Josh Hartnett dishes on why he turned down superhero roles to return to Minnesota

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Minnesota actor Josh Harnett is back in the spotlight, but this time he wants to be there.

The 35-year-old South High School graduate, starring in a new premium cable show, opened up in a wide ranging interview just published in Details magazine. In it, he explains that he turned down the lead role in the film "Superman Returns," and was in talks to play a number of other superheroes, including Spider-Man and Batman.

"But I somehow knew those roles had potential to define me, and I didn't want that," he said. "I didn't want to be labeled as Superman for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger."

The story also noted that after starring roles in Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down, he returned to Minnesota for a time. Hartnett said his success was disorienting.

"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—ended up getting back together with my high-school girlfriend for a while—and I didn't do any filming for 18 months. I'm still finding my way through all that."

Details of the Details interview have been picked up in the show biz and celebrity press. Us Magazine reprinted highlights from the article, with a "Look who's back!" intro line. The People magazine story is headlined "Josh Harnett opens up about his hiatus from Hollywood."

Hartnett is one of the stars of Showtime's Penny Dreadful, set to premiere on the network May 11. The Penny Dreadful website sets up the show like this: "Some of literature’s most terrifying characters, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and iconic figures from the novel Dracula are lurking in the darkest corners of Victorian London. Penny Dreadful is a frightening psychological thriller that weaves together these classic horror origin stories into a new adult drama."

The first episode is available to preview on the Showtime website, with the warning that it is for mature audiences and contains explicit scenes.

A review on the i09 website headlined "Our spoiler-free review of the first episode of Penny Dreadful" is favorable.

"If you enjoy a nice 19th-century gross-out, literary flourishes, or the supernatural, Penny Dreadful will probably provide," adding "Josh Hartnett's put to good use as a surly gunfighter."

The review notes that the narrative and special effects are not for the faint-hearted.

"While avoiding major spoilers, this is a land where corn-syrup blood flows freely, and if they can't find a way to corral a few handfuls of real bugs, they'll CGI hundreds."

The official Showtime trailer for the series is below.

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