LOS ANGELES —
“I thought if you’re doing interesting work, interesting people will want to work with you. So far, I’ve been lucky enough to have that happen,” said Hartnett, who offers carefully chosen words with a slow, low-pitched cadence.
One example: An upcoming sci-fi drama, “Parts Per Billion,” with veterans Frank Langella and Gena Rowlands in the cast.
But Hartnett’s profile was reduced as some films suffered spotty or delayed releases. His starring role in “Penny Dreadful” has put him squarely back in the publicity spotlight and, he says, has led to some media confusion.
“The narrative that’s been created over the last couple months is that I disappeared, and I was some hermit for the last few years and joined a cult or something,” he said. “It’s just crazy. ... I was doing work I thought was worthy.”
But he’s fine with the renewed attention. “Being 35 and not 18, I’m less susceptible to the negative aspects” — given the satisfactions of working on “Penny Dreadful.”
(It’s his second TV series, and after a long absence. He co-starred in “Cracker: Mind Over Matter” in 1997-99.)
The foremost attraction for Hartnett was working with creator-executive producer John Logan, a Tony Award-winner for “Red” and an Oscar-nominated screenwriter whose credits include “Gladiator,” “Hugo” and “Skyfall,” and executive producer Sam Mendes, the “American Beauty” Oscar-winning director.
The series they have wrought is an undeniable creepfest. Its title is drawn from the nickname for cheap, 19th-century publications that offered serialized tales of violence, death and general sensationalism.
Showtime’s version finds renowned and rich explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) and the mysterious Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) in the hunt for a monstrous killer. They recruit Harnett’s sharpshooter, Ethan Chandler, a man with a shrouded past, and one Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway).