It didn't take long for Josh Hartnett to find success in Hollywood, and whether fans know it or not, he's been working steadily since then.
The actor, now 41, burst onto the scene in 1997 with the short-lived television series "Cracker: Mind Over Murder," which led to high-profile roles in "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later" and "The Virgin Suicides," eventually starring in blockbusters like "Pearl Harbor" and "O."
After years as a leading man, Hartnett seemed to disappear — at least from mainstream movies.
"The story is that I'm some recluse or malcontent or something," Hartnett told Entertainment Tonight. "But I never felt that way… I was never inactive, I was just doing other things."
Josh Hartnett (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Hartnett recalled not wanting to take on the projects he was being offered.
"I think when I was younger, I was fighting against a concept I had of myself within the industry, and I didn't feel like the movies that I wanted to do I was being offered – and then the movies that I was being offered, I couldn't do those either because I wanted to maintain my integrity," he recalled.
So Hartnett decided to take things into his own hands.
"So I started to produce my own films and I did smaller independent projects," said the "Black Dahlia" star. "People took that as me throwing away a career or something, but it wasn't that at all, in my opinion. It was me just sort of finding myself."
The actor said he is proud of himself for taking time to find his voice and "trying to make something of myself that wasn't just set up for me."
Josh Hartnett and wife Tamsin Egerton attend a dinner to celebrate The Prince’s Trust, hosted by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace on March 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
"I did take some time off, but I mostly took some time off to do other things, like raise my children," added Hartnett. "I started to write a lot. I wrote a few scripts, wrote a few short music videos, and started producing."
He said that his relationship with Hollywood is the same now as it always has been, which means he's "doing the thing that I want to do."
"It's difficult to make movies in this industry if you're trying to make personal films. 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," Hartnett told Entertainment Tonight. "So I've been kind of lucky these days."
One of Hartnett's most recent film projects, the true story "Most Wanted," sees him star as a Canadian journalist investigating the story of an addict being set up in an espionage plot and imprisoned in a Thai prison.
Josh Hartnett at the UK Premiere of the film, ‘Pearl Harbor’ in 2001. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
"I'm from Minnesota, I'm from basically Canada, and I never heard anything about this," noted the actor. "This is such an interesting story of corruption and an obviously horrible thing that a young man went through. It just didn't crack into the news in the States at all. I was amazed at that, but then I met with the director and his passion for it was so evident and he's so full of energy."
The actor recalled meeting Victor Malarek, the real-life journalist he played as he prepared for the role. After meeting Malarek and spending some time with him, Hartnett remembered thinking, "I have to play this guy."
"I've played a few real-life people, and that pressure is there …," he told the outlet. "It's twofold: You want to be good to the person you're playing, but you don't want to be too good. You want to be honest."
Like many around the globe, Hartnett and his longtime partner Tamsin Egerton have been quarantining with their children.
"We're juggling a lot," he told the outlet, noting that the kids' homeschool curriculum hasn't been terribly difficult. "I feel lucky that we're able to just sort of enjoy our time together and not force them into these situations that are going to make the family dynamic sort of fall apart."