Why Josh Hartnett Quit Hollywood and Moved Back to Minnesota

The actor reveals he once turned down Superman, Batman and Spider-Man films.

ByABC News
April 30, 2014, 12:28 PM

April 30, 2014 — -- Josh Hartnett is 35 now and mostly acts in indie films, but he was a hot commodity back in the early 2000s, and almost every big picture wanted him in the lead.

"Spider-Man was something we talked about. Batman was another one. But I somehow knew those roles had potential to define me, and I didn't want that," he told Details magazine of passing on the iconic characters.

He also passed on 2006's "Superman Returns."

"I didn't want to be labeled as Superman for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger."

Hartnett admits that he and his agents even parted ways after passing on such projects.

"I didn't have those agents for much longer after that,” he said. “There was a lot of infighting between my manager and agents, trying to figure out who to put the blame on. It got to the point where none of us were able to work together.”

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Indeed, Hartnett got so sick of fame in his 20s that he moved back to his home in Minnesota.

"I was on the cover of every magazine. I couldn't really go anywhere. I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin. I was alone," he said. "I didn't trust anyone. So I went back to Minnesota and got back together with my old friends — ended up getting back together with my high-school girlfriend for a while — and I didn't do any filming for 18 months. I'm still finding my way through all that."

Now, things are a bit tougher and not every audition goes his way.

"I still get offered films and TV roles, luckily, but years ago, if I saw a role I wanted, there was a good chance I could grab it," he added. "When I see a role now, I've got to fight for it. It's not bad. It's actually more rewarding. Depressing when something doesn't go your way, but only for a minute."

Hartnett also shunned the idea that he's a ladies’ man in any way.

“If you're a ladies' man, that's what you do with your life, always chasing,” he said. “That's never been the case with me. I've always just wanted a relationship. Otherwise there's nothing. The scene can eat you up. It's eaten up enough of my life already.”

Hartnett is set to star in a new Showtime series called "Penny Dreadful," alongside Eva Green.