Josh Hartnett is over talking about the exit he took from Hollywood at the height of his stardom, but he will tell you how much enjoyed spoofing Hollywood stars in his new action film, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre.
“It's a lot of fun to be able to make fun of, or kind of just have fun with something that you're related to and you know a lot about,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment about his role in the film. Hartnett portrays the movie industry’s biggest action star, Danny Francesco, who’s blackmailed into helping a team of spies led by Jason Statham take down a billionaire arms deal (and mega-Francesco fan) played by Hugh Grant.
“I've never met anyone quite as narcissistic, maybe sociopathic, and bonkers as Danny in this industry. But there are stories of people and I've met some people that are close It is fun to make fun of. And I think it's also people's perceptions of actors that you wanna play with … how people see us.”
He adds, laughing, “I mean, everybody hates actors. We're the worst.”
Harnett’s own relationship with celebrity has been a point of fascination in the media for years — ever since the Pearl Harbor star turned down multiple superhero roles and eschewed Hollywood life in the mid 2000s, moving back to his home state of Minnesota and then London, where he has raised a family and focused on artier, more intimate projects.
“I've been talking about this sort of moment in my life for 15 years now, and just like every time I talk about it, it gets more muddled in the press and I feel like I kind of have said everything I can say about it,” says Hartnett, 44.
“This has always been an industry full of opportunity and I've been extremely lucky to have 25 years in this business and make great films with really interesting directors and be able to play a bunch of disparate characters. And I'm really happy to be working with the people I'm working with right now. I find it remarkable and very lucky that I'm here after 25 years. It's bizarre. I never actually planned on this being a career, necessarily. It's now my life.”
Hartnett never stopped acting, but he has been more visible since co-starring on the Showtime series Penny Dreadful from 2014 to 2016.
One of his current favorite collaborators is Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes), who wrote a last-minute role for Hartnett in 2021’s Wrath of Man and recruited the actor again for Operation Fortune.
Ritchie, Hartnett says, has one of the loosest approaches to writing and directing he’s ever witnessed.
“All of the dialogue changed when we were on set, and a lot of the scenes as well,” he says. “I think this is the way Guy likes to work, and I like to work that way, too … Hugh and I talked about this in a couple interviews. It gives us less time to sort of sweat and be freaked out about the end product because we have no idea what we're gonna shoot. So we just have to kind of go with it, [and] works out. The dialogue in the film is 90% different from what's on the page in the script. What I really love about Guy [is that] he’s right to do this because it's a visual medium. You read a script and it looks great on the page, but if you get it up on its feet and it's not working, we'll change it. There's no shame in that.”
Operation Fortune is now playing.
Watch the trailer: