Josh Hartnett Shares Why It Was Never His Intention to Be a Heartthrob

Josh Hartnett at the Vanity Fair x Saint Laurent x NBCUniversal "Oppenheimer" Film Toast held on March 8, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Alberto Rodriguez/WWD via Getty Images

Josh Hartnett stars in M. Night Shyamalan's 'Trap,' which releases Aug. 9, 2024.

Josh Hartnett didn't mean to become a heartthrob.

In a new interview with Variety, the 45-year-old actor revealed that his only intention was to be a serious actor. 

"It was never my intention to be a heartthrob," he says.

Hartnett stole hearts starring in movies like Halloween H20, The Faculty, The Virgin Suicides, Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down. But he didn't care if people found him swoonworthy, only that they would take him seriously.

"It had an effect on me, in which I had to fight against it. I really wanted to be a serious actor. What I didn't understand is that I was in an amazing position, working with terrific directors on terrific projects," he says. "For all intents and purposes, it didn't matter how people viewed me in tabloids or whatever — as long as I was working within the industry. But I was too young to really understand that, to make the differentiation."

Josh Hartnett for 'Variety.' - Dan Doperalski for Variety

He continued, "To me, the world had seen me as a thing that I didn't feel like inside. I wanted to rectify that." 

Flash forward decades later from his early acting days and Hartnett is still a heartthrob. But, he's also a very serious actor, having recently taken on heavy roles. For example, he played an astronaut facing an unfathomable tragedy in episode three of season 6 of Black Mirror, a physicist in Oppenheimer, and will portray a serial killer in M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming Trap.

Aside from his and wife Tamsin Egerton's rare red carpet appearance in March as they stepped out for a pre-Oscars party, Hartnett keeps his life private. He focuses on his family and projects he's passionate about. 

"My relationship with Hollywood is what it has always been -- just me doing the thing that I want to do and try to make sure that I can do it. It's difficult to make movies in this industry if you're trying to make personal films," Hartnett told ET in 2020. "Luckily, I have been able to come in contact, especially recently, with a lot of filmmakers and people that are on board with hiring me to play the kind of roles I want to play. So I've been kind of lucky these days."