Josh Hartnett is the co-star of the television series "Penny Dreadful" and the success of the series has made him a 'hot commodity' as an actor in both Europe and Hollywood.
Prior to his joining "Penny Dreadful" the actor had basically fallen off the map with regard to his inclusion in conversations about star actors under the age of 40 in large part due to his move away from big budget film. He reportedly had been in the discussion to play a part in the movie Superman Returns and Batman but he turned them down which led to his agents and manager having huge disputes and him not being considered for similar roles by the big studios.
Over the past ten years he has mostly worked in independent films and while some have looked at that time as him being 'in the wilderness' I look at it as an actor who realized that he needed to work on his craft and did not anticipate that he would be able to do so as part of a 'franchise' film. He mentioned in one of his earlier interviews with Details magazine that he did not want to be labelled as 'Superman' for the rest of his career and these words lead me to think that he is an actor who enjoys the challenge of complex, multi-personality characters.
His move away from the "Hollywood" spotlight to act in indie projects enabled him to expand his acting range and now he is able to act opposite talented actors such as Eva Green who I truly doubt he would have been able to 'hold his own' with if he did not develop his acting ability in these projects.
He has moved from being known to casting directors and filmmakers as a Hollywood heart throb to now being recognized as an acting 'talent' with leading man looks. This is a huge change and one which it seems was his plan even though he might not admit it.
Josh Hartnett is an actor's actor, someone more focused on the craft than the publicity that comes with being an acting star, and his development into an actor with the range and grit to thrive on the drama "Penny Dreadful" has returned him to prominence as one of the top prospective leading men under 40.