Josh Hartnett says “40 Days and 40 Nights ”was ‘a different time’: ‘It’s funny to a 21-year-old’

“I was attracted to the bizarre concept of it. I was young," Hartnett added.

Josh Hartnett recognizes that 40 Days and 40 Nights might not have aged well.

In an interview with Variety, the Lucky Number Slevin star reflected on the sex comedy that helped solidify his early career. “It was a different time,” Hartnett explained. “There were a lot of kind of sexy comedies coming out at the time, and what I appreciated about this one is that it was about abstinence from sex. Basically this ridiculous concept of losing your mind through not being able to do the deed.”

<p>Miramax/courtesy Everett</p> Josh Hartnett in '40 Days and 40 Nights'

Miramax/courtesy Everett

Josh Hartnett in '40 Days and 40 Nights'

The 2002 film sees Hartnett’s protagonist Matt attempt to abstain from sex for the 40 days of Lent — a commitment that one of the movie’s creators tried himself. “I became friends with the guy who wrote it, Rob Perez, and he said he had done it himself, and at the time — I mean, who cares? It’s not that big a deal — but back then, he was kinda playing it up as it was like this mystical experience that he had,” Hartnett said.

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Perez reflected on the film’s production in a 2009 piece in Filmmaker Magazine. “At the time I believed the film was made because of the script,” the screenwriter said. “However, in retrospect I believe it was made because of a confluence of a 20 completely random stars aligning. This included an influx of money at the studio from a new partnership; their recent films had been hits; young comedies like mine were connecting at the time; a few bankable actors in the age range wanted to play the lead; the executive(s) happened to like (or at least think it was commercial) the concept/script; and that the producer was hungry enough that when he hit road blocks, he found other ways to keep moving forward.”

<p>Karwai Tang/WireImage</p> Josh Hartnett

Karwai Tang/WireImage

Josh Hartnett

In the video, Hartnett continued to explain why he enjoyed the screenplay. “ I was attracted to the bizarre concept of it,” he said. “I was young. I was like 21 years old. It’s funny to a 21-year-old.”

Related: Kirsten Dunst recalls biting Josh Hartnett in The Virgin Suicides make-out scene: 'I was so mortified’

Elsewhere in the video, Hartnett also discussed working with Ben Affleck on Pearl Harbor. “I love Ben!” he said. “I think everybody’s quite aware of this now, but he’s an incredibly intelligent guy. At the time, they always thought that Matt [Damon] was, like, the brains behind the operation. Ben, he had this incredible capacity to do like 50 things at once. He was producing a film at the time, he always had his little crossword, he was working on his crossword…I don’t remember who he was dating at the time, but he was constantly on the phone with them. Whenever I see him, we’re friendly with one another.”

Related: A new Ben Affleck–Matt Damon collab is coming: Here are all their projects together so far

Watch the full video above.

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