Was Josh Hartnett Really Offered Batman?

josh hartness

Penny Dreadful

Josh Hartnett’s career has been through many ups and downs, but it seems he has now settled into a groove with the success of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. However, in recent weeks, he has been forced to revisit a decade-old regret involving Christopher Nolan.

In an interview with Playboy, Hartnett explained that he wanted a role in Nolan’s The Prestige, but lost his chance when he refused to star in Batman Begins. “People don’t like being told no,” he said. “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 at the time [Scarlett Johansson].”

In a new interview with USA Today, Hartnett addressed the controversy that stemmed from these comments. He stood by the Playboy interview, blaming the backlash on misleading blog posts, but complicated matters in his re-telling of the story. “I went and had a meeting with them,” he said, referring to Christopher Nolan and his screenwriter brother Jonathan. “Warner Brothers wanted me to talk about Batman. I wanted to talk about The Prestige.”

In other words, it was Warner Brothers that was courting Hartnett for Batman Begins, not Nolan. The studio might have ultimately persuaded Nolan to cast the actor, but it doesn’t seem it got that far, as he backed off after that first meeting. If this breakdown is accurate (at this point, it’s more of an educated guess), it’s a giant stretch for Hartnett to suggest that both Batman Begins and The Prestige could have been his. Whatever the case, we’re not expecting a Nolan-Hartnett collaboration any time soon.