The Iconic DC Role That Josh Hartnett Regrets Passing On

Batman is one of those iconic roles that carries its own mysteries and mystique. Those lucky (or unlucky, depending on who you ask) few to have donned the cape have seen their lives as well as their career trajectories forever linked to the character. From the game-changing performance of Michael Keaton in 1989's "Batman," to Christian Bale's successful run in Christopher Nolan's heralded "The Dark Knight" trilogy, there's been no shortage of talent to take up the mantle.

Throughout the Caped Crusader's storied media history, there has been a special group of people relegated to the missed opportunities column, full of those who either didn't take the job or just missed winning the part. It's a notable list that dates back to Batman's '60s TV series and resonates today. While some actors have gone on record about being considered for the role, others have been less forthcoming about whether they were ever in consideration. Now, one well-known actor is setting the record straight on his regrets about saying no to the role of Batman.

Hartnett passed on playing Batman for Christopher Nolan

Josh Hartnett quickly became one of the top names mentioned when 2005's "Batman Begins" was announced. Before being up for the part, the actor amassed an extensive list of credits. With titles like "Pearl Harbor," "The Virgin Suicides," and "Black Hawk Down" on his resume, Hartnett became one of the industry's most sought out names. Years after the fact, Hartnett is now more introspective about the decision he made to take his name out of the running.

"I've definitely said no to some of the wrong people," he said during a Playboy interview, via The Guardian. "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." Hartnett got his start in Hollywood early, with movies like 1998's "The Faculty" and 2001's "Pearl Harbor" making him a big name and certified heartthrob. But Hartnett clearly needed a break from all of the attention, which directly played into his decision on "Batman Begins."

Elaborating on his past choice, Hartnett stated, "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."

Important industry relationships were formed in the first film's "fire"

Time has changed Josh Hartnett's perspective on the role, now knowing what it would have meant for his career. Initially, the actor expressed concern for what was a rapidly growing filmography. "I was so focused on not being pigeonholed and so scared of being considered only one thing as an actor," Hartnett continued in his Playboy interview, retrospectively declaring, "I should have thought, 'Well, then, work harder, man.' ... [Christian Bale has] been able to overcome that. Why couldn't I see that at the time?"

One element that seems to peak the actor's curiosity years later is the prospect of working with Christopher Nolan. When Hartnett was offered the role of Batman, the filmmaker was still garnering attention for his groundbreaking film "Memento" and looked poised to do the same with "Batman Begins." The possibilities of a potential partnership with Nolan only hit the actor well after the first film in "The Dark Knight" trilogy was released. 

Hindsight is always 20-20, but Hartnett realized that key industry and creative "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." Who knows though, maybe someday soon Hartnett will finally get to work with Nolan.