Josh Hartnett: Reluctant StarThere is a key moment in Josh Hartnett's latest film, Hollywood Homicide, where Hartnett's character, cop K. C. Calden, finally admits to his veteran partner [Harrison Ford] that he'd rather be an actor than a cop. For Hartnett, the idea of having a career crisis is something the 24-year old Hollywood heartthrob can understand. Often publicity shy, Hartnett is far more relaxed this time around as he admits that one of the attractions of Hollywood Homicide was that "it was exactly what I was kinda feeling at the time", he confesses. "Everybody in their mid-twenties changes careers, or cities in which they live. They're like 'Who am I and what do I want to be when I grow up?' Nobody has any idea. I mean everybody always says that the thirties are easier, so we're in this constant state of flux, a little bit of internal turmoil. I just thought that this character was an absurd version of that."
Josh Hartnett/Hollywood Homicide Interview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.
Though it's hard to imagine Hartnett, currently at the peak of his success, willing to give up his acting career, but if he did, he says "probably go back to school for awhile and find something else to do even though now it seems a detriment to be a college grad. I always wanted to be a painter and if I had the means I might just hermit myself away and try and do that for awhile."
Meanwhile, this most reluctant of stars teams up with veteran Harrison Ford in the comedy thriller Hollywood Homicide. The young actor clearly found working with Ford a challenge because, as Hartnett laughingly concedes, "Harrison loves to fuck with your mind. When I first started, he has to the push everybody, has to test people, and that's his way of dealing with them because there are a lot of sick things out there, and he's being doing this forever. I don't think he suffers fools lightly, so he wants to make sure that you're not a fool, therefore he pushes your buttons for a long time, then eventually you just have to say Harrison, I'm going to kill you. By the end of it we ended up getting along really well."
Both actors try and avoid the whole Hollywood scene, as much as possible. It's easier for Hartnett, who still refuses to live in Los Angeles, preferring the safety net of Minnesota, where his family and long-time girlfriend, all reside. Hartnett clearly despises LA, as a city that he says is "geared more towards celebrities, like everybody's way too affected to care. I mean, if God himself could walk down the street here, people would be like: yeah he's so out there." Staying put in Minnesota is one thing that keeps the actor grounded, as well as his friends and family. "I was raised to think for myself and try not to get caught up in things, so I guess I'm just trying to find my way." That includes ignoring much that is written about him, including the whole sex symbol tag. "It's totally flattering to have people think that you're attractive physically, but I don't know man. In order to keep perspective I just try to really evaluate what matters to me at any given time." Including an attempt at a forging a normal relationship with his long-time girlfriend who is equally contemptuous of Hollywood and all that it represents. "Relationships are hard anyway and when you throw in that you're travelling three-quarters of the year, it's just not easy," says Hartnett. "The celebrity aspect is it makes the person that you're with crazy because they always assume that you cheat. She said recently that 'I have this vision of you when you go off, just surrounded by these Amazonian beauties that are like just throwing themselves at you. I know you're a good guy but I don't know if you're strong enough for that.' "
Josh says that he has to assure her that life as a Hollywood star is not quite like that. "The thing is that we both know that this is crazy and that it's going to be incredibly hard, so we're just trying to work through it." Hartnett will be premiering Hollywood Homicide back home, and does make a conscious effort to retain a level of normalcy. Fame came to him suddenly with the blockbuster hit Pearl Harbor, and he walked away from Superman, a role that could have ascended the actor to the next level. As successful as Hartnett is, he remains unsure as to how much he craves fame and all that comes with it. "I don't know what I want to do, except that I know I want to do good roles. I want to be a good actor whether the movies are big or small; t doesn't matter. There was a point where I was terrified of fame, but I don't see the next tier. I don't see where it's any harder to walk down the street than it already is. I didn't think it would get any worse after The Faculty, when people recognized me. Then there's another level, and there may be another level. I don't know how I'll deal with it if I go that route." That is, if he's not there already.
HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE opens on August 14.