Aug 26, 2007

Josh Hartnett is a 'Champ'

Josh Hartnett has had a whirlwind couple of days. He traveled halfway around the world to appear at San Diego's Comic-Con to promote his October vampire flick, "30 Days of Night," in front of 6,500 fanatics. Now, before he begins a 14-hour journey to the Philippines to continue shooting the thriller "I Come With the Rain," Hartnett is promoting his new drama, "Resurrecting the Champ."

Inspired by an article by Los Angeles-based reporter J.R. Moehringer, "Champ" finds Harnett playing Erik, a struggling Denver sportswriter who isn't having much luck landing high-profile assignments. In a chance encounter, he meets a homeless man who claims to be former heavyweight champion "Battling" Bob Satterfield (a fine Samuel L. Jackson). In his rush to run this "feel-good" story, Erik cuts corners on his research methods and the resulting piece begins moving his career in the wrong direction.

Director Rod Lurie ("The Contender") first approached Hartnett about the project five years ago, when the actor was only 24 years old, but they both agreed he was too young to play the part. At the time, Hartnett was disappointed it didn't work out, because he was intrigued with the initial casting of Morgan Freeman as the ex-boxer. Somewhat coincidentally, it all worked out. Hartnett reveals, "It's funny because Sam was supposed to be in 'Lucky Number Sleven' and he had to fall out because of some scheduling conflict. And Morgan was supposed to be in this and [in the end,] they just flipped."

When Lurie reapproached Hartnett years later, there was no question he wanted in, because, he notes, "It's a story about real people, and I think it's a really strongly written, well-structured drama that you don't need to have a lot of sweeping string music to get people's emotions going."

Playing a journalist gave Hartnett a view into a profession that has often been responsible for publishing erroneous facts about him. Today, he believes the movie's story line is incredibly relevant because of the lack of fact-checking done by online "opinion-based" bloggers.

"People just going out writing whatever they want, blogs and whatnot -- they are not accountable," Hartnett says. So it's hard to compete, because they can just write anything and just make it seem fantastic. So I think it's probably really difficult for you [professional writers]. I have a respect for the industry that I really didn't understand before."

As someone who shuns the paparazzi but is often their subject, the last thing Hartnett wants to do is court the media.

"Personally, I think the best way to deal with it is stay away from it. I'd say 95 percent of the stuff written about me is inaccurate," Hartnett says. "I could be sitting in a restaurant and there could be a famous girl sitting on the other side of the restaurant who I've never met in my life, and [the next thing you know] we are having kids. It's always that way and they are always wrong."

"Resurrecting the Champ" is now playing nationwide.

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