The Norman Transcript

Features

May 11, 2014

Josh Hartnett buys into TV, ‘Penny Dreadful’ series

LOS ANGELES — A big reason film actors are drawn to TV is that it offers the sort of character-driven projects found less and less in a movie world tilted toward blockbusters.

That’s partly why Josh Hartnett jumped into “Penny Dreadful,” an eight-part series debuting today on Showtime as part of a free preview weekend. He plays a troubled American, a gun for hire, ensnared by Victorian London’s dark side in the horror drama-cum-psychological study.

Hartnett also appreciated the guarantee that the project would be marketed and presented to an audience, something he’s become painfully aware isn’t always the case with independent films.

“I’ve had worthy films not get a correct release, and have people come up to me later and say how much they enjoyed the film,” seen after the fact online or on DVD, he said.

“It’s gratifying to know that people go back and see stuff,” he said. “But it would be more gratifying to be part of the cultural dialogue and (know) that it (a project) had an impact when it was released.”

Hartnett was in his early 20s when he made a splash in 2001 with two major Hollywood movies, “Pearl Harbor” and “Black Hawk Down,” part of a varied slate for him that year that included the Warren Beatty comedy “Town & Country” and “O,” a modern take on “Othello.”

“It’s really exciting to have a big movie release,” said Hartnett. “Everybody should be so lucky to have that experience. You feel like the whole world’s focused on you for a little while, and it’s overwhelming.”

The actor is seeking other rewards now, those he said that have “less to do with climbing the Hollywood ladder” and more to do with personal and professional growth.

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