Monday, October 15, 2007

Up close: Josh Hartnett

I always get excited when a new comic book movie is on the horizon. There are some movies which I look forward to in anticipation for years, as soon as they are announced, such as Spider-man or X-Men 2 or Batman Begins. Then there are some which I get excited over, but not to the feverish extent of the movies listed in the first group...movies like Daredevil and Hulk and basically anything that Marvel makes. And there are those movies that I go "meh" about, knowing that it's not the end of the world if I don't see them, but also simultaneously making a mental note to go watch it if I had the time and inclination.

30 Days of Night is one of those movies in the latter category. Don't get me wrong, I ENJOY watching movies based on comic book properties (whether I enjoy the movie itself is a whole different thing altogether). It's just not the end of the world if I don' I can always rent the DVD!

Returning to the horror genre, the ‘30 Days of Night’ star chops off his co-stars’ heads, bangs up his own eyeball and ponders immortality

By Rickey Purdin

Posted October 14, 2007 5:15 PM

WIZARD: In “30 Days of Night,” premiering Oct. 19, you play Eben, a sheriff in an Alaskan town overrun by vampires. Your career kicked off about 10 years ago with horror films like “Halloween H2O.” Why go back to horror films now?

HARTNETT: I thought it would be an elevated version of what has been a trend in film for a long time now. And I felt that [director] David Slade would bring the material out. It’s Sam Raimi producing, of course, and there are a lot of interesting actors—Danny Huston and Ben Foster—and I thought it would be something that would be in a different league than those movies that have come out recently.

How will it be different from the recent stuff like “Saw” and other “torture porn” kinds of films?

I don’t really feel like I’m trying to spearhead a movement. I’ve always tried to seek out an elevated version of the films that I like. It’s rare to find a good team of people making a film you think audiences will want to go see.

What brought the project to your attention in the first place?

David sent me the script and the comic book. They came up to Minnesota, where I’m from, and we had lunch. And I decided I would like to make stuff like this. Then I saw [David’s previous film] “Hard Candy.” The subject matter was difficult to take, but the filmmaking was astounding. He showed me a test of what he wanted the vampires to look like, too, which was terrifying.

You said Slade sent you 30 Days of Night, but did you read comics growing up?

I didn’t, actually. The two comic books that I’ve read are Sin City and 30 Days of Night. Actually, when I was doing “Sin City,” just for the few days that I was there, someone gave me Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

Aside from comics, are you a fan of vampire movies?

I grew up watching all sorts of scary movies. That’s what kids do. You sneak out of the house and try to go see movies that you aren’t supposed to see. When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot [of vampire movies] coming out. There were movies like “Poltergeist” and “The Exorcist.”

Did you talk to Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, the creative team behind the 30 Days of Night comic, when you were preparing for the role?

I talked to both of them, actually. Ben came up and he did a mock-up of me as Eben, which is banging. I got to spend some time with him, talking about art.

Due to a solar rotation, the film’s set in a frozen, completely dark part of Alaska. How did you stay warm?

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the cold. We shot about 10 days down [on a snow farm] in the south of New Zealand, but the rest of the time we were in Auckland. It was getting to be spring and summer there. It was quite warm.

How did you stay sane after spending most of your time shooting at night?

On any movie you go a little stir crazy. You spend enough time with the same people, enough hours a day, and you start to lose touch. But we had a good time there. On the weekends, I got to go surf and do all this other stuff that is completely not in continuity with the film.

One element that definitely makes it into the film is action. Were you involved in any kind of stunts or training beforehand?

I was involved in a lot of stunts, but I didn’t have to go through a lot of training. For the most part, it’s just throwing myself around and not minding if I get a little hurt or banged up. It’s nice to do something physical.

You got banged up?

With all the running around and exertion, I popped a blood vessel in my eye. I had to wear contacts in the film for a while. I also broke my little finger on my right hand, which was just kind of a stupid accident in the middle of a take. [Laughs] Not too bad.

Since it’s a scary movie, were there any instances behind the scenes with people trying to scare each other?

Not really. I don’t think making a scary movie is actually very frightening. I think it’s kind of funny. Our daily routine is us chopping off people’s heads. It was actually one of the most calm sets I’ve ever been on.

Do you think you could hack it as a vampire and live the nocturnal lifestyle?

I think I already have it. Being an actor, if you work 12 hours a day, you don’t have any sort of life. You have got to stay up most of the night. But no, living for eternity doesn’t sound that good. Being immortal sounds like a hassle to me. I think I would go absolutely insane.

Do you know your blood type?

It’s somewhere. I don’t even know. Is it on your driver’s license? [Laughs] I don’t think it is anymore.

It’s totally not. How about “Sin City”? Do you know what’s up with the sequel?

I know they are trying to write one right now. I’m sure it will happen at some point. Whether or not I’m going to be involved, we’ll see.

Josh Hartnett seems to be the proverbial comic book movie nut nowadays. He was in Sin City and I think he'll be back in the sequel. And now he's going to be in 30 Days of Night. And not too long ago, he was one of the frontrunners for the role of Superman in Superman Returns! Why's he become such a hot property in the comic book movie world nowadays? After all, he's no Hugh Jackman or Jessica Alba.

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