Monthly Inspiration: Josh Hartnett
Monthly Inspiration is a blog series that’s about what inspires me; filmmakers, styles, actors, scripts… each month, I’ll cover one new piece of inspiration. Hopefully I can turn you on to something that will inspire you as well.
A few months ago I did a review of the super stylized, noir film Bunraku (widenmedia.com) starring Josh Hartnett (imdb.com). After watching it I dug through Hartnett’s IMDB page and I realized just how many roles I’ve really enjoyed him in. He’s a strong actor that can handle horror, comedy, action, and drama. But his views on the process of filmmaking are what I’m really inspired by.
He’s been in a ton of films that I turn to when I’m looking for inspiration. Most recently was Bunraku; but the list extends to 30 Days of Night (imdb.com), Lucky Number Slevin (imdb.com), Sin City (imdb.com), and Black Hawk Down (imdb.com). I’m a big comic book fan and both Sin City and 30 Days of Night are chalked full of style elements that I love; and growing up planning on joining the military meant that Black Hawk Down was a film I watched over and over. Story-wise Lucky Number Slevin is a huge influence on how I try to build relationships and Hartnett’s portrayal of Slevin Kelevra is an amazing example of performance informing character. The subtle nuances in his acting help foreshadow the twist ending.
I may have a soft spot in my heart for Josh Hartnett because he’s from San Francisco, but growing up he was a part of a handful of movies that have always remained in my top list. Two of the first horror films that my sister showed me (though maybe she shouldn’t have for a 10-year-old) were Halloween H20 (imdb.com) and The Faculty (imdb.com). These may not be the scariest or best films ever, but they iconize the 90’s for me. Add that to The Virgin Suicides (imdb.com) and carry it over to Pearl Harbor (imdb.com) and 40 Days and 40 Nights (imdb.com) and the late 90’s and early 2000’s were all about Hartnett.
Now, being a big name actor doesn’t necessarily make you inspirational; in fact it doesn’t. But back in May I came across an interview Hartnett gave Time, and in it he describes why he was “taking a break from Hollywood,” in his words “I love film. But I didn’t think that just because I wanted to be part of the narrative I would be more interesting to people.” I’ve been completely enveloping myself in the world of film for so long, and at the time that I saw this I was still in LA, and this line struck a chord with me. Since then I’ve tried to experience more of what life has to offer, and more importantly, I’ve begun listening to other people, I mean really listening and people watching; and as a result I’ve found myself more interested in the stories I’m telling rather than what camera I’m telling them with.
In the last few years Josh has really turned his attention toward indie filmmaking. And having a bigger name going back and looking at the art of filmmaking as more that just a job means that the really excellent stories being told on smaller budgets by new filmmakers may have a chance. “It’s either I was so disillusioned… that I ran away… or I was some punk who didn’t know how good he had it… And it’s neither of those; it’s that I tried to take a different path toward achieving good film.” Hopefully more A-List stars will get behind this mentality and really good cinema will be back on the rise.
Josh Hartnett has been a recurring name in the films that I enjoy, and he’s an extremely talented actor; but what’s most enticing about his story is that he more-or-less “divorced” Hollywood and has been working on some remarkable projects. He’s established enough to make a difference, and he’s young enough for it to really take effect. It’s a short clip, but you can see some of the Time interview here:
Monthly Inspiration: Josh Hartnett