Josh Hartnett: Stepping away from Hollywood was best for my mental health
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Josh Hartnett kept Hollywood "at bay" for the sake of his mental health.

The 'Pearl Harbor' actor - who turned down an offer to play Superman in a reported $100 million three-movie deal - has opened up in a rare interview about his decision to step back from the spotlight and avoid blockbusters at the height of his career to focus on his home life, and why it's "the best thing" he's done.

He told Channel Seven's 'Sunrise': "It was the best thing for my mental health and my career to keep Hollywood at bay.

"Luckily, I think I hit onto it early on in my life - it’s about creating a good home life and being able to do things that are wild and wonderful like making films, which is such a privilege."

Josh has no regrets about the movie roles he's had to turn down, including an offer to star alongside Joaquin Phoenix in 2006's gay rom-com 'Brokeback Mountain', in parts that went to Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger.

He said: "Unfortunately, I was going to do 'Brokeback Mountain.'

"And I had a contract with the 2006 film 'Black Dahlia' that I had to film, so I had to drop out of it."

He quipped: "I just always wanted to kiss Joaquin Phoenix."

The 'Wrath of Man' star - who has three children with partner Tamsin Egerton - recently admitted he never intended to be the top dog in Hollywood.

He said: "The guys who are on top are terrified that someone’s coming up behind them.

"If that’s your real ambition, to be on top all the time, you’re going to spend your whole life looking over your shoulder.

"I never wanted that. I want to do good work with people I like and spend my free time with people I care about.

"At the time, it was so obvious to me to turn ['Superman'] down. I was being offered movies by the very top directors. And Superman was a risk. Yes, there was a lot of money involved but I didn’t think that was the be-all and end-all."

And while people thought the 43-year-old star was "crazy" for leaving Hollywood for a quieter life, he's thankful he put his life first.

He said: "People thought I was crazy for not chasing that brass ring a little harder but I felt completely comfortable being with the people I knew liked me before I was making films.

"‘I decided to have a life. To put that first. That was always my goal.

"I feel very strongly about friends I’ve known for a long time and my family. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t losing those relationships. Those people make me who I am. I put those concerns ahead of chasing a Hollywood dream.

The thing I am most proud of is that I’m a father-of-three."

And Josh believes his decision paid off as he's only attracting more "interesting" work offers as he's gotten older.

He said: "I’m still able to do good work and, as I’ve got older, the characters have become more interesting."

This article originally ran on celebretainment.com.

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