There’s been plenty of rumours swirling around about Josh Hartnett, especially on the Internet, and he decided to clear things up for us: “I’ve not auditioned for Dawson’s Creek six times or whatever. I live in St. Paul, I was born in St. Paul and I spent my whole life in St. Paul basically. Went to school in Minneapolis South, not Richview. I’m 22 years old, not 48 or whatever”. Who is he dating? “Nobody”.
So how did he end up being cast in this WW2 Bruckheimer epic? It seems the script was passed on to his agent who advised him to take a look. He was unsure of doing it as he didn’t want to be in a war movie, or have fame on “this kind of level – seems kind of backward, I don’t think it really helps you develop as a person, but at the same time it really helps doing the right film…At the time I wanted to work, I wanted to do something, I’d taken four months off and this was the thing that was probably scariest to me. So I chose this, to prove to myself I could get through it”.
He worked on “Town & Country” almost two years ago and heard it had come out to which he was surprised. He has yet to see it, and despite being listed in its credits as Joshua, he’s always wanted to be referred to as Josh. He was also slated to be in “Harvard Man” with Sarah Michelle Gellar at one point but dropped out to do “Pearl Harbor”.
How did it feel to shoot a tommy gun in “Pearl Harbor”? “It was…I don’t know, I don’t like guns man – you know”. That begged the question would he ever join the military? “I’d never be in the military, I just…I couldn’t do it, it’s not me. We went to boot camp for four days and at the end of it I wanted to…hurt some authority figure really badly…at the same time the respect that I have for them is great cause I could never do it”. Hartnett spent around six weeks in Hawaii shooting his scenes.
So does his character of Danny Walker reflect the real Josh Hartnett in any way? “Danny Walker is not me, by any means – I wanted Danny to be like a, kind of a foetal version of me – like a newborn version…very innocent, very vulnerable and very sweet and idealistic”. Did he, Ben, Kate or any of the others mingle off-screen? “We had a couple of barbecues and stuff, I mean we had to release a little steam after going to war all day”.
Was his opinion of the attack changed by the making of this movie? “When I found out I was doing this film, I read a couple of books and ended up just…it was meeting the survivors that made the character come together and made me understand the whole thing a lot better. That was the big thing, so yeah my perception of the whole thing changed dramatically…the thing that stuck in my mind most was that after sixty years the way they still cried about it”.
Hartnett’s great uncle was in D-Day, and went all the way to the Battle of the Bulge. He lived through it all and wrote letters back about it during the incidents which Josh read before doing the movie. On the flipside, his grandfather was stationed in Italy & North Africa and so stayed way behind the lines a lot of the time.
He did boot camp for both this and “Black Hawk Down” and hated it, why was that? “Boot camp they break you down, they try and make you realise you’re absolutely nothing and worth nothing and then they’re supposed to build you back up, unfortunately we were only there for about five days – they didn’t have time to build us back up so we left feeling about as low as you possibly could”. He also says that real life Army rangers who took the course with them said the four days they all did was the hardest time they had ever went through as well.
The buzz cut and well-tanned Hartnett is currently three and a half months into working on “Black Hawk Down”, which he describes as “a big budget, insanely documentary style drama”, and will be in Morocco for another month and a half completing it. In the movie he plays Army Ranger Matt Everson whose in charge of a mission that lead to increasing tension between US/UN forces and local warlords in Mogadishu, Somalia early last decade. He describes the film as “a morality tale about where do we start and where do we end being the police of the world”.