The 35-year-old actor skyrocketed to fame in the early 2000s with the success of such films as Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down. Labeled a Hollywood heartthrob, Harnett was offered career-defining roles like Superman and Batman before he slipped into obscurity by the end of the decade. In a new interview, he tells Details magazine that his retreat from stardom was on purpose.
"I was on the cover of every magazine. I couldn't really go anywhere," he recalls. "I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin. I was alone. I didn't trust anyone. So I went back to Minnesota and got back together with my old friends...and I didn't do any filming for 18 months."
The actor appears mainly in indie films these days, and says that when he sees a role now he has "to fight for it." The struggle for work is a significant change from "years ago" when "there was a good chance" he could land any part he liked.
"It's not bad," he says of the shift. "It's actually more rewarding. Depressing when something doesn't go your way, but only for a minute."
Harnett will next appear as Ethan Chandler in new Showtime series Penny Dreadful. The show is a period piece set in Victorian London, and brings literary characters like Dr. Frankenstein, his monster and Dorian Gray together.