?' And aside from that, just trying to create the character in the midst of this love story. This is a true story about him meeting his wife and was a big responsibility." Hartnett adds that it was a draining role, but his most rewarding thus far. "It gave so much back, but I don't know how to explain it. I don't know if you have ever had a deadline or something you had to meet on a story that you really were involved in, you really didn't want to let it end, and you were working 20 hours a day just to finish it in time, so it's draining but at the same time, it's so rewarding that you don't feel like you missed that time when it's over."
Though Hartnett resists the movie star tag by deliberately working on smaller projects, the fact that he still remains one, is a mystery to the actor. "I guess I try not to look at it as am I a movie star or anything. It's such a quick cycle that has a half life of about 10 minutes, and I'm not beholden to it. As long as I can keep making movies that I want to make, I'll be happy."
WICKER PARK OPENS IN DECEMBER.