Reading your own press can be disappointing when you expect it to be incorrect.
Such is the somewhat pleasant predicament for actor Josh Hartnett — plenty of Internet, TV and newspaper buzz following his career, but most of it, he laments, made up to lure readers.
“I’d say 99 per cent of the stuff that’s written about me is inaccurate,” Hartnett says during a recent interview in New York City.
“I could be sitting in a restaurant and there could be a famous girl on the other side of the restaurant who I’ve never met in my life and we’re having kids now. It’s always that way and they’re always wrong. Some of my best friends I’ve been hooked up with.”
Media accuracy is a timely topic for the actor, whose new film Resurrecting The Champ is set to punch its way into theatres today.
In the movie, loosely based on an article by L.A.-based reporter J.R. Moehringer, Hartnett plays sports reporter Erik Kernan, a down-on-his-luck writer desperate for a big scoop.
When he meets The Champ (Samuel L. Jackson), a former boxer who claims to be legendary fighter Bob Satterfield, Kernan thinks he’s found his big break. But he learns in painful terms just how damaging a rushed job can be for a journalist.
“It’s hard when you’ve seen articles written about yourself that are just so off and you’ve seen celebrity gossip encroach on the news media, the line between fiction and fact and gossip and fact is blurred,” Hartnett says when asked whether playing a journalist changed his view of the media.
So the short answer, then, is yes, playing a beat reporter did boost the 29-year-old’s respect for the journalists who cover his every move, but it also reaffirmed his view that the media needs to be held accountable for its coverage.
It’s a perspective few actors are afforded and Hartnett says he now understands why mistakes are made before stories find their way into papers.
“Basically the Internet right now is 99 per cent opinion-based journalism with people just going out writing what they want on blogs. They’re not accountable so it’s hard to compete because they can write anything and make it seem fantastic. And then it’s hard to actually get the facts and get people’s attention.”
Getting people’s attention has been on Hartnett’s mind of late, but for different reasons than one might expect.
The actor’s decision to anchor big-budget films such as Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down and Hollywood Homicide launched his career into the A-list stratosphere by 2003, until he chose to steer his career in a decidedly different direction over the past four years by taking parts in smaller movies ranging from Sin City to Lucky Number Slevin.
Hartnett admits he wasn’t satisfied with the career course plotted for him by the major studios.
“I think I’ve taken a different route than the one that was handed to me at the beginning of my career,” he says.
“I was less interested in that because I wanted to play all these different types of characters and wanted to play in different types of movies and not just heroic movie star roles ... I think that I’m constantly struggling to do the more difficult thing. Hopefully I’ll succeed.”
Resurrecting The Champ opens in theatres today.