Last week, we discussed Orlando Bloom’s new job, an historical fantasy on Amazon Prime. This week, Josh Hartnett—the Proto-Orlando Bloom—also got a new job, also on a TV show. Hartnett’s show is called Paradise Lost, and it is a Southern Gothic mystery about a psychiatrist who relocates with her family to Mississippi and is immediately punished for poor life choices. Once relocated, they uncover “shameful secrets”. If you move to Mississippi, you are asking for shameful secrets to seep into your life. I don’t know why anyone even goes there—Louisiana has better food, Florida has better beaches. You move to Mississippi because at least it’s not Alabama.
Hartnett will star alongside Jane the Virgin’s Bridget Regan, and the show will co-star Nick Nolte and Barbara Hershey. Honestly, I don’t hate it. It sounds a little like Gone Girl—urbane family relocates to Middle America and Suffers Greatly—but that’s a good cast, and Paradise Lost will air on the Paramount Network; its first scripted show, Yellowstone, is a pretty solid pot boiler. It does feel like Josh Hartnett is treading water, after Penny Dreadful, a lavish cable drama, was meant to relaunch his career five years ago. Since Penny Dreadful, he really hasn’t done anything of note, and his next project is a James Franco film, so that’s how that it’s going.
Back when I wrote his career prospectus, I wondered if Penny Dreadful would be enough to jump start Harnett’s career after it stalled in the late aughts. Penny Dreadful was only a medium success—it has passionate fans, but it didn’t break into the mainstream—so it didn’t end up doing much for Hartnett. (Eva Green was the real standout of that show.) Will an adult oriented drama be the thing that pushes Hartnett back into the conversation? At this point, with so much TV, with so many A-list stars doing television, Paradise Lost would have to be a HUGE hit to get it done. Josh Hartnett’s career is fine, in the sense that he is working steadily and getting decent work. But maybe, like Orlando Bloom, he peaked in 2004.