Hartnett Explains Passing On “Batman Begins”

Over a decade ago, rising filmmaker Christopher Nolan was coming off the success of “Memento” and “Insomnia” and was put in charge of reviving Warner Brothers’ languishing Batman franchise.

That resulted in 2005’s “Batman Begins,” a film which effectively established how to do an origin story right and a formula that was quickly copied in subsequent years. At one time in the casting stages, three names kept being mentioned for potential candidates – Josh Hartnett, Christian Bale and Cillian Murphy.

Christian Bale of course eventually won the part. Murphy didn’t get selected but remained involved in the role of the secondary villain Dr. Jonathan Crane (aka. The Scarecrow).

And Hartnett? Having already said no to Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” and later Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns,” he also passed on Nolan’s film – a decision he’s recently revealed he regrets.

In a new interview with the Associated Press, Hartnett clarified that he turned it down not because of an aversion to blockbusters but he wanted to embrace films he preferred making:

“I would welcome the opportunity to be in a relationship with a great artist in our film culture, no matter where they’re making films. In that instance, I think my regret mostly was not forming the friendship or the creative partnership with that director, more than it was [not] doing ‘Batman.’

It wasn’t about not doing studio films. At the time, what I was interested in was…the film that I did instead of that was a tiny film about a guy with Asperger’s Syndrome, falling in love with a woman with Asperger’s Syndrome. It was a true story [called] ‘Mozart And The Whale.’ It was more a question of what I wanted to do as opposed to what I didn’t want to do, and I always try to look at things that way.”

Hartnett ultimately seems in a better place about the decision now than he was a few years ago. Check out the quote in video form below: