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‘I love Ireland… the Guinness kept us warm from the cold’

Josh Hartnett chats to Kevin Palmer about his Sky series The Fear Index, why he is rubbish at being a celebrity and how the best reprieve from the damp Irish weather is the nearest pub


Josh Hartnett with his partner Tamsin Egerton

Josh Hartnett with his partner Tamsin Egerton

Josh Hartnett in The Fear Index

Josh Hartnett in The Fear Index


Josh Hartnett with his partner Tamsin Egerton

HE has been a Hollywood heartthrob for all of his adult life, yet Josh Hartnett insists he is happy to ignore his enduring celebrity status.

Hartnett shot to worldwide stardom as he took on starring roles in the big-screen smash hits Pearl Harbour and 40 Days and 40 Nights at the start of his career.

Yet as he spoke to Magazine+ about his latest role in the compelling Sky drama The Fear Index, it was clear that this instantly recognisable star prefers to take a back seat away from the bright lights of fame.

“It was always felt unnatural for me to be ‘famous’,” began 43-year-old father of three told us. “It’s difficult to get a handle on what that means for anyone when you are put in that position.

“In my eyes, I have always been a terrible celebrity because I don’t do all the things celebrities are supposed to do.

“I really enjoy making films and TV shows, but the industry itself was overwhelming when I was younger.

“There was paparazzi around every corner and you couldn’t really go anywhere without being sort of harassed and I wanted to be outside of that.

“What I want to do is continue to work on interesting projects and that’s why I don’t have any social media platforms.

“I prefer the old-fashioned way where we get to talk to real people and don’t need to do it through social media channels. That works better for me.”


Josh Hartnett in The Fear Index

Josh Hartnett in The Fear Index

Josh Hartnett in The Fear Index

Hartnett’s long-term relationship with actress Tamsin Egerton offers him the simple stability he craves in his life with their three children and home in Sussex, England a long way from the bright lights of Hollywood.

He has turned down roles that could have turned his celebrity status into something even more extravagant after revealing he was offered the chance to play Superman and other comic book heroes, yet Hartnett is content with the path he has chosen to follow.

His latest role sees him deliver a commanding performance as Dr Alex Hoffman, a computer scientist and genius who is ready to make a killing, while nearly losing his mind in the storm that envelopes him.

This financial thriller adapted from the best-selling novel by Robert Harris, The Fear Index is directed by Wicklow-born David Caffrey, who lists Love/Hate and Line Of Duty among his credits.

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“People say I took a break in my career, but that wasn’t really the case,” he insisted. “I just wanted to spend less time away from my kids and that meant doing smaller productions.

“What I do is pick projects that work for me and that’s why I did The Fear Index. This show has really interesting characters, great storylines and that’s why I had to do this one.

“But I have to admit I can’t give you a full review of what The Fear Index looks like in the final edit because my ability to separate myself from the mistakes I make when I see myself on screen is non-existent.

“If I watch something that I am in, it can affect me for three months because I never like what I see.

“My Dad is a musician and he said it took him ten years to listen back to his music without judging it badly and I think it is the same with acting.

“You forget everything that you don’t like about a performance years later, but it is hard to watch yourself back on TV right after you have made something.”

Mention Ireland to Hartnett and a smile instantly comes across his face, as he recalls his days in Dalkey while filming Penny Dreadful, the Victorian-era horror series for Sky mid-way through the last decade.

“I loved my time in Ireland,” he recalls, reflecting on the award-winning gothic horror drama. “The only thing I would say is we spent three winters over there and I have never been colder in all my life.

“It’s that horizontal rain that comes into Ireland from the sea and you just can’t escape from it. You are drenched and cold every time you go out.

“But we had a really fun time and the Guinness kept us warm and I had some great times in Finnegan’s pub in Dalkey. Hopefully I can go back sometime.”

All episodes of The Fear Index are on Sky Atlantic and NOW

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