The 43-year-old actor revealed the industry at the time was “overwhelming” for him.
“The biggest thing for me was that I really enjoyed making films but the industry itself was overwhelming for a 21-year-old kid,” Harnett told the hosts of The Project.
“The press was a little bit different back then,” he explained. “There was paparazzi around every corner, you couldn’t really go anywhere without being, you know, sort of harassed. And I decided I didn’t need that in my life, and I was able to still make films and live outside of it.”
After walking away from the huge projects, Harnett continued to find work while living in Minnesota, then New York and finally the United Kingdom.
“I’m still able to work with great people and make good films, and I don’t have to deal with all the stuff,” he added. “So, it’s kind of best of both worlds for me.”
Harnett also shared the boxes a film has to check in order for him to be interested.
“Well, I like it to be original,” he said. “When I find something that I haven’t seen in a while, I get excited.”
Harnett also revealed why he is drawn to independent films.
“I’ve been doing these sort of independent films for a long time,” he noted, adding that the people “you’re on set with” are “the ones making the decisions.”
Harnett is known for his roles in “Black Hawk Down,” “Lucky Number Slevin,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Black Dahlia” and other roles.
His most recent projects include “Paradise Lost,” “Wrath of Man” and “Ida Red.”