In an interview with Playboy, the 36-year-old actor said the decision had a detrimental effect on his career.
“I’ve definitely said no to some of the wrong people,” he said. “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 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.”
In the same year that The Prestige was released, Hartnett was starring in Lucky Number Slevin and The Black Dahlia, neither of which were commercial hits. Hartnett admits that his decision not to work with Nolan still stings.
“That’s when I realised 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,” he said. “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 has previously spoken about turning down Spider-man and Superman, saying he “saw the danger” of being typecast at a young age.
He’s most recently been starring in the gothic TV drama Penny Dreadful and will next be seen alongside James Franco and Robert Duvall in Wild Horses. He confesses that he’s still unsure of his place in the industry.
“I’m curious to see what people want of me in this business, if anything,” he said. “Last year my favourite films were Birdman and Frank. Fellini’s 8½ is my favorite film. If at some point I can get away with doing something remotely as cool as those, or anything Federico Fellini ever touched, I’ll be very happy.”
This article was written by Benjamin Lee, for theguardian.com on Friday 17th April 2015 14.30 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010