The film's release has been a long time coming, for a number of reasons. What was it like making it?
Josh Hartnett: That was two-and-a-half years ago, and I barely remember three days ago. You guys are gonna have a rough time getting good stuff out of me!
What about working with Mekhi Phifer?
Josh Hartnett : Mekhi and I got along very well. We went to this basketball camp together for three weeks where we got the tools to make the basketball scenes come to life. Me and Mekhi both sunk our teeth in. We never played one-on-one or anything, but Mekhi's not that competitive a guy. He's just a real good guy. He liked to say 'that's love, man.' We got along really well.
And Julia Stiles? You know, she's already done more than a few Shakespeare retellings.
Josh Hartnett : I met Julia once, we screen tested for a movie together. That was when I first went out to LA. I didn't know her. I didn't know anyone's work except Martin Sheen's [who plays his character's father and basketball coach] , but I'd seen Clockers.
What's been your experience with the Bard?
Josh Hartnett : I was always into Shakespeare and when I went to college I did a few scenes. We had to take a scene and give it a different scenario, a different setting. We did a lot of experimentation. I've always loved his poetry.
In this one you're Hugo, the jealous Iago figure. How did you characterize him?
Josh Hartnett : I think he's a very intelligent guy, emotional guy. But with intelligence comes the ability to manipulate, and with the emotion comes irrational decisions. You just gotta hold it together with the jealousy and the envy and the anger over his father's lack of love. And then the character plays himself.
So tell us?what's it really like being touted as the "next big thing"?
Josh Hartnett : I never paid any attention to that because I know that's not the case. All the stuff that has led up to this is based on decisions I've made and luck that I've had. All I want to do is make good movies. If you read the articles, you get a big head, which upsets me. I'd get really angry with myself if I start acting like that. The only other reaction is to get pissed off because someone doesn't like you. So it doesn't help me at all, so I stay away from it. I try not to pay attention to it and just hang out with my family and friends.
You choose not to live in Hollywood and do that whole scene. How has fame changed your life?
Josh Hartnett : People come up a lot more and want to talk to me. I'm still waiting to deal with it, I don't know when it's gonna become intolerable, 'cause I hear a lot of stories and I see where it becomes too much. But I don't really go to the spots... if I lived here and I went to Hollywood-type parties a lot, but I don't do that. Unless people follow me back to Minnesota, which would be their loss 'cause my friends and family would destroy them. Minnesota people are very polite. They treat you like a normal human being. I guess it's been good for me to be back there. I feel pretty much in a good spot.
So in Minnesota can you, like, just go over to Home Depot and pick up some paint?
Josh Hartnett : I was just there. I had to sign an autograph for the checkout person.
OK. That's all well and good but what the world really wants to know is... what was up with that Faculty haircut?
Josh Hartnett : I never really liked going to the barber, so I cut it myself. That's how it turned out. I had that haircut when I went in for the auditions.
Josh Hartnett : The team of people around me gave up on my appearance a long time ago. They know I'm always gonna do the wrong thing as far as appearance goes. It's never not stylish enough to be stylish. They leave me alone.